The Constitution is based on several key principals the most notable would include: separation of powers as well as checks and balances. Separation of powers is when there are clearly defined powers that are given to the various branches of: the government, the federal government and the states. Checks and balances is when one branch of the government will have the power to the check the authority of another branch. (Wood) for example, the Constitution would specifically spell out various powers of the executive branch. During the course of exercising these different powers, a citizen brings a lawsuit against the government in the judicial branch. Where, they claim that the actions that the executive branch is taking are unconstitutional. In this particular case, the executive branch would work off of the powers given to them in the Constitution. When they begin to overstep these boundaries, another branch of the government will place these powers in check. In the above example, the power of the executive branch is placed in check by the judicial branch. This is significant because it highlights how the American political system was born out of the various frustrations with the British system. Where, the creators wanted to have a way to separate the overall powers of the different branches, so that they do not infringe upon the rights of ordinary citizens. (Wood)
The Structure of the American Political System
The American political system is divided into three different areas to include: executive, legislative and judicial branches. The leader of the executive branch is the President. He is in charge of: running the government, is head of the armed forces and is the head of state. The overall powers of the President can be limited in scope at times. This is because the founders were afraid that the President could become too dominant within the government and would eventually become nothing more than an elected king. There are a number of different powers that President is given these would include: the power to sign / veto legislation, the powers to nominate government officials, the power to make treaties, the power to defend the nation against foreign invaders and the power to issue regulatory guidelines / give pardons. (Darlington) the power to sign / veto legislation is when the President is acting as the final voice in determining if a particular bill will become a law. Where, if the legislation is signed it will automatically become the law of land. On the other hand, if the legislation is vetoed it will go back to legislative branch for further consideration. If they have enough votes to override the veto (a 2/3 majority), then the bill will become a law. (Darlington)
The power to nominate government officials is when the President has the power to appoint the different heads of the various departments within the government, judges for the judicial branch and the different advisors to the President (the Cabinet). Once these different appointments have been approved by the legislative branch, is when the various individuals can begin working within the government. (Darlington) a good example of this would be when the President is appointing the Secretary of Defense. This is a high level position that would be considered a part of the President's cabinet. During this process the President would select who they would like to serve in the position, then the Senate (the upper house of the legislature) will approve the nomination.
The power to make treaties is when the President has the authority to sign various treaties / agreements with foreign countries and organizations. However, the different provisions will not go into affect until the treaty / agreement has been approved by the legislative branch. (Darlington) for example, the President signs a treaty with 25 different countries committing the United States to various responsibilities. The treaty will not go into affect until the Senate has had a chance to debate and vote on it. If the vote is successful, then the various provisions will go into effect. However, if the treaty does not make it through the Senate, then the various provisions would not apply to the United States (despite the fact that the President signed the treaty)
The power to defend the country against foreign invaders is when the President has the authority to order the military, to engage in actions that will protect the nation from invasion. (Darlington) a good example would be when the President places the Reserves and National Guard on alert. These are a part of the armed forces that supplement the active duty personnel. During a time of war or perceived dangers to the country, this action is preparing the military for the possibility that hostilities are imminent.
The power to give regulatory guidelines / issue pardons is when the President has the power to issue what is known as executive orders. These are specific regulatory requirements that could be used to provide more regulations under the law. (Darlington) an example of this is when the President issues an executive order requiring automobile emissions to be cut dramatically by the year 2016. This order is in line with the powers given to the President under the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ("Fuel Efficiency Standards Hiked for 2011") Where, they have the power to regulate automobile emissions.
The power to grant pardons is when the President has the authority to grant pardons for those people who were convicted or are accused of criminal activity. Under this power, once the President grants the pardon, the person is considered to be free of all charges or potential charges relating to a particular matter. A good example of the use of this power would be when President Clinton pardoned Marc Rich in 2000. He was accused of violating American law by trading with the Iranians immediately after the 1979 Revolution. When he was standing trail for these charges he fled to Switzerland and was wanted as a fugitive on the run. Once Rich was pardoned, meant that he could freely travel into the United States without of fear of arrest or prosecution on the matter. (Dell)
The election of the President takes place through what is known as the Electoral College, every four years. What happens is the Electoral College is designed as way to ensure that someone who is a radical (such as an Adolph Hitler) are unable to take power, despite the fact that they may have won the popular vote. The way that it works, is that the Presidential race will involve having the citizens vote for who they would like to see running the country. When the President wins the popular vote in the state, they will win the electoral votes of that state. In January, when the Electoral College will meet, the different electors will vote for the President based upon (how the citizens of the state voted or they can vote for who they think should be President). Who ever wins in the Electoral College, will be sworn in as President later on in the month. (Darlington)
The legislative branch is divided into two different chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate (commonly called Congress). The members of the House are elected every two years. Their districts are based upon the overall size of the population within a given area. Where, those areas that have large amounts of the population will have more seats available, to represent the larger interests within a Congressional district. (Darlington) the Senate is elected every six years, with the maximum number of Senators for each state set at two. The way that various pieces of legislation are considered is through the committee system. This is where both Houses will have committees and sub-committees, to consider various pieces of legislation. When the House and the Senate are working together to make the language along with the provisions of a bill the same, they would work through what is known as a joint committee. This is when both houses have passed two different pieces of legislation and must know reconcile the two bills as one, to go to the President. (Darlington)
In the Constitution, Congress is given a number of different powers the most notable would include: the power to spend, the power of advice / consent, regulation of commerce and the power to impeach. (Darlington) the power to spend is when Congress will decide various issues such as: taxation policy and how much money the government will be spending in the various departments of the executive branch. This is significant because this separation of power is designed to place a check on the overall authority of the President. Where, if an action is very unpopular within Congress, they have the authority to reduce or cut off spending to a number of different programs. (Darlington)
The Senate has the power of advice and consent. This simply means that any kind of: treaties that…