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"Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people. " - Henry Clay
The character of being responsible to the people; being answerable to others.
An elected legislative body of a country.
A set of laws and guidelines laid out for the proper governing of a country.
House of Representatives
One of the two houses of Congress found in a Presidential government.
A body of elected officials that is empowered to make laws for a country.
To surpass a veto.
Government with a Prime Minister and two houses of Parliament elected by the people.
A government headed by a president, with two houses of Congress elected by the people.
A country whose government is controlled by the elected representatives of the population.
Rejection of a bill passed by the legislature.
Within the democracies of the world, two of the most popular forms of government are the presidential and the parliamentary systems. Although there are significant differences in some parts of the overall framework, the basic foundation of accountability to the people is evident in both. The next two lessons will compare the two different types of governments.
A presidential system is used in different forms in different nations across the world. Obviously, the United States uses the presidential form of government. Other countries, including Mexico, France and some republics in South America use varied forms of the presidential government. Since the forms of this type of government may vary, we will look specifically at the United States' system.
Within America's presidential government, the president is elected to a term of four years. The president has the power to appoint high officials to federal office. Even though the Congress may pass a law, the president has certain veto powers to override the passage of the law. For example, if Congress decided that the national speed limit should be 80 miles per hour, they would vote it into a proposed law which would then go to the president's desk. If he felt that this law was wrong, he has the power to veto the bill before it becomes a law.
The upper house of the U.S. Congress is called the Senate. Each state has two senators. Senators are elected to six-year terms. Every two years, one-third of the Senate's seats are up for election or reelection. A senator must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and a resident of the state from which he or she is elected. The lower house of the U.S. Congress is called the House of Representatives. Population size determines the number of seats that each state receives in the House of Representatives. Members of the House of Representatives are elected every two years. A member of the House of Representatives must be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and a resident of the state that he or she represents.
Congress is another part of the presidential government. Congress is also known as the Legislature, and consists of two houses - the Senate and the House of Representatives. The members within both houses serve for a fixed term.
The Legislature has the power to pass laws and to override presidential vetoes. Let's go back to the story about the 80 miles per hour law. If the president vetoes the bill, it can be sent back to Congress. If Congress wants the 80 miles per hour law passed, they can try to get a two-thirds majority of those present to vote to approve the vetoed bill and it will become a law despite the veto. The United States has built its government on four elements:
popular sovereignty, meaning that the people are the ultimate source of the government's authority
checks and balances
federalism, an arrangement where powers are shared by different levels of government.
Congress also shares control over the military with the president (which guarantees civilian control of the military). Congress has the authority to declare war and provide funding for soldiers and weapons, but the president serves as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
The Supreme Court is an integral part of our country's presidential government. It is the highest court in the land and its members are appointed by the president. The Senate, however, gives final approval for the candidates of the Supreme Court to be admitted. Once a candidate is approved, he or she will keep the appointment for life or until retirement. The Supreme Court may review certain laws of the country and decide whether they are within the guidelines set forth by the Constitution. The Supreme Court even has the right to decide whether certain actions of a high official or even the president himself are either unconstitutional or against the law.
The overriding veto power of Congress and the Supreme Court's power are two ways that the government provides a system of checks and balances.
In a presidential government such as America's, the people elect the president and the members of Congress. The president is elected separately from the members of Congress. His authority is fairly great under this system of government, but he must cooperate with the Congress, or he may see a lack of support for some of his plans and goals. The powers of the United States presidential government are defined in the U.S. Constitution. The president is to be accessible to the people of America by way of communication at all times; the public has the right to express their feelings and concerns to the White House. Anyone may contact the White House! The address is:
The President The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, D.C. 20500-0001
The White House phone number is: (202) 456-1111
The E-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
"That is the best government which desires to make the people happy, and knows how to make them happy." - Thomas B. Macaulay
In the last section we looked at the presidential form of government. In this lesson we will look at another widely used form of government called the parliamentary government. A number of nations use the parliamentary form of government, including Australia, Canada, and Great Britain. Since there are different forms of parliamentary government in use, we will look specifically at the British system of government.
Local geographic boundaries within which the citizen votes.
The people of the country voting for the members of the House of Commons.
House of Commons
Oversees law and tax legislation; the more powerful of the two houses of Parliament.
House of Lords
Contains the High Court. Also called the "upper house"; composed of the lords temporal and spiritual.
The charging of a public official of a crime or misdeed before a judging body of officials.
System of courts and the upholding of the laws of the land.
Largest percentage of the whole body which, by vote, controls the direction of legislation.
Palace of Westminster
Meeting site of both Houses of the British Parliament.
The leader of the majority party in the House of Commons.
Supremacy of rule; higher authority.
