The United States is a constitutional democracy whose powers are exercised within the framework of the six principles of the constitution. The six principles include popular sovereignty, federalism, and judicial review, the separation of powers, and the checks and balances.
The American governance is devolved into two sets: the national government and the local governments. Federalism is a system in which the national government shares power with state governments. “Federalism is a political system in which there are local units of government, as well as a national government, that can make final decisions concerning at least some governmental activities and whose existence is specially protected” ( Wilson, Dilulio, Bose, and Levendusky 59). As such, it is imperative to have a clear set of separation of their powers and functions.
Popular sovereignty derives from the notion that the political power vests in the people and are exercised by the government through delegation. Thus, the government is subject to the will of the people. Limited government, on the other hand, refers to the notion that the government can only have as many powers as the people bestows on it. Hence, the government will be ran through the initiative of a popular majority through voting.
Ideally, there are three arms namely, the Congress, the executive (presidency), and the courts. The constitution creates the separate arms of government and bestows them with their separate powers and functions. For instance, the Congress makes laws, the executive implements the laws, and the court interprets them. The idea of each arm having its own mandate is the separation of powers. However, in the exercise of their powers, the three institutions may go beyond their scope. Each arm can check the powers of the other in a system of checks and balances to prevent tyranny. For instance, the president checks the Congress through veto; and the federal courts through the nomination of judges.
Finally, there is the principle of judicial review which is closely related the two concepts of separation of powers; and the concepts of checks and balances. It allows the judicial arm to reach unto government officials who may act ultra vires.
Q 2. The American Political Culture
Political culture has been defined as an entrenched way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be (Wilson et al. 77). The American political culture is an overlap of a conflicting and consensual culture through a broad-based shared political value. However, it is generally consensual considering that the conflicts are just at the implementation of the values.
The elements of the American political culture include liberty, democracy, equality, civic duty, and individual responsibility. Liberty means that the Americans have the right to do as they please provided they are not trampling on the rights of others. Equality means that the American citizens have the same voice regarding voting and participation. On democracy, the American believes that every government official should be accountable to the people. Civic duty is the belief that people ought to play a part in the national building by taking community affairs seriously. Finally, individuals responsibility entails being answerable for own choices (Wilson et al. 78-79).
The American orthodox believe that morality and religion ought to be important factors in decision-making. On the other hand, the progressive American believes that personal freedom and social issues are important than morality and religious matters. “While on the progressive side people believe that morality is more important than self-expression, the progressive side believes that personal freedom is more important than traditional moral rules” (Wilson et al. 87). Thus, one side is liberal while the other is conservative.
Q 3. Federalism
Governments, the world over, have some local units of governance whereby they decentralize some of their administrative functions. The devolution of the local units into entities that can make decisions on their own makes them federal. “Federalism refers to a political system in which there are local units of government, as well as a national government, that can make final decisions with respect to at least some governmental activities and whose existence is specially protected” (Wilson et al. 59). The federal system derives from the constitution, which defines the distribution of political powers within the society. However, the constitutional provision creating the American Federal units is not enough to sustain it since the system would only enjoy theoretical status. The independence of the American Federal units from becoming mere administrative subunits results from the American’s entrenched ideology of self-government (Wilson et al. 59). Thus, there are various reasons why the American federalism has survived.
The American federal system is based on the notion that political power is locally acquired. As a result, “the local feel the need to create separate, self-sustaining centers of power, prestige, and profit” (Wilson et al. 59). The national government has vast powers though it exercises them through the state governments. It enforces most of its rules through the local units as opposed to directly on the citizens. The national government does not do much in regulation although the states work through some forms of nationally defined goals. Therefore, it should not be viewed as a means to block action or prevent the progress on national goals. Instead, it is a system that develops and maintains mechanisms that are vital in the perpetual combination of intergovernmental strengths, individual liberty, and political flexibility (Wilson et al. 60). The United States federalism avails an opportunity for all the relevant interests of the citizens to be heard in the relatively extended republic (Wilson et al. 60). The American federalism thus creates a sense of sovereignty by strengthening autonomy.
The California green experiment is the quintessence of the benefits of the American federalism. The ruling factions in the state have taken drastic measures to safeguard their local interests and welfare. The measures include environmental protection, an extension of civil rights, the improvement of the social conditions. “California has, independent of the federal government, cut property taxes, strictly controlled coastal land use, heavily regulated electric utilities, and increased and decreased its welfare rolls” (Wilson et al. 61). Thus, federalism helps mobilize the exercise of political power at the grass root levels.
Q 4. The Rights
Article VI provides that:
under the Confederation.
Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority
of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every
State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to
the Contrary notwithstanding.
several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United
States and of the several States shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support
this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any
Office or public Trust under the United States.
Article IV Right
Wilson, James Q., et al. American government: Institutions and policies. Print, 2018.
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