System of Government in the USA

The USA is a federal union of 50 states. Its basic law is the Constitution, adopted in 1787, which prescribes the structure of national government & lists its right & fields of authority.

Besides, each state has its government. Thus, all government in America has the dual character of both Federal & State Government. The basic principle of all American government is the separation of the 3 branches: legislative (the US congress), executive (headed by the President) and judicial (headed by the Supreme Court).

Each branch of government holds a certain degree of power over the others, and all take parts in the governmental process.

Although the American system of government is based on Grate Britain’s, it differs in having a written constitution that is the basis of all government and law.

The Constitution of the USA was adopted after the War of Independence on September 17, 1787. It lists the set of rules, laws regulations which provide the practical norms regulating the work of the government. The document embodied the political theories of the Founding Father, who represented the interest of a privileged class, as the great majority of those who formulated the Constitution, were men of property.

The main principle underlying the Constitution was as follows: private property is the backbone of liberty. It was put forward by a rich plantation owner from Virginia, James Medison, who is know to be the «Father of the Constitution» precisely for this reason.

The Constitution is based on 3 main principles.

The first one guarantees basic rights – freedom of speech and religion. The 2nd principle tells about a government by the people. The 3rd principle tells about the three branches of the US government, legislative, executive and judicial, that have different powers.

The Constitution consists of the Preamble and 7 articles. 27 amendments have so far been added to its original text.

The first 10 amendments, know as the Bill of Rights, where added in a group in 1791, as a result of growing popular demands. These amendments establish the individual rights and freedoms to all people of the states, including freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of worship, the right of the peaceful assembly, the right to bear arms etc.

Some of the amendments are now relatively unimportant, but the 5th Amendment retains its significance. It provides «no person shell be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law», and no person «shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself».

All the amendments adopted by the Congress become an integral part of the Constitution. Mention should be made of some of them. The 13th amendment abolished slavery.

The 14th and 15th adopted in 1863 and 1870 defined citizenship and gave the vote to all mail citizens, regardless of race, colour or previous condition of servitude.

The 19th gave the vote to women and was adopted in 1920. The 22 amendment (1951) makes it impossible for any President to hold office for more than 2 terms. The 26th amendment was adopted in 1971, it lowered the voting age to 18 years.

Preamble

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. ”

The Articles of the Constitution.

Article I The Congress has many powers. It can decide taxes and make laws about citizenship and about foreign trade. If the U.S. fights with another country, Congress can declare war.

Article II the President Has Other Powers. He or she is the Commander – in – Chief of the military. The President can choose people to be judges on the Supreme Court, he can choose people to be ambassadors. But the Senate must say okay to these people.

Article III The judicial branch has certain powers. The courts can review some laws. If the laws do not agree with the Constitution, the courts can tell Congress to change the laws. The courts listen to the problems about protecting the Constitution rights if the people.

Article IV. States have a republican form of government. States can make some laws. All states must respect the laws of other states.

Article V. The-fourths of the states must say okay to an amendment.

Article VI. The Constitution is the supreme law of the U.S. Everyone must follow the Constitution.

Article VII. Three-fourth of the states must say okay to this Constitution.

Within the Executive branch, there are 14 executive departments. These are: the Department of State, Treasury (міністерство фінансів), Defense, Justice (юстиції), Interior, Agriculture, Commerce (торгівлі), Labor, Health and Human services (охорони здоров’я і соц. забезпечення), Housing and Urban Development (житлового буд-ва і міського розвитку), Transportation, Education, Energy and Veteran Affairs, Each department is established by law and is responsible for a specific area. The heads of the departments are Cabinet members, they are appointed by President (however, must be approved by the Senate).

When the President’s service ends, it is customary for the Cabinet to resign, so the new President can appoint new chiefs of executive departments.

The State Department ranks ahead of other departments in prestige and authority. The political power of the Secretary of State is second only to that of the President. The Secretary of State has the duty of trying to maintain peace and to negotiate economic and political treaties.

In addition to Secretaries, President has an inner Cabinet, the so-called “White House Office”. It is the name given to the President’s immediate assistants and various advisers on the different aspects of home and foreign policy.

The powers given to each branch of the government are carefully balanced by the powers of the other two. Each branch serves as a check on the others. Congress has the power to make laws, but the President may veto any act of Congress. Congress, in turn, can override a veto by a two-thirds vote in each house. Congress can also refuse to provide funds requested by the president. The president can appoint important officials of his administration, but they must be approved by the Senate. The President also has the power to name all federal judges; they, too, must be approved by the senate. The courts have the power to determinate the constitutionality of all acts of congress and of Presidential actions, and to strike down those they find unconstitutional.

The Legislative branch is the Congress, which consist of the Senate and the House of Representative’s. The main function of the legislative branch is to make laws. The congress can make laws about trade, taxes, citizenship and about the District of Columbia. It can maintain army, Navy and Air Force, declare war, establish U. S. Post Office, print and borrow money. The Congress cannot take away the right to a trial, give title of nobility, put a tax on exports, use tax money without authorization. It cannot make laws about marriage, driver’s, licenses, police, etc. (These are done by the states).

There are 435 representatives in the house. A Representative must be at least 25, a U.S. citizen for seven years, and live in the state from which he is elected. There is usually one representative for about 580,000 people in a state. However, all states must have least one representative in the House. States with many representatives have more power in the House then states with only a few representatives. California, which has the larges population, has the greatest number of representatives.

There are 100 members in the Senate, two from each state. Senators must be at least 30 years old, he must live in state and be a U.S. citizen for not less than 9 years. Senators are elected for a term of six years. Their specials duties are: to ratify /approve treaties, to confirm appointments, to try impeached officials. Only the House of President can impeach officials. Only Senate can try the officials. The Senate decides if the official can stay in office.

