How does the US work?

I’d like a short and concise description of the way the US political system works. Presidents, Secretarys, Congressmen and Senators. Where and how do they fity in.

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

“fity” of course being the new hip street word for “fit”, originating from the nickname of the hiphop artist “50 cents”, which was pronounced “fithy”. He’s exceptionally well trained and in good shape so… it’s a long story. Anyway, it’s not just a stupid typo that should teach me to read what I post before I post it.

First, read the Constitution of the United States of America. That will tell you where everybody except for “secretaries” fit in.

Here’s a copy of the complete Constitution:

Cabinet “Secretaries” are actually merely “Presidential advisors” and only act as his “deputies”. That is, they merely have some measure of Presidential authority, but only so long as the President permits it. Cabinet members are nominated by the President but must be approved by the Senate.

Look where 90% of American’s learned everything they know about government: America Rock. :slight_smile:

Federal Govt.
3 branches

  1. Judicial made up of judges selected by the executive and approved by the legislative. Life time appointment
  2. Legislative. 2 Chambers, the House of Representatives (each state gets a number based on population) and the Senate (each state get an equal number 2 I think).
  3. Executive. The President and his appointed Secretaries of State, Interior, etc.

Now a bill is introduced in the Legislature and must pass both chambers and get a Presidents approval. Should the president reject the bill (Veto) the bill must then be passed again with 2/3 majority.

Each state is set up somewhat similarly.

Note, I just get a lot of American TV so I might be off a bit.

Grey got it in one. But I’d also really recommend a quick read of the Constitution. It’s refreshingly short and brief, suprisingly.

There are a couple of good sites that can give you a 101 on US Government, but try this one as a starter:

Project Vote Smart

and their information on the Judicial Branch

Happy reading.


Most laws in the United States are made by the state legislatures, not by Congress. Everything from marriage laws, public education, motor vehicle laws, to criminal laws and penalties, are decided by the individual states.

Honestly and truly, start with the US Constitution.

Compared to the 15 page draft European Constitution it’s an eye opener.

Thanks Grey.

(I’m not thanking Dogface because the constitution does not meet the required “short and consise” parameter. :wink:

But it does actually. The thing is remarkably short, concise and, so far to date, effective.

The U.S. Constitution is short and concise; you can read the whole document in about a half hour or less.

Oh, as to Congressmen. Congress is the term for the bicameral legislature. The House and Senate together = Congress. So a Congressman/woman can be a Representative (HOUSE) or Senator (SENATE).

Yes, Grey, “congressman” technically may refer to either a senator or a representative. But in common practice, senators are never referred to as “congressmen.”

What happened to the policy of not doing people’s homework for them?

This IS a forum for asking questions… right?

Stoneburg, I can well understand your confusion in regards to the working of the U.S. government. Especially since the replies so far deal only with the external trappings of the system that give the appearance of due process of law but don’t really control what goes on.

I will herewith give you the inside story:

All those congressmen, judges, secretaries and so forth are really chosen and elected behind the scenes by an international cartel based in the U.S., which chooses to arrange public affairs for its own benefit.

I refer, of course, to the Disney corporation. Now do you understand why our government is often referred to as a Mickey Mouse operation and why our current President has such prominent ears?

Any other questions?

Compare it with the EU constitution. The US Constitution is both short and concise.

OK, seriously.

One of the key items to keep in mind as you look at the operation of the various parts of the government of the U.S. is that each of the 50 states such as New York, Illinois, California, Hawaii, etc., is considered to an almost-sovereign nation in its own right. Each state makes its own laws, elects its own government, pays its own expenses, etc. except where the national, federal government has decided to overrule state prerogatives (based on rules contained in the Constitution that everyone keeps asking you to read).

The federal government controls (mostly) international diplomacy, interstate trade and disputes and several other things…but each state has its own military arm (called militias), raises revenue through taxes, and so on through a long, long list.

This makes everything in the U.S. governmental system vastly more complicated and inefficient. But then, many Americans like the fact that their government is inefficient; it’s safer that way. :slight_smile: