1. The political set-up in general The American political system is a constitutional democracy. According to the Constitution, the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative branch, the executi ve branch and the judicial branch. 1) The legislative power belongs to the Congress. It makes laws and controls finances (foreign and domestic spending). 2) The executive branch is headed by the President, who proposes bills (законопроекты) to the Congress, enforces (вводит в действие) federal laws, controls foreign policy, serves as Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces, as well as makes treaties and appoints (назначает) secretaries (ministers).
3) The judicial branch consists of Federal District Courts, 11 Federal Courts and the Supreme Court. Federal courts decide cases involving federal law, and conﬂicts between citizens of different states. The Supreme Court interprets constitution, tests laws and may rule a law to be unconstitutional. In principle, these three branches are independent and maintain a balance of power. In practice, they sometimes come into conﬂict. The work of the national or federal government is also distributed among various departments (мниистерства), such as the Department of State, Defense, Labour, Interior, Energy and Education. There are two main political parties in the US, the Republican Party (the Elephant) and the Democratic Party (the Donkey). The Republicans are more conservative and have more support among the upper classes. The Democrats are more liberal and have more support among the working classes.
2. The structure of the US government According to the Constitution, the federal US government is divided into three branches: the legislative branch, the executi ve branch and the judicial branch. The legislative branch 1) The legislative power belongs to the Congress, which makes laws and controls finances (foreign and domestic spending). The Congress consists of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives (or simply the House). There are 435 members in the House and 100 senators in the Senate. Each U.S. state is represented in the House in proportion to its population. Each state also elects two members every two years to the Senate. The main power (полномочие) of the House is to pass federal legislation that affects the entire country. However, its bills, before becoming law, must also be passed by the Senate and further agreed to by the U.S. President. The House has several exclusive powers, including the power to impeach (смещать) officials. The executive branch
2) The executive branch is headed by the President, who proposes bills to the Congress, enforces federal laws, controls foreign policy, serves as Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces and, with the approval of the Senate, makes treaties ([трИтис] договоры) and appoints (назначает) secretaries (ministers). President can veto (наложить вето) a bill, but the Congress can overrule (отменить) a veto if two- thirds of the congressmen vote against it. The President is chosen in nation-wide elections every 4 years together with the Vice-President. Since 1951, a US president can only serve two terms. The Vice-President, elected from the same political party as the President, acts as Chairman of the Senate, and takes President’s office if President is unable to finish his term. There are 14 departments of the executive branch. The heads of these departments, called secretaries, make up the cabinet, the body that advises President. There are also 140 executive agencies like NASA, Envoronmental Protection Agency, and others. The judicial branch
3) The judicial branch is made up of many Federal District Courts, 11 Federal Courts, and the Supreme Court. Nine Federal judges are appointed by the President for life. Federal courts decide cases involving federal law, and conﬂicts between citizens of different states. The Supreme Court interprets constitution, tests laws and may rule a law to be unconstitutional. No veto is possible.
3. Local Government Local government in the United States is governmental structures below the level of the state. Most states have at least two levels of local government: counties (округа) and municipalities (муниципалитеты). In some states, counties are divided into townships («тауншипы», районы). At the municipal level, there are several different types of jurisdictions, including the city, town, borough ([бОро] городок), and village. The types and nature of these municipal objects varies from state to state. Many rural areas and even some suburban areas in many states have no municipal government below the county level. In other places unified city–county jurisdictions exist, in which city and county functions are managed by a single municipal government. In some New England states, towns are the primary unit of local government and counties have no governmental function. In addition to general purpose local governments, there may be local or regional special-purpose local governments, such as school districts (школьные округа) and districts for fire protection (пожарные округа), sanitary sewer service (служба канализации), public transportation, public libraries, or water resource management. Such special purpose districts often cover areas of multiple municipalities. In 2012, there were about 89 000 local governments in the United States.
