Government is the body, entity or organization invested with the power to manage a country, state or other political unit. It is responsible for law and order, social welfare, defense and the economy. There are many different types of governments. Some of the more common include: a monarchy, an oligarchy, a democracy (direct or representative), communism and socialism.
Government creates laws and enforces those laws. It also provides services, such as education and health care. Governments also provide security and protection from other people who want to take what they have. In some cases, government regulates business and other activities to prevent unfair competition. This includes setting standards for things like the safety of food, toys, and automobiles. Governments also control access to natural resources such as water, timber and public lands. Without regulation, people would use them up so fast that there would be none left for others. Governments regulate access to these common goods to ensure that everyone can benefit from them.
A large portion of what government does involves managing money. It is responsible for the nation’s taxation system and budget. The budget provides funding for national programs. The taxation system allows citizens to pay for their share of the government’s costs. Governments are also responsible for regulating the financial markets and protecting consumers from fraud.
In the United States, the federal government consists of three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. Congress is the legislative branch. It drafts proposed laws, approves presidential nominations for the Supreme Court and other federal courts and carries out legislative acts. The executive branch includes the President and cabinet members. It is responsible for carrying out the laws approved by Congress and for defending the nation from foreign threats. The judicial branch evaluates the laws and oversees the executive and legislative branches.
The American people are divided on how big or small they think the government should be. About six-in-ten Democrats and Democratic leaners say the government should play a major role in most of the areas we asked about. There is less agreement among Republicans. Some Republicans, especially those who identify as conservative, say the government should not have a major role in nine of the areas we asked about.
The structure of the American government is designed to give citizens a variety of opportunities to influence policymaking through their votes and participation in civic life. This system is called separation of powers and checks and balances. The result is a slower process, but one that the Framers of the Constitution felt was important to protect citizens’ rights. It also makes it more difficult for the government to abuse its authority. The Constitution also guarantees citizens certain economic freedoms and establishes a Bill of Rights to protect their interests. This system of checks and balances is an example of good governance. It is important for governments around the world to have similar structures. Otherwise, the citizens of each country will end up with very different kinds of government.