The legislature in Great Britain is called the Parliament . Where the American Congress has two houses called the House and the Senate, the Parliament has two houses which are called the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Elections for those in these houses may occur at any time, not just on a fixed basis. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet of top officials are controlled directly by the Parliament. The rest of the government's ministers, the cabinet, may be selected from either house. Thus, the executive branch is, in effect, a committee of the legislature. Elections must be held every five years; the Prime Minister may call elections earlier, although no more frequently than once a year. If the party in power fails to obtain a parliamentary majority on an important issue, it must call a general election. The major parties in Parliament are Conservative, Labour, and the coalition of Social Democrats and Liberals.
The top leader is known as the Prime Minister . The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons and is elected on a different basis than the United States president. While America's president is elected every four years, the Prime Minister holds office for either as long as Parliament supports him, or for up to five years. A general election is held every five years, but if an issue arises which may bring a vote against the Prime Minister, the vote may be at any time. The Prime Minister is directly answerable to the Parliament and must work closely with its members.
The judiciary system of Great Britain has some vast differences from the Supreme Court of the United States. The High Court in Britain consists of members of the House of Lords who may not judge the constitutionality of any law in the land whereas in America, the Supreme Court judges the constitutionality of the laws that come before it. Unlike the U.S. Congress which has the power to override a veto from the President, no British court may have an overriding power over the Prime Minister or the Parliament. In the House of Lords, like the Supreme Court, the members may stay for life or until retirement.
The people of Great Britain elect the officials who will be going to the House of Commons. The 651 members of the House of Commons members are called members of Parliament and are voting members of the legislative branch of government. The members are voted in from same-sized districts throughout England. Statutes, laws and taxes are under the power of the Parliament. Cabinet members, including the Prime Minister, are members of one house or the other and are collectively responsible to the House of Commons.
Both Houses of Parliament are situated at the Palace of Westminster, a royal palace containing nearly 1,200 rooms. Formerly the residence of kings, the palace was turned over to Parliamentary use in 1965 for the function of both Houses. Over 100 staircases and 2 miles (3 kilometers) of passageways are contained within the palace. Within the palace area is the historic building known as Westminster Hall, which is known for hosting major public ceremonial events.
The House of Lords is not as powerful as the House of Commons. The main function of the House of Lords is to review and examine bills that are passed by the House of Commons. While the House of Lords will amend bills from the House of Commons, it rarely changes a bill drastically. It can delay a bill but has no power to veto a bill that has been approved by the House of Commons.
The House of Lords has a different type of membership than that of the House of Commons. While the House of Commons has members that are voted upon by their districts, the House of Lords has hereditary peers who received their membership by inheritance, going back a number of generations. There are also members who are called "life peers" who have a lifelong seat in the House of Lords, given to them through an honored achievement they have accomplished. A third group is known as "lords spiritual"; they are senior officers from the Church of England. The "law lords" make up the fourth group. Law lords are selected high-ranking magistrates from around the country, who hear final legal appeals, much like the American Supreme Court.
Britain's legislature is often referred to as the "Mother of Parliaments" because of its influence on the parliaments of other countries. Parliament began in medieval times as a body of noble and ecclesiastical advisers to the monarch. The Curia Regis, or great council, evolved into the House of Lords. The Fourteenth century Parliament split into two houses and started gaining more control over laws and taxes. In 1376 it created impeachment and even presided over the abdications of Edward II and Richard II during that century.
Parliament gained significant power under Henry VIII in the 1500's. The House of Commons grew in strength, helped by the overthrow and execution of Charles I and in 1688-89 by the English Revolution, which set the foundation for parliamentary sovereignty. In the 19th century the House of Commons moved away from the monarchy and became democratic. The Great Reform Bill of 1832 opened the door for the common person to get involved in politics; the bill gave the vote to the middle class for the first time. The following decades saw more freedoms in voting, including the creation of equal electoral districts in 1885.
GOVERNMENT – UNIT 1 INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTS
ONE-PARTY AND MULTI-PARTY GOVERNMENTS
"Communism is the corruption of a dream of justice." -Adlai Stevenson
The "kitchen debate" occurred in July of 1959 in Moscow. While attending the opening of the American National Exhibition, American vice-president Richard Nixon unexpectedly found Russian Premier Khruschev standing in front of the kitchen exhibit of an up-to-date model American home. Khruschev scoffed at the exhibit and announced to a group of western reporters that the USSR's powerful party system would help his country surpass America technologically. "When we pass you," he said, "we will wave to you." However, Nixon did not want to let the statement go unchallenged, and lightly berated Khruschev for trying to appear as a know-it-all.
