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The US Election Explained: Government

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The US is a constitutional republic and representative democracy. Our Government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the US Constitution, which serves as the countrys supreme legal document. In the US, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government: federal, state, and local. The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. The Constitution has been amended 27 times, including the first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights, which forms the central basis of Americans individual rights.

Washingtons Triumphal Progress To New York

George Washington journeyed from his home at Mount Vernon in Virginia to New York City for his April 30, 1789, inauguration as the first president of the federal government. Along the way, he was greeted by crowds and officials eager to celebrate their new national leader. In this frequently reproduced image, first published by Currier and Ives a century later, the women of Trenton, New Jersey, shower Washington with adoration and flowers at a bridge that leads into the city.

Washingtonâs Reception by the Ladies, on Passing the Bridge at Trenton, New Jersey, April 1789. : John Jacob Hipp, ca. 1889. Color lithograph. , Library of Congress

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Congressional Preparations For The President

A Joint Committee of Congress made the arrangements for the inauguration of the first president of the United States on April 30, 1789. Special emphasis was given to plans for taking the oath of office, the order of procession to St. Paulâs Chapel for divine services, and the public reception that followed at the door of the church.

The Committee of Both Houses of Congress Appointed to Take Order for Conducting the Ceremonial of the Formal Receptions of the President of the United States on Thursday Next. New York: April 29, 1789. Broadside. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

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Celebrating The Fourth In 1788

Beginning in 1777, Americans commemorated the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the fourth of July with readings of the document, firework displays, feasting, and toasts, as well as in commemorative speeches, poems, and songs. In this poem or ode, the author, said to be Francis Hopkinson , a signer of the Declaration of Independence and noted American author and composer, contributed these verses to celebrate July 4, 1788, in Philadelphia.

. An Ode for the 4th of July 1788. : Printed by M. Carey, . Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

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Legislative Branch Of The Us Government

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The legislative branch drafts proposed laws, confirms or rejects presidential nominations for heads of federal agencies, federal judges, and the Supreme Court, and has the authority to declare war. This branch includes Congress and special agencies and offices that provide support services to Congress. American citizens have the right to vote for Senators and Representatives through free, confidential ballots.

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Public Trust In Government Remains Low

Since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007, the share of Americans who say they trust the federal government to do what is right either just about always or most of the time has hovered near 20%. This remains true today, with 2% saying they trust the government just about always and 18% saying they trust the government most of the time. Nearly eight-in-ten say they trust the federal government to do what is right either some of the time or never .

Among Republicans, trust in the federal government has increased since the end of Barack Obamas presidency. A within-administration moving average places the average share of Republicans who trusted the federal government just about always or most of the time at 11% shortly before the 2016 presidential election. The average share of Republicans expressing trust in the federal government increased to 25% in April 2017 and currently stands at 28%.

Today, just 12% of Democrats trust the federal government to do what is right an historic low. Prior to Trumps inauguration, the lowest average share of Democrats saying they trusted the government always or most of the time over the more than 60 years since the question was first asked, was 17%, towards the end of George W. Bushs administration in 2008. More Democrats now say they never trust the federal government to do what is right than say they can trust it always or most of the time.

Is The United States A Democracy

Yes, the United States is a democracy, since we, the people, hold the ultimate political power. Were not a direct democracy, but we are a representative democracy.

This is where our history education might add some confusion. We are commonly taught that democracy is a product of ancient Greece. Its their word demokratia after all. The city-state of Athens is credited with implementing a system of government of and by the people, whereby eligible citizens would congregate to make decisions. Theyd make these decisions themselves , not through any elected representatives.

That system of government, better understood today as direct democracy, lives on in the United States in the form of ballot initiatives and referenda. Some states and localities afford their citizens the right to use these measures to directly enact, change, or repeal laws themselves.

More commonly, we exercise our political power in a different way: by voting in elections to choose our representatives. Thats representative democracy.

The Constitution does not use the term democracy. Its true. But as Eugene Volokh notes in the Washington Post, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Noah Webster, Justice James Wilson and Chief Justice John Marshall all used the word. These scholars understood representative democracy the American variety to be democracy all the same.

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Penalties And Transfer Of Offenders

A serious violation of the law may lead to a jail sentence or, in some states, a death sentence. Canadian citizenship confers no immunity, special protection or rights to preferential treatment.

If a jail sentence is imposed, it will be served in a U.S. prison, unless a request for a transfer to a Canadian prison is approved by the United States and Canada. Both countries have signed a treaty that permits a Canadian imprisoned in the United States to request a transfer to complete the sentence in a Canadian prison.

Federal Courts And Judicial Agencies

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The Constitution gives Congress the authority to establish other federal courts to handle cases that involve federal laws including tax and bankruptcy, lawsuits involving U.S. and state governments or the Constitution, and more. Other federal judicial agencies and programs support the courts and research judicial policy.

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Unanimous Election Of George Washington

John Langdon was presiding over the new United States Senate on April 6, 1789, when the electoral votes electing George Washington as president and John Adams as vice president were counted. Langdon’s letter notifying Washington of your unanimous election was carried to Mount Vernon by Charles Thomson, secretary of the outgoing Confederation Congress.

Letter from John Langdon to George Washington, April 6, 1789. Manuscript. George Washington Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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Is The United States A Democracy Or A Republic

We often hear a question debated in person and online by Americans who care deeply about making sure our government works for the people: is the United States a democracy or a republic?

Heres the answer: The United States is both a democracy and a republic.

We promise were not dodging the question. It would be much easier if one word was absolutely correct and the other was not, but the terms are not mutually exclusive. The United States can be accurately defined as both a democracy and a republic.

Lets break down why.

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The Us Government Is Ending The China Initiative Now What

The Justice Departments effort to prosecute cases of economic espionage had drifted from its stated mission and drawn fierce criticism for appearing to target researchers because of their ethnicity.

The US Justice Department is ending its controversial China Initiative and will pivot to a new strategy to counter threats from nation states, it announced February 24. The program began under the Trump administration as an effort to root out economic espionage, but drew criticism for falling short of that stated goal while increasingly focusing on academics and researchers of Chinese descent.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, in an announcement made during a talk at the National Security Institute at George Mason University, said that after a review of the program, he has concluded that the China Initiative is not the right approach” to countering national security threats. “Instead, the current threat landscape, demands a broader approach.”

Make no mistake we will be relentless in defending our country from China, he said. But our review convinced us that a new approach is needed to tackle the most severe threats.

To support MIT Technology Review’s journalism, please consider becoming a subscriber.

He emphasized his belief that the departments actions were driven by genuine national security concerns, but said that by grouping cases under the China Initiative, the DOJ helped create a perception that it treats people with ties to China differently.

The White House Since The Kennedy Restoration

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Congress enacted legislation in September 1961 declaring the White House a museum. Furniture, fixtures, and decorative arts could now be declared either historic or of artistic interest by the president. This prevented them from being sold . When not in use or display at the White House, these items were to be turned over to the for preservation, study, storage, or exhibition. The White House retains the right to have these items returned.:29

Out of respect for the historic character of the White House, no substantive architectural changes have been made to the house since the Truman renovation. Since the Kennedy restoration, every presidential family has made some changes to the private quarters of the White House, but the must approve any modifications to the State Rooms. Charged with maintaining the historical integrity of the White House, the congressionally-authorized committee works with each First Family usually represented by the first lady, the , and the to implement the family’s proposals for altering the house.

During the Nixon Administration , First Lady refurbished the Green Room, Blue Room, and Red Room, working with Clement Conger, the curator appointed by President . Mrs. Nixon’s efforts brought more than 600 artifacts to the house, the largest acquisition by any administration. Her husband created the over ‘s old swimming pool. Nixon also added a single-lane bowling alley to the White House basement.

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Why Is The Us Census Important To Governments

The United States government carries out a census every ten years, as is set forth in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The census survey asks questions about people in the United States. The survey gathers information about how many people are in a household, how old they are, and how they self-identify their gender, race, and ethnicity. In 1790 the first census counted 4 million people living in the United States. According to the 2020 census, there are more than 331 million.

The census count tells a state how many people it can send to represent it in the U.S. Congress, which includes both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Every state sends two people to the Senate. But the House of Representatives is differentthe number of people a state sends to the House is based on that states population. According to the 2020 census, the state with the smallest population is Wyoming, while the state with the largest population is California. Wyoming can send only one person to the House of Representatives, but California can send 52 people to the House.

The census, in other words, provides the data on which governmentwhose focus is the people of the United Statesand its potential activity are built.

Understanding How The Us Government Is Organized

The United States government is best categorized as a constitutional federal republic. This means that the United States is governed primarily by elected representatives and an elected leader, and that power is balanced between the federal government and the governments of the states.

If a government is constitutional, that means that it relies on a constitution that describes the distribution of political power within that government. A constitution can be either a legally binding document or a set of principles that is accepted as law. Constitutional governments typically divide political power between a number of different roles and offices, making it necessary for these different offices to cooperate with each other in order to establish or make changes to laws. In the United States, the Constitution is accepted as the supreme law of the United States, and all elected officials, including the president and Supreme Court Judges, must swear to uphold it.

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What Does That Mean What Difference Does It Make

Dont blame me! I sent the bill to , and the Senate threw it out, or mangled it beyond recognition

I introduced the bill Id promised in the Senate, but the House of Representatives threw it out or reduced it to shreds and tatters

I introduced my bill in the House of Representatives, but the Senate rejected it or made mincemeat of it . Dont blame me!

Here,

we have adopted a different system. We have expressly declared that all subjects of general interest not distinctly and exclusively conferred upon the local governments and legislatures shall be conferred upon the general government and legislature. We have thus avoided that great source of weakness that has been the disruption of the United States. We hereby strengthen the central , and make the Confederation one people and one government, instead of five peoples and five governments, with merely a point of authority connecting us to a limited and insufficient extent.

Constitution Act, 1867

State & Local Government

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Under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all powers not granted to the Federal Government are reserved for the States and the people. All State Governments are modeled after the Federal Government and consist of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The U.S. Constitution mandates that all states uphold a republican form of government, although the three-branch structure is not required.

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Preface To The United States

The United States Constitution is the oldest federal constitution in existence. It was so well framed that it has served as the basis for this government for two centuries. Only once has it been seriously endangered, this being during the Civil War. Many of its principles have been adopted by other countries.

The Constitution was the outgrowth of a convention of delegates from the different states that met in Philadelphia in May, 1787, Rhode Island not being represented. George Washington presided over the convention, which lasted from May to September.

The Constitution was then submitted to the then existing states for ratification, with a provision that it should become effective when ratified by nine states. New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify, June 21, 1788, and the Constitution went into effect in 1789.

The states ratified the Constitution in the following order: Delaware, Dec. 7 Pennsylvania, Dec. 12, and New Jersey, Dec. 18, 1787 Georgia, Jan. 2 Connecticut, Jan. 9 Massachusetts, Feb. 6 Maryland, Apr. 28 South Carolina, May 23 New Hampshire, June 21 Virginia, June 25, and New York, July 26, 1788 North Carolina, Nov. 21, 1789, and Rhode Island, May 29, 1790.

A Moment Of Celebration And A Need For Reflection

But even with the end of the initiative, there is a palpable fear in the academic community, says Rory Truex, a Princeton University professor who has written about the initiatives effect on American science.

Its notable that hundreds of people in the academic community have come together to push back against the governments actionsincluding many researchers who are not ethnically Chinese, Truex says.

Scientists and academics in general rarely act collectively, Truex says.

The changes to the initiative may not fully address the concerns in the Asian American community.

The end of the DOJs China Initiative is a huge step towards stopping the racial profiling of Chinese scientists, Jenny J. Lee, a professor in the University of Arizonas Center for Educational Policy Studies and Practice, wrote in an email to MIT Technology Review before Olsens announcement.

However, antagonistic views of China, including those associated with China, will likely continue, she added. Negative stereotypes and discrimination against the Asian community extend well beyond the courtroom.

And for the scientists who have been prosecuted by the government, the ordeal also continuessometimes for yearsafter they are exonerated.

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So Which Term Should I Use

Its really up to you. In practice, the word republic has the same meaning as the term representative democracy. And a representative democracy is a form of democracy in the same way that a Granny Smith apple is a form of apple. We wouldnt say its inaccurate to use apple to describe a Granny Smith apple, so its OK to follow in the footsteps of Jefferson, Adams, Webster, and Chief Justice Marshall and simply call our representative democracy a democracy.

But its also accurate to call the United States a republic. Its mostly about your preference of words. Hopefully, this post will help lower the heat in the online debate. Lets put our energy toward working to fix our government so it represents the people!

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