The History Of The Political System Of The United States

The Political System of the United States is a Republic which has given power to the President, Congress and Judicial System provided by the Constitution.  Its power is shared sovereignty with State Governments.

The President forms the Executive Branch.  His cabinet serves as a set of advisers and includes the Vice President and the heads of various departments.  Legislative power is given to the Senate (Senators) and House of Representatives (Congressmen).  The Judicial Branch is composed of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts whose job is to interpret the Constitution..

The current ideology of American politics is composed of two major political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, which have dominated American politics since the American Civil War.  Smaller parties have emerged, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, and the Constitution Party, bur rarely have an impact.

The American political system has emerged as the leader over most other developed countries due to it’s Separation of Powers between the legislature, judicial and the executive branches and the dominance of two major parties.  State controls maintain the balance of power including the election process.

This multiplicity of jurisdictions reflects the country’s history. The federal government was created by the states, which as colonies were established separately and governed themselves independently of the others. Units of local government were created by the colonies to efficiently carry out various state functions. As the country expanded, it admitted new states modeled on the existing ones.

What Is The Ideology Of American Politics

Republicanism, along with a form of classical liberalism, remains the dominant ideology.  The documents of control include the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, The Federalist Papers, Bill of Rights, and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1863), among others. Among the core foundations of this ideology are the following:

•    Civic duty: Citizens have the responsibility to understand and support the government, participate in elections, pay taxes, and perform military service.
•    Opposition to Political corruption
•    Democracy: The government is answerable to citizens, who may change the representatives through elections.
•    Equality before the law: The laws should attach no special privilege to any citizen. Government officials are subject to the law just as others are
•    Freedom of religion: The government can neither support nor suppress religion
•    Freedom of speech: The government cannot restrict through law or action the personal speech of a citizen; a marketplace of ideas.

The Emergence Of The Liberal and Socialist Ideology

The precepts of the United States is founded on capitalism, the idea one could build a life of freedom using his or her strengths to accumulate wealth, build a life and establish a home and family.  From the time the United States was founded, agriculture and small private businesses dominated the economy, and state governments left welfare issues to private or local initiative. Laissez-faire ideology was largely abandoned in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Between the 1930s and 1970s, fiscal policy was characterized by the Keynesian consensus, a time during which modern American liberalism dominated economic policy virtually unchallenged. Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, laissez-faire ideology, as explained especially by Milton Friedman, has once more become a powerful force in American politics.  While the American welfare state expanded more than threefold after World War II, it has been at 20% of GDP since the late 1970s.  As of 2014, modern American liberalism, and modern American conservatism have been engaged in a continuous political battle.

How Are Political Parties Organized

American political parties are more loosely organized than those in other countries. The two major parties, in particular, have no formal organization at the national level that controls membership, activities, or policy positions, though some state affiliates do. Thus, for an American to say that he or she is a member of the Democratic or Republican party, is quite different from a Briton’s stating that he or she is a member of the Conservative or Labour party. In the United States, one can often become a “member” of a party, merely by stating that fact. In some U.S. states, a voter can register as a member of one or another party and/or vote in the primary election for one or the another party. Such participation does not restrict one’s choices in any way. It also does not give a person any particular rights or obligations within the party, other than possibly allowing that person to vote in that party’s primary elections. A person may choose to attend meetings of one local party committee one day and another party committee the next day. The sole factor that brings one “closer to the action” is the quantity and quality of participation in party activities and the ability to persuade others in attendance to give one responsibility.

Political PartiesParty identification becomes somewhat formalized when a person runs for partisan office. In most states, this means declaring oneself a candidate for the nomination of a particular party and intent to enter that party’s primary election for an office. A party committee may choose to endorse one or another of those who is seeking the nomination, but in the end the choice is up to those who choose to vote in the primary, and it is often difficult to tell who is going to do the voting.

The result is that American political parties have weak central organizations and little central ideology, except by consensus. A party really cannot prevent a person who disagrees with the majority of positions of the party or actively works against the party’s aims from claiming party membership, so long as the voters who choose to vote in the primary elections elect that person. Once in office, an elected official may change parties simply by declaring such intent. An elected official once in office may also act contradictory to many of his or her party’s positions or Rinos.

At the federal level, each of the two major parties has a national committee, The Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee that acts as the hub for much fund-raising and campaign activities, particularly in presidential campaigns. The exact composition of these committees is different for each party, but they are made up primarily of representatives from state parties and affiliated organizations, and others important to the party. National committees do not have the power to direct the activities of members of the party.

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Political Parties


Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence


U.S. Constitution

Federalist Papers

Federalist Papers

Bill of Rights

Bill Of Rights

Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg Address

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Both parties also have separate campaign committees which work to elect candidates at a specific level. The most significant of these are the Hill committees.  (The Hill committees are the common name for the political party committees that work to elect members of their own party to United States Congress (“Hill” refers to Capitol Hill, where the seat of Congress, the Capitol, is located).

State parties exist in all fifty states, though their structures differ according to state law, as well as party rules at both the national and the state level.

Despite these weak organizations, elections are still usually portrayed as national races between the political parties. In what is known as “presidential coattails”, candidates in presidential elections become the de facto leader of their respective party, and thus usually bring out supporters who in turn then vote for his party’s candidates for other offices.

What Are Political Pressure or Special Interest Groups?

PACsSpecial interest groups advocate the cause of their specific constituency. Business organizations will favor low corporate taxes and restrictions of the right to strike, whereas labor unions will support minimum wage legislation and protection for collective bargaining. Other private interest groups, such as churches and ethnic groups, are more concerned about broader issues of policy that can affect their organizations or their beliefs.

What Are Political Action Committees?

One type of private interest group that has grown in number and influence in recent years is the political action committee or PAC. These are independent groups, organized around a single issue or set of issues, which contribute money to political campaigns for U.S. Congress or the presidency. PACs are limited in the amounts they can contribute directly to candidates in federal elections. There are no restrictions, however, on the amounts PACs can spend independently to advocate a point of view or to urge the election of candidates to office. There are thousands of PAC’s working behind the scenes to get their candidate elected.

The amount of money spent by these special interests continues to grow, as campaigns become increasingly expensive. Many Americans have the feeling that these wealthy interests, whether corporations, unions or PACs, are so powerful that ordinary citizens can do little to counteract their influences.