Government is the set of rules that adults make and use to run their societies. These rules cover everything from traffic laws to social security and immigration. Governments also enforce them, and judge any conflicts between different rules. Governments are typically organized into three different branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.
The United States is a constitutional republic, meaning that its laws are made by the people through representatives elected to city councils, state legislatures, and Congress. Those lawmakers choose the laws they wish to pass, and decide how much tax revenue to raise. This money is used to fund services like education, police and fire departments, and road maintenance. Governments also protect common goods such as clean water, wildlife, and public lands.
Most governments have a political party system, where members of the same party are associated with each other and coordinate activities around running for office and voting on issues. Those who are affiliated with the same party usually form coalitions to support and endorse each other in elections, and to make laws together. Those same parties help people find jobs in government, and organize lobbying to make sure their interests are represented at the state and federal level.
A definition of government from the Cambridge Dictionary:
The existence of an organized entity that possesses authority, provides services and functions, or bears accountability that is of a governmental nature. Governments must also have substantial autonomy, meaning that they have significant discretion in the management of their affairs, but are still subject to any supervision by another governing body.
In the United States, the national government, called the federal government, has a lot of power, but most of that is split among local, county, and state governments. Local government makes the rules for cities and towns, and oversees things like schools and parks. State government handles state-level laws and policies, such as immigration and regulating interstate commerce. State and federal governments also share certain powers, including the ability to collect taxes and mint money.
Many different types of governments exist, but the most common are those that are democratic. A democracy is a form of government in which a few people out of everyone are elected to make laws for all. In the United States, this is known as a representative democracy because the group of people that elects the national government, the United States Congress, is composed of representatives and senators who are directly elected by the people.
Congress has the power to enact legislation, confirm or reject presidential appointments to the Cabinet and other government offices, and to declare war. It also has a few agencies and offices that provide support services to the legislative branch. The executive branch carries out and enforces laws, and includes the president, vice president, 15 departments, and independent agencies. The judicial branch checks the constitutionality of laws, and includes the Supreme Court and other federal courts.