Government, from the Latin word gubernare (“steer a ship/vessel”) is the active agency invested with power to manage a political unit, organization or more often a State. Its function is to ensure that everyone has a fair share of resources and goods while avoiding conflict and violence. It is an essential institution that provides peace and stability to society. It also provides services like schools, fire departments and mail delivery.
The proper role of government is limited to those spheres of activity within which the people have the right to act. It should provide the protection against bodily harm, theft and involuntary servitude. It should maintain armed forces and carry on intelligence activities to preserve the state against external threats, and it should prevent the entry of aliens who may be spies or terrorists, and it should embargo the export of materials that might aid a potential enemy.
In addition to these fundamental functions, governments must ensure that there is sufficient economic development and a social structure to provide the necessities of life for all citizens. They should provide basic education, food, shelter, and health care. They should also provide infrastructure for transportation, telecommunications and utilities. These are the major jobs that all societies must perform in order to survive and prosper.
Despite all of the tasks of a government, it cannot do them well without the help and cooperation of its people. They must be willing to obey the laws of the land and pay taxes to support the operations of their government. They should also respect the opinions and rights of other people, regardless of their background or social class. In order to do this, the citizens must form political parties, and these political parties will then compete with each other for the favor of the voters. This is what gives the people choice and makes democracy possible.
In a representative democracy, a small number of people out of the total population are elected to make laws for all of us. These are called legislators. They are usually members of political parties that have similar ideas and philosophies about what role the government should play in society. These political parties allow the people to select a leader who best represents their interests and values. This allows the majority to rule while ensuring that the rights of the minority are protected. These principles are known as checks and balances. This system keeps the government from getting too powerful and guarantees that the citizens have a say in their own destiny. Ideally, all of this is done in a way that is not racist or discriminatory. This is what is meant by the term “American democracy.”