How does the US political system work?

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  • Thread starter chound
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  • #1
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In India we have numerous parties almost 1 per street:tongue2:
But in the US there are only four;
SO to become the prez you have to join one of them?
Then there is the congress: What is its function?
 

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  • #2
Pengwuino
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Explaining an entire political system is going to take a long time... There are far more then 4 political parties... it's just that only 3 or 4 have much of a following or resources. Congress basically passes laws and delegates money...

a whole lot more to that but im no encyclopedia :P
 
  • #3
rachmaninoff
You could start here for background infromation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Government

There are effectively only two parties: "Democrats" and "elephants" (more commonly known as "Republicans"). This polarization comes about because in the US people* watch a lot of television, as a result they are mostly incapable of thinking or making choices. Also I think the diet has something to do with it - lots of sugar, together with unhealthy lifestyles.
*(not all, just a voting majority)

Traditionally, the Democratic party represented the "working class", aligned themselves with unions, favored increasing taxes and larger government; whereas the Republican party represented individualism, freedom from government, less taxation, and a smaller government with less bureaucracy. These positions have been blurred in recent history; for example, the current Republican party is actually creating a much bigger and more powerful bureaucracy.

If you've read this far, you're better informed than a quarter of the voting American populace. Feel good about yourself.
 
  • #4
Archon
In short, it doesn't.

Sorry, I could resist. :smile:
 
  • #5
Pengwuino
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Might want to go look it up in a text book rather then from the ideological viewpoints you'll soon see on here (you really picked the wrong forum oddly enough)
 
  • #6
Astronuc
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Archon said:
In short, it doesn't.
:rofl: That more or less what I was planning to say - "The problem is, that it doesn't work." :biggrin:

Actually, for a basic structure and the functions of the Federal government, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Constitution

Text - http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Constitution.html [Broken]

Then one has to read thousand so pages of the US Code - http://www.gpoaccess.gov/uscode/browse.html [Broken]

That takes care of the national (Federal) government.
Each of the 50 states has its own Constitution, for provisions of executive, legislative and judicial structure and functions.

Then local political units have charters, patents or other documents for describing their structure and function, e.g Los Angeles, CA - http://www.lacity.org/lacity102.htm [Broken]
 
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  • #7
meL
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Archon said:
In short, it doesn't.
Sorry, I could resist. :smile:
Good :smile:

The power structure in the world
can't work.

It is useless to talk about politics.

:bugeye:
 
  • #8
meL
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In other words,
the power structure
must collapse gently.
.
 
  • #9
Pengwuino
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haha i just thought up a good one

"politics has no room in government"
 
  • #10
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The president of US is elected but what about his ministers?

In India the Prime Minister heads the cabinet, he is elected, the other ministers are also elected(they have to be members of the Lok Sabha i.e. the house of Commons in the Parliament)

Is it true that if u commit a crime in one state u cant be arested in another
 
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  • #11
Pengwuino
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His equivalency would be his "Secretaries". You have say, the "secretary of State", the "Secretary of Defense", the "Secretary of Education", and they are all CHOSEN by the president (god if we had our population vote for each secretary now-a-days, no one would want to vote anymore!). The # of secretaries is also not a fixed #. I believe a President can arbitrarily add new secretaries (possibly with Congressional approval, im not sure). The first cabinets only had like... 5 secretaries while we now have 15.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/government/cabinet.html [Broken]

There they are as a matter of fact
 
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  • #12
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Then how are the people represented!!!
All the power is in the Prez's hands!!!!!
 
  • #13
Astronuc
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The people, more or less, elect the president, but indirectly. The US has a somewhat odd system called the Electoral College. While the people vote in a popular election for president, they are actually voting for members in the Electoral College, who in theory will express the intent of the voters, i.e. if the majority of voters vote for a particular person for president, then the EC will also vote for that person. But each state has a certain number of EC members apportioned according to the congressional representation. So some states have many more EC members, and although the national popular vote may favor one presidential candidate, it is entirely possible that another candidate.

