The Constitution of the United States designates three main
structures of government. The judiciary is charged with the country's
legal system, interpreting and upholding the country's laws. The
legislature, composed of the Lower House and the Senate, is composed of
representatives who write the laws of the country. Finally, the executive
branch runs the country's administrative needs.
In the United States, the executive branch is headed by a president,
who is elected directly by the American people. These elections are held
separately from the elections for representatives in Congress.
Furthermore, while the president is not vested with any direct legislative
power by the Constitution, he or she may veto any laws that have been
passed in Congress. This system of separate elections dates back to the
presidential elections in 1789 (Brinkley A30).
It is through this electoral period that the American government
pursues a common "general will" of its constituents. In contrast to direct
democracies such as Switzerland, where people vote in national referendums,
the American people elect Congressional representatives and the President
in two separate elections. This separation helps to maintain the system of
checks and balances that prevents abuse on the part of either the executive
government or the legislature.
The United States legislature is composed of two bodies â€“ the Lower
House and the Senate. The Lower House or House of Representatives is
composed of 435 members, who represent the various districts around the
United States. Because the number of representatives depends on
population, California has the greatest number of state delegates with 53
members. Sparsely populated states like Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming have
only one representative each.
The House of Representatives is divided into separate committees,
where much of the debate takes ...