What Is Government?


Government is the system of people and institutions that makes and enforces the rules of a community or nation. Governments have many goals, but a few of them include economic prosperity for the nation, secure national borders, and the safety and welfare of citizens. Governments also provide services that help people with everyday life, such as education and roads. These are often called social programs. The debate about what role government should play in providing these programs is still alive today.

Most governments have three main branches, or areas of responsibility: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. The legislative branch makes laws, and is most well known as Congress. The executive branch, led by the president, makes sure that the laws are followed. The judicial branch, consisting of the Supreme Court and other courts, interprets laws and decides how they apply to individual cases. When the founding fathers designed the United States government, they made sure that each of these branches had limits on its power so that no one area of the country could control the whole government. This is called the system of checks and balances.

Each branch also has the power to change or veto laws that the other branches put into action. For example, the president can send bills back to the legislature with suggested changes, and the Supreme Court can overturn a law that the president thinks is unconstitutional. This means that there are limits on how powerful each branch of the government is, but these limits can be abused if someone wants to gain power and influence over all the other branches.

The most difficult thing about defining a form of government is that there are many ways to organize people and their responsibilities into a system of rule. Different countries have different types of governments, and the differences are based on things like how much power each person has, who has that power, and what kinds of values each society emphasizes.

Historically, most of the world’s nations have been democracies. A democracy is a political system in which the citizens choose their leaders by voting in elections. Democracies are the most common kind of government, but there are many other ways to organize people and assign responsibilities. Some examples of other kinds of governments are monarchy – a government run by a single sovereign who rules for life and has hereditary rights – and oligarchy – a government ruled by a small group of people who are considered morally and intellectually superior.

In the United States, all of the states except Nebraska have a bicameral legislature – two chambers of the state legislature. The smaller upper chamber is usually called the Senate and has 100 members, while the larger lower chamber is usually called the House of Representatives and has 435 members (the number of senators varies depending on how many new states are added). The President of the United States is the head of the executive branch of the federal government, and he represents the entire country when talking to other world leaders.