The people are also represented by their congressional (House and Senate) members, who in theory provide some restraint on the president. However, as we have observed recently, when the president and majority of congress are from the same political party, the restraint or "checks and balances" are absent or ineffectual.
 
  • #14
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chound said:
Is it true that if u commit a crime in one state u cant be arested in another
it depends on the crime and both states laws
for most major crimes you will be arested and returned to the state
where the crime was commited
but hearings and govenors can slow or stop the process it is not automatic
for most minor crimes they just donot care to go thru the time and expence
 
  • #15
Pengwuino
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chound said:
Then how are the people represented!!!
All the power is in the Prez's hands!!!!!
The Legislative and judicial branches are meant to be checks and balances. The legislative branch is the only branch that is allowed to make laws or administer finances. The executive branch has its own "check" on the legislative branch by being able to veto legislation by the Congress. However, the Congress can once again override that veto if it can get a 2/3 vote to over-ride the President's veto (1/2 is required to pass laws). The Congress can also call for the impeachment and removal of a President which acts as another "check" on Executive power.

The Judicial Branch is basically our system of courts. At the top is the supreme court. They can rule if a Legislative action is unconstitutional and if it is, it must be thrown out. They can also do the same to an executive (Presidential) decision. The Executive branch has a "check" on them since the President is the one who decides who gets to be on in the courts when vacancies do arise. I actually don't remember how the Legislative branch has a "check" on the Judicial branch however...

Lately however, everyone is getting a bit out of line. For example, the Judicial branch is doing something called "Legislating from the bench". The Judicial Branch's main function is suppose to be that they decide if laws passed from congress or actions of the President are Constitutional or not. Now it has gotten to a point where they are almost literally passing their own laws. Recently the Supreme Court ruled on what is being termed as "Eminent Domain" and it is being taken as if it were an entirely new law! The Legislative is also getting out of hand by having a minority dictate what is going on and encroaching on the Presiden't power to appoint judges to the courts. I won't comment on what teh President is doing since that'll really get people going. It seems what the US Constitution and the US Code feel is wrong for a President to do is not in line with what a portion of this country feels is wrong for a President to do.
 
  • #16
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Archon said:
In short, it doesn't.
Sorry, I could resist. :smile:
You beat me to it.
 
  • #17
rachmaninoff
Pengwuino said:
Recently the Supreme Court ruled on what is being termed as "Eminent Domain" and it is being taken as if it were an entirely new law!
This is utterly, utterly false! Eminent domain was sanctioned way back in the original Bill of Rights, in the 5th amendment:

5th Amendment said:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The phrase "eminent domain" has existed for 150+ years:
The term eminent domain is used primarily in the United States, where the term was derived in the mid-19th Century from a legal treatise written by the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius in 1625.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminent_domain

The recent supreme court ruling was essentially an affirmation of existing law. There is currently legislation to do away with it; it recently passed in the House of Representatives. The courts themselves could not get rid of it or rule it unconsitutional - it's right there in the Constitution!
 
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  • #18
Pengwuino
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rachmaninoff said:
This is utterly, utterly false! Eminent domain was sanctioned way back in the original Bill of Rights, in the 5th amendment:

The phrase "eminent domain" has existed for 150+ years:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminent_domain

The recent supreme court ruling was essentially an affirmation of existing law. There is currently legislation to do away with it; it recently passed in the House of Representatives. The courts themselves could not get rid of it or rule it unconsitutional - it's right there in the Constitution!
Bah, you caught me on it. Ok i guess we have to get technical about it. Eminent domain has been the idea that the government can take private property for the public good (ie a house to allow for a freeway or train station or military base to be established). A new ruling (which people ARE referring to as "eminent domain" even though yes, it makes little sense since the idea has been in practice a good 200 years or so) allows the government to take land with a much broader definition of "public good". The new sense is pretty much anything and everything that might improve an area of town be it a shopping mall, movie theatre, or mcdonalds as long as a politician approves of it can be considered "eminent domain". This is paving the way for a lot of private companies to go in and take property as long as some politician approves of it. It is pretty much a defacto law.