Khruschev, openly proud of his one-party system known as communism, retorted, "If I don't know anything, you don't know anything about communism; only fear of it." He began to mock the American appliances on display. Pointing to the toasters, can-openers, and dishwashers, he claimed they were proof of "the capitalist attitude toward women." He continued his dialogue by openly stating that American workers couldn't afford such luxuries anyway. It was then that he was left without a reply when Nixon then jabbed a finger into Khruschev's chest and told him that practically any American worker could buy one right now. The "kitchen debate" continued during Nixon's entire visit to Moscow, but time has proven his point. Years later, we can see the proof of then-Vice-President Nixon's words: a one-party system like communism can't give the freedom for individuals to grow and prosper.
It is interesting to note that in that very same year--1959--Fidel Castro took control of Cuba and has run a dictatorship to this day. Many reports come out of that country, telling of the lack of freedoms and civil rights which people in the American republic enjoy.
Action taken to strengthen or weaken a political ideal.
An appallingly wicked act.
A supreme ruler with absolute power; usually a demanding and harsh ruler.
Institutional Revolutionary Party
Ruling political party in Mexico from 1929 to 2000.
Communist party of Viet Nam conflict.
A smaller party with not as much political clout or election support.
A governmental course of action.
One-party systems, political structures where there is no opposition to the party in charge, do not allow for political activism from the common man. The people of the country rarely give input and in most cases, elections are strictly controlled. One-party systems are often associated with dictatorships, whether they are "good" or "bad." Most dictatorships allow only one party, which totally controls the government. Some dictatorships permit other parties, but only so long as they create no serious threat to the government. Often when a serious political threat of victory appears, the subordinate party ceases to exist. The potential for abuse is much larger than in a democracy, since in a one-party system there is more power in fewer hands. With less accountability to citizens, there is a strong possibility of less concern for the needs of the people.
In a communist country, the Communist Party forms the government, such as the Khmer Rouge government of Cambodia during the Viet Nam conflict. No other party is allowed to exist under any circumstances. Membership in the Communist Party is considered a privilege and is granted only after a person meets certain standards. Even from youth, organizations are formed so that the children of the communist country may learn the doctrines of the party. In the days when the Soviet Union was considered a world power there was a one-party system in those countries. History tells us that although the Communist Party was the powerful and dominant solo political party in the U.S.S.R., only about 6 percent of the Russian people belonged to the party. Even though the populace may not actively support it, through military control where "might makes right," a one-party system can nevertheless remain strong.
The Communist Party performs many more functions than political parties in democracies. For this reason, it has an elaborate organization for recruiting members and leaders, developing policy, indoctrinating the people, and maintaining discipline. A dictatorship, since it is run by virtually one person alone, does not need as elaborate an organization. The dangers of both a dictatorship and a Communist party rule is that abuses can be swift and powerful. The past atrocities (torture and murders) of Uganda's Idi Amin provide sufficient evidence of a one-person government gone bad.
Communist nations and most other one-party dictatorships do have elections. The elections are held chiefly to generate interest and enthusiasm for the Communist party. In China, for example, the candidates tell the people how wonderful the party is and what the party has done for them. The party leaders explain what the party has done and plans to do and what it expects of the people.
Some democracies also have a one-party system. For example, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, known as the PRI) controlled Mexican politics from 1929 to 2000. It won all the state and national elections by huge majorities. During its 71 years in power, there were many accusations of corruption and rigged elections. Mexico has several smaller political parties, but none of these parties were able to compete effectively.
In the 1990s, economic problems and political opposition weakened the PRI. The PRI was forced to govern by reaching agreements with many of the smaller parties and coming to a compromise in many decisions. In 1997, the PRI lost its majority in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Mexico's Congress. The PRI continued to hold the presidency and a majority in the Senate.
The 2000 elections marked a turning point in Mexican politics. The PRI lost its majority in the Senate, and the the National Action Party (Partido Accion Nacional, known as the PAN) won a huge victory over the PRI, electing a former corporate executive, Vicente Fox, as president. During his campaign, Fox promised Mexicans full democracy after decades of one-party rule by the PRI.
Multiparty political systems are found in many countries that have parliamentary governments. Countries with multiple parties include Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, and Sri Lanka. Most multiparty countries have four or five major parties and, in addition to these, there may be many minority parties. In most cases, each of these political parties has particular economic or social goals. Multiparty systems vary from country to country. Most multiparty systems consist of a few left-wing parties, which hold liberal or radical views, some center parties, which have moderate views, and a few right-wing parties, which support conservative views. In multiparty countries, one party seldom wins enough seats in the legislature to form a majority. Therefore, two or more of the parties will join forces and form a coalition government to direct the nation's affairs. Often the coalition parties fail to agree on policies and programs because of the differences in their political beliefs; therefore, the government ultimately falls.
