The Basics of Government

A government is the system or group of people who govern an organized community, generally a state. Governments make laws, enforce those laws and provide services to their citizens. They also defend the country from external threats.

The earliest governments were probably tribes with chiefs who ruled by various rituals or tests of strength. Over time, as humans developed agriculture and water control projects they could support larger populations, and they needed to find ways to organize their societies. They started to use leaders, rules and laws to create more permanent communities that became known as states.

A state is a sizable group of people who live together, often sharing language, customs, or religion. A nation is a broader idea that describes the people who share that commonality. A country is a nation that occupies a definite territory, and has an organized government.

Governments have many different jobs, and each has its own role and responsibilities. A government’s basic function is to provide leadership and maintain order. It is also responsible for providing public services, protecting national security and providing economic assistance.

What are the different types of governments? How do they differ in their level of control and features? These are all important questions to answer in determining what kind of government is best for a particular society.

Various scholars and philosophers have answered these questions differently. Thomas Hobbes, for example, believed that without some form of order and governance, humans would turn to violence as they struggled to survive. John Locke built upon this idea and argued that all humans have a natural right to life, liberty and property.

The founders of the United States were concerned about tyranny, and they designed their system with three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. They wanted each branch to have limited powers so they could check the others. This is called the system of checks and balances.

Each branch has a different job, but they all work together to keep the system functioning properly. The President, for example, makes sure that the laws Congress creates are followed by everyone. He also acts as our head of state when we meet with leaders in other countries. Congress makes laws, but the President can veto them or override them with enough votes in either chamber. The Supreme Court interprets and applies the Federal laws, but the executive and judicial branches must give their approval to Presidential nominations, for example.

The Federal government also has many agencies and departments with responsibilities ranging from environmental protection to enforcing immigration law. These are all part of our government and all work together to serve the nation’s interests. Many of these agencies also have a social mission and provide assistance to citizens. This has long been a controversial topic as some believe that it takes away the responsibility of individuals to take care of themselves and that governments should only provide aid when necessary. Others, such as President Lyndon Johnson, created programs such as national medical insurance and welfare to reduce poverty and hunger in the United States.