Government is the group of adults who make the rules we live by and then ensure those rules are followed. The government of the United States is made up of three branches; legislative (Congress, Senate, and House of Representatives), executive (president and cabinet), and judicial (Supreme Court and other federal courts). This article describes how these three branches work together to set and enforce laws. It also explains how the government makes sure citizens have access to basic services like education, healthcare, and public defense.
Governments are necessary to manage social conflict and provide a safety net for people who can’t take care of themselves. Governments also regulate the economy by establishing rules that prevent market failures and protect private property. For example, governments might limit a company’s power to create monopolies and address negative side effects for third parties, such as pollution. Governments also provide public goods, such as roads and schools, for everyone to enjoy.
While it’s easy to complain about the role of government, most problems are too big for individuals to solve. Moreover, some disputes are too heated to resolve privately, and their consequences too damaging to ignore. Therefore, most societies need a body that is willing to intervene on their behalf.
Although there are many different types of government, most share certain key characteristics. These include: majority rule with minority rights, accountability of elected officials, limited power, a Bill of Rights, and checks and balances.
Some of these features are essential for all governments, while others are more specific to some types than others. For instance, all governments should have a legal system that provides justice for all citizens. Regardless of their structure, all governments should be responsive to their citizens and serve them well.
It’s impossible to create a government of perfect angels who would never try to grab more power than they should, so a government needs to be structured so that ambition is countered by a system of checks and balances. For example, a government should split power into separate departments so that any one department can’t control everything in the country. This way, the government will be less likely to become corrupt.
In a modern democracy, most people get involved in politics through their local government, such as city councils and district, circuit, and county courts. These local government bodies oversee budgeting for civic functions and projects; develop, amend, and pass city ordinances; and provide recreational, educational, and social services. They also handle low-level disputes, such as traffic tickets and domestic abuse cases. When the case goes higher up, it’s transferred to state Supreme Courts or the nation’s federal courts.