Government makes the rules for how adults behave and protects citizens. Governments also provide goods and services, keep the peace, regulate the economy, and make sure the environment is protected. Governments do all of this through laws, policies, programs and funding initiatives. Governments also provide stability and security in the form of military service and police departments. Governments help provide education, healthcare and housing to citizens. Governments also manage natural resources to ensure that they can be used for generations to come.
The United States Constitution defines three branches of Government: the Legislative, Executive and Judicial. This structure, called the Trias politica, or separation of powers, was created by the Founding Fathers to insure that the Government would function well. In the United States, there are hundreds of Federal agencies and commissions that handle responsibilities from protecting America’s borders to managing its forests to making sure our food supply is safe.
Each branch of the Government has its own job to do and checks and balances with each other. The legislative branch is responsible for creating laws. The President in the Executive branch can veto laws passed by Congress, but the legislature can override his or her veto with enough votes. The judicial branch evaluates laws and makes sure that they are constitutional. The President nominates Supreme Court Justices and other judges and the Senate in the legislative branch confirms those nominations. Congress can also impeach Supreme Court Justices and other judges and remove them from office.
In the United States, most people have more contact with State and local governments than with the Federal Government. For example, most Americans interact with their State or local police departments and public libraries more frequently than with the Federal Government. State and local governments often have their own written constitutions, which can be much more elaborate than the U.S. Constitution.
Most Western democracies also allow their citizens to vote in elections. This gives citizens the opportunity to have a say in how their Government is run. In addition, most of the world’s nations have Governments that provide social services, such as education, health care and housing to their citizens. Governments are the largest employers worldwide and provide many important services to their citizens.
Governments are often formed by the party that wins the most seats in a national election. In some countries, such as the United Kingdom and France, the Prime Minister is appointed by the winning party. In other countries, such as the United States and most of the European Union, the President is elected by the Senate and House of Representatives. In both types of Government, the ruling party is often known as the Executive. This branch is responsible for developing and implementing policy, drafting laws and running the Government. Governments also employ many people to perform specific jobs in government ministries and regulatory agencies. In the United States, these employees include firefighters, police officers and teachers. Governments are large employers because they need to pay their employees for the work that they do.