American Political Systems, Essay Example
The American Political system has a clear definition based on the some basic documents, the declaration of Independence and the constitution which is the foundation of United States federal government. United States establishment as an independent political entity is all based on declaration of independence while on the other hand the Constitution builds the major structure of the federal government. The system for making policy establishes very expected results, and among them are the very fundamentals of politics that so many Americans find undesirable. Consider the effects of four constitutional provisions on how U.S. makes policy.
The separation of powers: this has at least two important results. First, the president and Congress will be competitors, even when they are from the same political party. The White House and Congress will compete for power over the policies and personnel of the government. Stalemates will be the rule, not the exception, and they will only be overcome by a national crisis, a powerful tide of public opinion, or tough political negotiating. For example, if the president wants to cut the debt by reducing spending and Congress wants to cut it by increasing taxes, a political standoff will occur, as happened during much of the Reagan and Bush administrations and during Clinton’s first term. Second, members of Congress will first and foremost represent their districts and states. Practically no bill will become a law except if it is first regulated to reflect the varying demands of local constituencies. A president might object that congress members work to obtain unwanted benefits for instance roads, parks, bridges and etc… for their districts. Calling it “port-barrel politics” doesn’t change that vital political actuality.
Federalism: the states have an independent political rank. This is why, it is very hard to have a truly “national” policy on anything. And even when we do have a national policy, the states play a big role in applying it. For example, the states have significant responsibility for implementing pollution control programs and building big highways, whereas most of the money comes from Washington. And they play the dominating role in schooling, law enforcement, and land-use controls and pay most of those bills.
Judicial review: the federal courts can mention an act of president or Congress unconstitutional and can identify suits brought by people arguing either that a federal agency has exceeded its legal authority or that it has not done all the law requires. The courts have clearly played a important role in racial integrating and civil liberties cases, but they also play an important, though less noticeable, role in implementing laws affecting the environment, occupational safety and healthy, and highway construction.
Freedom of speech and assembly: the first Amendment ensures the right of individuals to speak their minds and lobby their senators and representatives. This right cannot be protected for individuals and denied to groups; after all, groups are just collections of likeminded individuals. As a result, placing any meaningful restrictions on the activities of lobbyists is next to impossible.
When we add together the impacts of these four components of our Constitution, we get a specifically American system of policy making. Though it has many unique features, the best word to describe our system of government is adversarial – that is, a system that encourages involvement by people who have an compensation to fight rather than cooperate. . Freedom of speech shields each person’s right to engage; the separation of powers and federalism means any engagement can normally find a political ally; the decentralized structure of congress facilitates each member an incentive to call attention to himself or herself by making speeches, taking positions, and attacking adversaries; and an interstate highway system, passed a set of civil rights laws, started the Medicare program for the elderly, implemented a series of increasingly severe environmental laws, explained outer space, deregulated the airlines, researched outer space, waged and won a forty five year cold war against the former Soviet Union, and maintained a level of economic growth and freedom most effective to make millions of people from all parts of the world want to immigrate to this country. It paid a price, of course, for all of this: higher than average taxes, more rules, and new groups to change (Cook, 1976).
Ever since our hard political system forms it easy for all kinds of people and groups to manage at least some power, we should not expect policies to get made in only one way. If we had a a lesser amount of participatory, less adversarial system, it would be much more uncomplicated to explain policy making. In the United States, everybody gets into the act. Some policies are recommended by the president and passed by Congress; others are proposed by members of Congress and enacted despite presidential objections (congress may override the president’s veto or sufficiently modify the proposal to get him to withhold his veto. When a congressional majority forms around a proposal, it is not always the result of one party (say, the Democrats) outvoting the other (the Republicans); rather, the most often consists of a alliance of Democrats and Republicans winning out over a smaller coalition of other Democrats and Republicans.
Cook, S. (1976). Democracy and Tyranny in America: The Radical Paradox of Bicentennial and Blacks in the American Political System. Journal Of Politics,38(3), 276.
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