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United States Politics

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									Understanding the inner workings of government
   Legislative
     This branch, known as congress, has the power to
      make laws
     There are two houses that comprise congress
      ▪ Senate-each state is represented by two members
      ▪ House of Representatives-each state is represented
        proportionally by population
   Executive
     This branch is headed by the President. He has no
     power to make laws or interpret them, however
     he is responsible to preserve, protect and defend
     the laws.
   Judicial
     This branch is responsible for administering
      justice interpreting the law.
     Upholds the constitution and all statutes and
      regulations pursuant to it.
   President
   Vice President
   Speaker of the House
   Secretary of State
   The President is the head of the executive branch and plays a large role in making America’s laws.
    His job is to approve the laws that Congress creates. When the Senate and the House approve a
    bill, they send it to the President. If he agrees with the law, he signs it and the law goes into
   If the President does not like a bill, he can refuse to sign it. When he does this, it is called a veto. If
    the President vetoes a bill, it will most likely never become a law. Congress can override a veto,
    but to do so two-thirds of the Members of Congress must vote against the President.
   Despite all of his power, the President cannot write bills. He can propose a bill, but a member of
    Congress must submit it for him.
   In addition to playing a key role in the lawmaking process, the President has several duties. He
    serves as the American Head of State, meaning that he meets with the leaders of other countries
    and can make treaties with them. However, the Senate must approve any treaty before it
    becomes official.
   The President is also the Chief of the Government. That means that he is technically the boss of
    every government worker.
   Also, the President is the official head of the U.S. military. He can authorize the use of troops
    overseas without declaring war. To officially declare war, though, he must get the approval of the
   The President and the Vice-President are the only officials chosen by the entire country. Not just
    anyone can be President, though. In order to be elected, one must be at least 35 years old. Also,
    each candidate must be a natural-born U.S. citizen and have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.
    When elected, the President serves a term of four years. The most one President can serve is two
    terms, for a total of eight years
 In politics, a vice president is a. politician whose primary job is to
  replace the president on the event of his or her death or
  resignation. Vice presidents are either elected jointly with the
  president as his or her running mate, elected separately, or
  appointed independently after the president's election.
 Governments with vice presidents generally have only one person
  in this role at any time. If the president is not present, dies,
  resigns, or is otherwise unable to fulfill his or her duties, the vice
  president will generally serve as president. In many presidential
  systems, the vice president does not wield much day-to-day
  political power, but is still considered an important member of the
 As President of the Senate, the Vice President has two primary
  duties: to cast a vote in the event of a Senate deadlock and to
  preside over and certify the official vote count of the U.S. Electoral
 The Speaker in the United States is, by tradition, the head of the
  majority party in the House of Representatives, outranking the
  Majority Leader. However, the Speaker usually does not
  participate in debate (though he or she has the right to do so) and
  rarely votes on the floor.
 The Speaker is responsible for ensuring that the House passes
  legislation supported by the majority party. In pursuing this goal,
  the Speaker may utilize his or her power to determine when each
  bill reaches the floor. He or she also chairs the majority party's
  House steering committee. While the Speaker is the functioning
  head of the House majority party, the same is not true of the
  President pro tempore of the Senate, whose office is primarily
  ceremonial and honorary.
 When the Speaker and the President belong to the same party,
  the Speaker normally plays a less prominent role as the leader of
  the majority party.
 In the United States federal government, Secretary of State has the unique
  meaning of the official responsible for foreign policy. In most other countries, this
  official is called the foreign secretary or foreign minister. The U.S. Secretary of
  State is head of the United States Department of State. In the presidential line of
  succession the Secretary of State is the highest-ranking member of the Cabinet,
  and fourth overall. The Secretary of State is also the first cabinet member in the
  order of precedence, and there is a space between the Secretary of State and
  other cabinet members where the order allows room for former presidents and
  first ladies, and widows of U.S. presidents. The position is widely regarded as the
  senior most of the cabinet.
 Performs such duties as the President is required, in accordance with the United
  States Constitution, relating to correspondence, commission, or instructions to
  U.S. or consuls abroad, and to conduct negotiations with foreign representatives.
  The Secretary has also served as principal adviser to the President in the
  determination of U.S. foreign policy and in recent decades has become
  responsible for overall direction, coordination, and supervision of
  interdepartmental activities of the U.S. Government overseas, excepting certain
  military activities.
   Three branches
     Executive-headed by the state Governor who
      oversees city Mayors
     Legislative-run by the state Senators
     Judicial-headed by the state supreme court which
      hears appeals from the lower state courts
   Supreme
     Laws as outlined by the Constitution
   State
     Laws passed by state governor and state
   Local
     City laws that are upheld by local law
   Democrat
     Oldest party in the world, Congress majority
   Republican
     Nicknamed the Grand Old Party (GOP)
   Libertarian
     Largest third party, founded in 1971
   Constitution
   Green
   Generally favors liberal positions and a large government role
   Historically, the party has favored farmers, laborers, labor unions, and
    religious and ethnic minorities; it has opposed unregulated business and
    finance, and favored progressive income taxes
   Advocates more social freedoms, affirmative action, balanced budget,
    and a free enterprise system tempered by government intervention
    (mixed economy).
   Also favors: affordable and quality healthcare with governments help,
    environment protection, low cost college tuition, equal opportunity
    employment, women's right, stem cell research, dependence on other
    countries in time of war, right to privacy and gun control.
   The Republican Party is the more socially conservative and economically
    libertarian of the two major parties. The party generally supports lower
    taxes and limited government in most economic areas allowing for more
    economic freedom.
   Opposed to abortion, doubt affirmative action (getting minorities
    represented in higher education) and does not approve stem cell
   In favor of: capital punishment, gun ownership rights, prayer in schools
    as well as creationism, allowing government to act in time of war without
    support from other countries.
