This paper will explore the historical basis for the Constitution of the United States and the changes that have occurred both gradually and radically during short history of the U.S. Constitution. This paper will also review the structure of local, state and federal government and make note of the changes that have occurred in rules and laws since the signing of this most important document in American governmental history.
Assigning a definition to the meaning of the words "government," "politics," and "power" has always been a source of contemplation, speculation and eventually the cause of much litigation as disagreements have arisen. Aristotle and his student, Plato both gave much thought to the possible meaning of those worlds as have political scientists and philosophers discovering difficulty in securing a definition of these elements in society. In some form or the other, even in the most primitive of societies it has been noted that eventually a leader will arise and through this leadership gain power.
Very simply defined government is composed of the institutions and individuals and processes that naturally develop within a society from the common rules formed within that society. That however, is government in simple structure only. Again, very basically, the government performs two key services.. First the government makes rules. Secondly, governments resolve, or attempt to resolve, conflicts in states and communities. As stated by David Easton:
Even in the smallest and simplest society someone must intervene in the name of society with its authority behind him, to decide how differences over value things are to be resolved.
This authoritative allocation of values is a minimum prerequisite of any society....Every society provides some mechanisms, however rudimentary they may be for authoritatively resolving differences about the ends that are to be pursued, that is, for deciding who is to get what there is of the desirable things."
The word Democracy has Greek roots being traced to the word, demos. The definition of demos in the Greek language is "populace." Populace, society, the population, all of these define and clarify what the fore fathers intended the government structure and foundation to be when they wrote "by the people and for the people" into the language of the U.S. Constitution.
However, there have been those who did not see democracy in this light. Leader of the Democrats Tammany Hall, Boss Tweed" was noted over a century ago of having stated that:
The way to have power is to take it."
The Role of Local Government
The country is a nation comprise of "states," however some of these states were here before the official forming of the nation. Major expenditures of State and Local governments are generally in the following areas:
Hospitals, health and sanitation
Police, correction and fire
Administration and interest
Natural Resources and recreation
Housing and Urban development
Cities are chartered by the states as municipal governments. Home rule is the power backing municipalities in modification of their charters and the running of their affairs without approval by the legislature, subject, of course, to the Constitution and laws of the state. The three basic forms of government are:
The Mayor and City Council Form: Most cities employ this type of government with the mayor having power over the executive city agencies and an elected city council.
The Council and Manager Form: This form of government in cities was founded before World War I in Virginia in the towns of Staunton, Virginia and Sumter South Carolina. In this form of government the elected council under a non-party ticket employs a city planner as the head administrator of the city with hiring and firing powers Generally, city managers are trained and educated for this type job and are neutral politically.
Commission Form: This form of government is usually appointed in the event of an emergency such as floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters or in time of war.
City employees face dealing with a wide array of categories that concern the city while serving in their capacity of a public employee. Urban transportation, poverty housing development, conservation, sanitation and other issues are the not so pleasant tasks facing city management.
II. Local Political Forces
Floyd Hunter, a sociologist, made popular the term "power structure" approximately fifty years ago. Floyd studied community leadership in one of Georgia's hotspots, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team, Atlanta, Georgia. In a study of a group comprised of forty people, Floyd's conclusion was that policy in Atlanta was decided by businessmen of the top ranks using the workings of government to their own ends and means.
History tells that the politics in big cities has generally characterized urban policy and politics, with the practice of obtaining votes from immigrants and minorities through the promise of jobs or other benefits. City governments and administrators influence the power of a city with a mayor infused with power through his associations and business connections. However, within this form of government the mayoral position is shared with other elected city officials, party leaders and appointed officials keeping the government balanced. There are, even today, within some cities and towns, those mayors who use their position to build special interest groups that support their issues and agendas
III. Politics and Police Administration
The Constitution has historically limited the power that politics and police administration can play in relation to violation of the citizens and their rights. The Bill of Rights, which are a part of the Constitution protect, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press. Some of those freedoms are: The right to bear arms, the right to assemble, inclusive of the right to form protests as well as the right to dissent from majority opinion. Other guarantees of the Constitution are the right to a speedy trial by members of peers as well as not being deprived of life, liberty, property of due process of law. Other rights are those of proper and legal search and seizure.
The laws are constantly under scrutiny and ever open to change, as is very adequately explained and demonstrated in "Police Administration: Structures, Processes, Behavior."
In history, these Constitutional rights have been affirmed by the Supreme Court but with the advance of the "Homeland Security" and "Patriot Acts" there are regularly news reports in regards to those Constitutional rights either being violated or legislated away by the present administration in Washington.
Leadership has taken many forms and personalities in the history of the United States. Depending upon the "state of affairs" in the country the leadership is either granted a popular public opinion or a negative one. However, there are certain groups that believe that an agenda to totally destroy the Constitution is emerging from where it has managed to hide since the time of Hitler's rise in the Nazi Party. The vast amount of funding necessary to even run for office, much less run a winning campaign is astronomical.
The Presidential election of 2004 is still, according to certain grassroots groups still under scrutiny and news has recently emerged of voter fraud in the State of Florida, where incidentally, the Governor is brother of the current "elected" President, George Bush. Constitutional provisions are not for the election of President by popular votes but by "electoral" votes. Electoral votes are determined by the number of Representatives and Senators that states have elected to represent them in Washington. That number is decided on State population figures. The candidate with the greatest number of electoral votes at the end of the election tallies is the newly elected president for the next four-year term.
The Nature of Leadership
If it is correct, that "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely," as stated by Lord Acton, 19th Century historian, then there must be a type of balance or a set of scales, figuratively speaking, which actions and policies of the leader in government can be weighed upon. The Constitution did indeed provide such a set of "checks" and "balances" which is referred to quite often as "the scales of justice." The federal government and national government are two separate entities.
Presidents have shown creativity in their reach for extended power through attempts to restructure the government or bureaucracy. The forming of the federal bureaucracy in 1970 in which the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was created gave the President leverage of control in bureaucracy.
The federal bureaucracy is inclusive of three agencies. Those are:
Independent Executive Agencies
Independent Regulatory Commissions
The national government is composed of the Congress, the Senate and the House. There are only three ways to make amendments to the Constitution. They are:
Proposal of an amendment by a two-thirds vote of both houses of congress and three-fourths of the legislatures in each state ratifying the amendment. This is the traditional method of Constitutional amendment.
Proposal of an amendment by two-thirds vote of both houses of congress with ratifying conventions in three-fourths of…