The Basics of Government


Government is responsible for making laws and enforcing them, and for providing services that people need. It is also responsible for protecting goods that all may use but are in limited supply, like fish in the sea or clean drinking water. In addition, governments are in charge of taking care of people, and providing things like healthcare and education. Over time, though, governments have started to give some of these responsibilities to private companies.

The word “government” is derived from the Latin term gubernare, which means “to steer or govern” a country or organization. Different countries have different forms of government, and those governments are called political systems. There are many ways that these systems can be classified, and some of the more common ones include monarchy, oligarchy, democracy (direct or representative), capitalism, communism, and socialism.

A country’s government is made up of three branches that work together: the legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch. The legislative branch is primarily concerned with making laws. In the United States, this is done through Congress, which consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has 435 elected members, and the Senate has 100 senators, two per state. The President and Vice President are part of the executive branch, which is primarily responsible for carrying out the laws that Congress makes. The Supreme Court and other federal courts are part of the judicial branch, which is responsible for interpreting laws and determining their validity.

These three branches are intended to keep each other in check, so that a single person or faction does not gain too much power over the entire system. To do this, there are many rules that must be followed. One of the most important is mutual toleration, which means accepting your political opponents as legitimate, even if you strongly disagree with them. Another is forbearance, which is a commitment to limit how far you will go in using your power in politics to advance your own interests or those of your political party.

In addition to the checks and balances within the three branches of government, there are also checks and balances between the national, state, and local levels of government. This concept is best explained with our Levels of Government Ladder handout, which shows that each level cannot pass laws that conflict with those passed by the levels above it.

There are also restrictions on the amount of money that any one level of government can spend, so that it does not become too powerful and run out of control. Governments raise funds through taxes, fees, and loans from the public. Then, they disburse those funds through contracts with businesses or through social programs for the benefit of their constituents. This process is often very messy and inefficient, but it is essential to the survival of a democratic society. It is the only way that we can ensure that everyone is treated fairly.