4. The President and the Cabinet President of the US us the chief executive officer (главное должностное лицо) of the federal government, leader of the executive branch, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The President is chosen in nation-wide elections every 4 years together with the Vice-President. Since 1951, a US president can only serve two terms. The president has the power to make treaties with other nations. However, two thirds of the Senate members must support a treaty to allow it to be made. The president also appoints, with Senate consent (согласия сената), diplomatic representatives, Supreme Court Judges, and many other officials. The president selects people for White House staff, but only offers the heads of departments and agencies, who then must be approved by the Senate.
The president and vice-president are the only government officials in the US elected by and representing the entire nation. The president is the most powerful and important officeholder in the country. The president has no vote in the Congress, but is the source of most bills that become law. As the principal foreign policy maker (главный разработчик внешней политики), the President of the US has become the world’s most important leader in international affairs (международных делах). There are 14 departments (министерства) in the US government. They include the Department of State (госдеп), Defense, Labour, Interior (внутренних дел), Energy, Education, and others. The heads of these departments, called secretaries, make up the cabinet, the body that advises President on matters of policy and government administration.
5. The US Constitution. The Bill of Rights. The Constitution of the United States is the system of fundamental laws of the US. The Constitution was prepared by 55 delegates of the Constitutional Convention (конституционного съезда) in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787. It was approved by the states in 1788. The Constitution defines the powers of the Congress, the president, and the federal courts. This division of authority is known as a system of checks and balances. It ensures that none of the branches of government can dominate the others. The Constitution also establishes and limits the authority of the federal government over the states and lists freedoms and liberties for U.S. citizens.
The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The Bill of Rights establishes basic American civil liberties that the government cannot violate. The states approved the Bill of Rights in 1791, three years after the Constitution was ratified («ратифицирована», синоним approved). The Constitution of the United States gave the federal government much more power compared to the earlier Articles of Confederation. Because of this, several states demanded a list of amendments to guarantee individual rights that cannot be violated by the federal government. The amendments protect such rights as freedom of speech (First Amendment), right against unlawful search and seizure ([сИже], арест) (Fourth Amendment), and the right to a public criminal trial by jury (право на публичный уголовный суд присяжных) (Sixth Amendment).
6. Electoral System and Electoral Rights The United States government officials are elected at the federal (national), state and local levels. The electoral rights of an individual are set in the constitution. The constitution states that the right to vote cannot be denied on grounds of race or color, sex or age for citizens eighteen years or older. In addition, state laws regulate the right to vote. For example, some states ban convicted criminals (отбывшие заключение) from voting. Congressional elections
Elections to Congress take place every two years. The 100 members of the Senate are elected for a six-year term (срок). There are two members from each state in the Senate. One-third of the Senate is renewed every two years. The House of Representatives has 435 members. They are elected for a two-year term. House elections occur every two years, simultaneously with presidential elections or in the middle of a President’s term. Each U.S. state is represented in the House in proportion to its population. Presidential elections
The President and the Vice President are elected together. The Presidential election is indirect (непрямые). The winner is determined by the Electoral College (коллегией выборщиков) through the voting of “electors” (выборщиков). They, in turn, are chosen by voting in each state. The winner of the election is the candidate with at least 270 Electoral College votes. It is possible for a candidate to win the electoral vote, but lose the (nationwide) popular vote.
7. Political Parties in the USA Through most of its history, American politics have been dominated by a two-party system. Several third parties also exist in the U.S., and from time to time they elect someone to local office (локальные правительства). The largest third party since the 1980s is the Libertarian Party. Democratic Party is one of the two main political parties of the United States. Its origins can be traced to the coalition formed around Thomas Jefferson in the 1790s. It resisted the policies of George Washington’s administration. This coalition was originally called the Republican, and later the Democratic-Republican Party.
Later, a portion of it became the Democratic Party. Republican Party is the other one of the two major US parties. It was founded in 1854. The early Republicans were united in their opposition to extending slavery into the Western territories. In 1860, their candidate, Abraham Lincoln, was elected to the presidency. The Southern states reacted by separating from the Union, and the the Civil War (1861-1865) began. The Republican Party is also called the Elephant, and the Democratic Party is called the Donkey. The Republicans are more conservative and have more support among the upper classes. The Democrats are more liberal and have more support among the working classes.