You are wrong however in saying that it is affirming existing law. It is re-interpretting existing law to make it applicable in a much broader sense.
 
  • #19
selfAdjoint
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rachmaninoff said:
The recent supreme court ruling was essentially an affirmation of existing law. There is currently legislation to do away with it; it recently passed in the House of Representatives. The courts themselves could not get rid of it or rule it unconsitutional - it's right there in the Constitution!
Not so. The decision was brand new law redifining the previously accepted standard of what is "public use" in the amendment you quoted. It also has implications for interpeting "just compensation".

If all that had been at stake was the existence of eminent domain, the case would never have reached the Supreme Court. It would have been declared against whichever side denied the law, and would have been reaffirmed at every level and the Suprems would rightly have refused cert.
 
  • #20
russ_watters
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chound said:
Then how are the people represented!!!
All the power is in the Prez's hands!!!!!
No, the President doesn't have all that much power. He can't write laws or run the courts.
 
  • #21
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chound said:
The president of US is elected but what about his ministers?

In India the Prime Minister heads the cabinet, he is elected, the other ministers are also elected(they have to be members of the Lok Sabha i.e. the house of Commons in the Parliament)
The President gets to choose his Cabinet members, but they all have to be approved by the Senate (upper house of the legislature) with a majority vote. Generally, however, the Senate will not reject any of the Presidents choices. The idea is that the President was chosen by the people, and as a result, should get to choose whoever he thinks would be best to head up the various executive departments in the country. There are no specific criteria that the President's Secretaries must fulfil. They don't have to be in the Legislature, and infact, very rarely are.

I'm not sure how India's system works, but in the USA, along with the President and his Cabinet Members, lots of executive power is actually exercised by the legislative branch. Both the House of Representatives (lower house) and the Senate (upper house) have many comittees that make lots of executive-style decisions. As has been said before, anything that involves spending money must generally go through both houses of the legislature. So if the Senate or House of Representatives wants some action to be taken, they can essentially legislate that it must be, and designate resources for it be made available.

For instance, the Congress was the body that decided how much Federal money would go to releif in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, and set up how it would be used. The President didn't really have much say in it.
 
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  • #22
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Pengwuino said:
Might want to go look it up in a text book rather then from the ideological viewpoints you'll soon see on here (you really picked the wrong forum oddly enough)
Yeah, as if there's a *right* internet forum to ask it on.
 
  • #23
Pengwuino
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Smurf said:
Yeah, as if there's a *right* internet forum to ask it on.
I meant sub-forum. I figure a government question is kinda a humanities question. Why must you always question me smurf. It gets my feathers all up in a knot.
 
  • #24
Skyhunter
chound said:
Then how are the people represented!!!
All the power is in the Prez's hands!!!!!
Not in the Presidents hands. In the Vice Presidents hands.

You see our President is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Dick Cheney can focus on increasing and hoarding as much power in the executive branch as he possibly can, while Bush gets to wield the power.

All the power is not in the Executive branch. Although up until recently they had a tremendous amount of influence over both houses of Congress.

Now that the Presidents popularity is low, other members of the Republican Congress are now beginning to distance themselves from the President, or define themselves as a viable conservative candidate in 2008. As things get worse, and they will, the less influence the President will have over Congress.

Fortunately, America is still ruled by law, so the 20-40% of Americans that believe America should become an unfettered power spreading Democracy and capitalism to the rest of the world by allowing the Executive branch near dictatorial powers, will not get their way this time.
 
  • #25
Pengwuino
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I knew I said something somewhere about how ideology is bound to ruin this guys understanding of the US political system....
 

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