In the United States, the system of government is considered a two-party system; even though there are many minority parties, the two majority parties maintain control. The checks and balances of each party against each other is fairly even; the one party will win some legislative gains, and then the other will. The multiparty system is not as simplified as that. The multiparty system tends to produce a less stable government than does the two-party system.
GOVERNMENT – UNIT 1 INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTS
AQUINAS, ARISTOTLE, AND ENGELS
"What the statesman is most anxious to produce is a certain moral character in his fellow citizens, namely a disposition to virtue and the performance of virtuous actions." - Aristotle
ARISTOTLE, AQUINAS AND ENGELS: SOME OF THE "ARCHITECTS OF GOVERNMENT."
There are many leaders who, through the ages, have had a marked influence on the design of governments throughout the world. In this section we will look at three of those leaders of thought. We need to be familiar with the thinking and writings of the influential leaders through the ages--ones who helped shape the philosophy and formation of government.The first three men we will study will be the philosopher Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the German social scientist Friedrich Engels.
Working in a unified intellectual effort on a joint project.
Human thought and lifestyle within a certain time period or place.
Book written by Karl Marx promoting the working class uprising. A text for Marxism and Communism.
Instructions and guidelines for life believed to have been delivered by God.
A system of moral values and good conduct.
At the time of the Middle Ages. (A.D. 500-1500 approx.)
One who tries to create radical change in government and existing political, social, or business structure.
The study of religion.
Aristotle is considered to have been one of the greatest and most influential thinkers of all Greek philosophers. His teachings had a powerful effect on the Western culture for ages to come. Born in Greece in 384 B.C., Aristotle was considered brilliant from childhood. He attended the philosophical school of Plato and at one point in his life he supervised the early education of Alexander the Great.
His political works include Nichomachean Ethics and Politics, in which he proposed that citizens should be given the right to happiness and to pursue their dreams and goals. He believed that when any person is given the liberty to pursue his purpose in life, he will achieve a great happiness and fulfillment. Aristotle called this fulfillment finding one's "function," what one can do best. For example, a kite's function is to fly and a bow's function is to shoot arrows. Aristotle argued that if a person were given a reasonable chance to follow and achieve his function, he would be truly happy.
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/aristotle.htmlClick here to get more Web information about the life of Aristotle.
Thomas Aquinas was born in Italy around 1225 and is considered to be one of the greatestmedieval philosophers. After attending the University of Naples and entering the priesthood, he studied philosophy and theology and began writing. Although Aquinas is best known for two of his theological writings, he also wrote about the nature and role of government, especially in On Kingship.
Aquinas' writings on government boldly stated the government's responsibility to its citizens. He wrote that it was the requirement of the government to serve people and help them to live rightly.He thought this was more than just a good idea; the governments had a moral responsibility to be obedient to divine laws. Aquinas believed that no law could justifiably contradict God's teaching on virtue. Aquinas felt strongly about human rights such as life, education, and freedom of religion.
Friedrich Engels was a radical thinker and is best known for his contributions to the Marxist theories of government. Engels was born in Prussia in 1820 to a fairly well-to-do family, but established himself as a revolutionary. He was so involved in revolutionary work that he was forced to flee Prussia in 1844. His writings include The Condition of the Working Class in England, but it was his collaboration with Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto which gave him fame. Engels also helped edit Marx's Das Kapital.
Engels' writings told of the need for the common worker to arise and resist the powers of leadership, especially of the business owners. Engels promoted the idea that the working class should revolt if necessary to get the rights and benefits he felt they deserved. His writings were revered by many revolutionaries in countries where oppression was evident. Ironically, his writings inspired some of the most oppressive governments within the last century, including the former Soviet Union.
COMMUNIST MANIFESTO: TEN NECESSARY STEPS IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE COMMUNISM
In 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The Communist Manifesto." Marxism's basic theme is that the proletariat (the working class) will rise up against the "bourgeoisie" (the middle class) and overthrow "capitalism." After a brief period of rule by "the dictatorship of the proletariat" a classless society of communism would emerge. In his Manifesto, Marx described the following ten steps as necessary steps to be taken to destroy a free enterprise society:
Abolition of private land property; application of all rents of land for the public purposes, not private
A heavy progressive or graduated in-come tax
Abolition of all rights of inheritance
Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels
Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank
Centralization of the means of communications and transportation by the government
Farms and factories are owned by the State
Government control of labor
Corporate farming and regional planning of farming systems
Government control of education. No more private educationential thinkers of all Greek philosophers. His teachings had a powerful effect on the Western culture for ages to come. Born in Greece in 384 B.C., Aristotle was considered brilliant from childhood. He attended the philosophical school of Plato and at one point in his life he supervised the early education of Alexander the Great.
Friedrich Engels was a radical thinker and is best known for his contributions to the Marxist theories of government. Engels was born in Prussia in 1820 to a fairly well-to-do family, but established hi