   Much more “moral” minded, based on evangelical and fundamentalist
   Adoption of laissez-faire principles which would reduce the state's role in the
   Protection of property rights.
   Minimal government bureaucracy, the government's responsibilities should be
    limited to the protection of individual rights from the initiation of force and fraud.
   Strong civil liberties positions, including privacy protection, freedom of speech,
    freedom of association, and sexual freedom.
   No government interference in reproductive rights, including access to abortion.
    (Right-libertarians and Libertarians for Life usually do not support abortion, but
    they believe that the federal government has no say in regulating the procedure).
   Support for the unrestricted right to the means of self-defense (such as gun
    rights, the right to carry mace or pepper spray, etc).
   Abolition of laws against what are called victimless crimes: (prostitution, driving
    without a seatbelt, use of controlled substances, fraternization, etc.).
   Opposition to regulations on how businesses should run themselves (e.g.,
   A foreign policy of free trade and non-interventionism.
   Support for a fiscally responsible government including a hard currency
    (commodity-based money supply as opposed to fiat currency).
   Abolition of all forms of taxpayer-funded assistance (welfare, food stamps, public
    housing, etc.)
   Advocates a Bible-based platform which it claims to reflect original intent of the U.S.
    Constitution and the principles of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
   Supports reducing the role of the United States federal government through cutting
    bureaucratic regulation, reducing spending, and replacing the income tax with a tariff-
    based revenue system supplemented by excise taxes.
   Encourage the idea that the United States terminate its participation in international
    lending institutions, such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the Export-
    Import Bank. It also urges the government to immediately terminate all subsidies, tax
    preferences, and investment guarantees that encourage U.S. businesses to invest in
    foreign property; and to seek to collect all foreign debts owed to it.
   The party is pro-life and thus opposes euthanasia and abortion. The party supports a States'
    right to administer the death penalty to those convicted of "capital crimes" which, it should
    be noted, are not necessarily limited to murder but usually equate to such in modern
    American society.
   The party also opposes government recognition of same-sex unions, and believes state and
    local governments have the right to criminalize "offensive sexual behavior". The party
    further opposes pornography, believing the government needs to take a stand against it.
    Viewing gambling as destructive and contributing to crime, the party opposes legalized
    gambling as well as government's support of gambling organizations. However, the party
    opposes federal anti-drug laws
   Emphasize environmentalism, non-
    hierarchical participatory democracy, social
    justice, respect for diversity, peace and
   Caucus
     a meeting of supporters or members of a political party or
   Electoral College
     the 538 President Electors who meet every 4 years to cast
      the electoral votes for President and Vice President of the
      United States.
   Swing State
     those states that are not firmly rooted in either the
      Republican or Democratic party
 One meaning is a meeting of members of a political party or subgroup to
  coordinate members' actions, choose group policy, or nominate candidates for
  various offices. The term is frequently used to discuss the caucuses used by some
  states to select presidential nominees
 Another meaning is for a subgrouping of elected officials that meet on the basis
  of shared affinities or ethnicities, usually to affect policy. At the highest level, in
  Congress and many state legislatures, Democratic and Republican members
  organize themselves into a caucus (occasionally called a "conference").
 Of the many Congressional caucuses, one of the best-known is the Congressional
  Black Caucus, a group of African-American members of Congress. Another
  prominent example is the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, whose members voice
  and advance issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, including Puerto
  Rico. In a different vein, the Congressional Internet Caucus is a bipartisan group
  of Members who wish to promote the growth and advancement of the Internet.
  Other congressional caucuses such as the Out of Iraq Caucus, are openly
  organized tendencies or political factions (within the House Democratic Caucus,
  in this case), and strive to achieve political goals.
   Each state is allocated as many electors as it has Representatives and Senators in the
    United States Congress. Since the most populous states have the most seats in congress,
    they also have the most electors.
   Electors are chosen by the state and local representatives, which have been elected by the
    people living within the state.
   Although ballots list the names of the presidential candidates, voters within the 50 states
    and the District of Columbia are actually choosing Electors from their state when they vote
    for President and Vice President. These Presidential Electors in turn cast the official
    (electoral) votes for those two offices. Although the nationwide popular vote is calculated
    by official and media organizations, it does not determine the winner of the election.
   A candidate must receive a majority of votes from the electoral college (currently 270) to
    win the Presidency. If in either election for President or Vice-President no one receives a
    majority, the election is determined by Congress.
   Potential elector candidates are nominated by their state political parties in the summer
    before the Election Day. The U.S. Constitution allows each state to choose its own means
    for the nomination of electors.
   The system is designed to require presidential candidates to appeal to many different types
    of interests, rather than those of a specific region or state.
   A swing state (also, battleground state) in United States presidential
    politics is a state in which no candidate has overwhelming support,
    meaning that any of the major candidates have a reasonable chance of
    winning the state's electoral college votes. Such states are targets of
    both major political parties in presidential elections, since winning these
    states is the best opportunity for a party to gain votes. Non-swing states
    are sometimes called safe states, because one candidate has strong
    enough support that they can safely assume they will win the state's
   Every four years, Americans elect a President and Vice
    President, thereby choosing both national leaders and a
    course of public policy. There are 4 stages:
     The pre-nomination-In these elections, state party members get to vote for
      the candidate that will represent their party in the upcoming general election.
     The national conventions -At the end of the primaries and caucuses, each
      party holds a national convention to finalize the selection of one Presidential
      nominee. During this time, each Presidential candidate chooses a running-
      mate (or Vice-Presidential candidate).
     The general election campaign-Candidates campaign throughout the
      country in an attempt to win the support of voters.
     The electoral college phase-in which the President and Vice President are
      officially elected by state electors

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