Although Congressional elections take place every two years, only one-third of the senate in re-elected, thereby ensuring continuity.

The individual seats in the Senate are numbered. Democrats sit in the western part of the chamber – on Vice – President’s right. Republicans sit on the left. Vice-President presides over the Senate and he conducts debates. The Senate is stabler and more conservative than the House, as many Senators are re-elected several times and often they are more experienced politicians.

Congressmen of the house of Representatives. do not have individual seats, by tradition democrats sit on the Speaker’s right, Republicans – on his left. The speaker presides over the House, he conducts debates. The Speaker, like Vice-President, may vote, but usually he does not do it, except in case of tie-vote.

Salary: House of Representatives – 57,500$ a year

Senate – 57,500$ a year

The executive branch includes the President, Vice-President and the Cabinet consisting “of 14 Secretaries of the executive department. “Administration” is a popular term to identify the executive branch of the federal government, responsible for administering and executing laws. The president is elected every 4 years to a 4-years of office, with no more than two full terms allowed (since the 22 Amendment in 1951). He must be a natural-burn citizen of the USA, at least 35 years old, and for at least 14 years a resident of the USA. The term of office of the President begins at noon on January 20.

The president is the head of the state and the government, and the C.-in-C. of the armed forces. He makes foreign police, approved or vetoes laws, appoint judges, advisors and ambassadors; he can pardon a person for a federal crime (give amnesty).

If the President dies, or resigns or can’t work, the Vice-President becomes President.

The Judicial branch of the federal government includes the Supreme Court if the US and the system of federal courts. The Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and 8 associate justices, holding office for life. It has the responsibility of judging the constitutionality of acts of law (whether laws agree with the Const.).

Besides the US Supreme Court (which is the highest tribunal in the US) there are various district courts and federal courts of appeals. They have somewhat less political importance, since their principal duty is to settle cases where no constitutional question is at stake. These courts handle both civil and criminal cases. Each state has at least one district court.

Courts of appeals were created in 1891 to facilitate the disposition of cases; they stand immediately below the Supreme Court. Only the Supreme Court reviews the decisions of the appeals court.

The Court of Claims consisting of a chief justice and 4 associate justices was established in 1855. This court hears claims of private individuals against the government for breach of contracts, unpaid salary, property taken for public use and personal injuries.

The Major. Political Parties.

The US began as a one-party political system.

The popularity of G. Washington, who wanted the country to stay one-party political system and the good effects of the Constitution on trade prevented the organization if opposing parties until the end of Washington ‘s second term. Then the question of who should be the new President began to divide the people into political organizations. On one side were the Federalists, representing business, finance and the middle classes of city folk. On the other side were the “Republicans” led by Thomas Jefferson. They represented mainly the country folk from Virginia.

The present day Democratic Party was founded in 1828, representing Southern planters – slave owners and part of Northern bourgeoisie. The Republican party was founded in 1854. It united industrial and trade bourgeoisie from North – East, farmers, workers, craftsmen who were interested in destroying the political power of the South.

The parties chose their own names, Republican and Democratic, but not their party emblems. The cartoonists Thomas Nast invented the Republican elephant and Democratic donkey in the early 1870s, and they soon became fixed types.

The differences between the two parties are small. Outsiders often complain that they find difficult to distinguish between the two major political parties, which appear to support such similar policies. How does a person choose sides in the game of party politics? The first and perhaps the most important determinant is family tradition. Most voters take the party of their parents. National origin plays a role, too. Descendants if northern Europeans tend to the Republican party while those of southern and eastern Europeans prefer the Democratic party.

Economic position is sometimes important. Recently there has been an increasing tendency for the well-to-do to vote Republican and for the less fortunate to vote Democratic.

RELIGION IN THE USA

In matters of religion the US has always been one of the most pluralistic of nations. This is the country, where the first immigrants came with the aim of escaping religious prosecution in their own countries. Organizing their own societies, they interacted with representatives of probably all the word’s denominations. Thus, from earliest times religion has offered strength and solace to American’s of many faiths. It has also been a factor in shaping the nation’s history. The lack of a national religion has resulted in religious freedom which was recognized in the Bill of Rights attacked to the original Constitution.

People in the USA are free to choose their religion in practice, this was true for much of the population but not for Native Americans where legislation for lade their choice of religion and mandates Christianity.

The percentage of American going to Church (or temple or mosque) at least once a weak is significantly higher than is almost all Europe countries. The major religions in the US are: Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Eastern Orthodoxy, Jewish, Muslim.

The major Protestant denominations are: Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Church of Christ, Congregational. The majority of the population belongs to one of the 1,000 of Protestant, Churches. Nearly a quarter of the present population are Catholics and there are also about 6 millions Jews.

The thing that strikes one in America is that whenever you feel an urge to play, the door of the church of whatever denomination it represent is always open and waits for you. Another thing is that every church sponsors different actives like choir concert, organ and piano concert, charity fairs, of various kinds; one-day festivals to focus on children or invalids, parties and get-together for young people and so on church and state are separated. The government has always encouraged religion. The Congress, f.e. has an official chaplain who opens its sessions with a player. The motto “In God we trust” is printed on American coins.

Church is separated from school, but many ministers and preachers nowadays are worried about the decline in church members among teenagers and young people. In many parts of the country, occultism, astrology, witchcraft and even devil-work are going influence among the youth.

LANGUAGE

The USA has no official language, but English is used de facto national. Spanish is the second language and it is estimated that around 20% of Americans speak Spanish as their first language .

American English or U.S. English is the diverse form of the English language used mostly in the USA. According to the 2004 censes, more then two-thirds of native speakers of English use the American dialect, although most for whom English is a second language around the world prefer Anglo-English.

The English language in America has been influenced by American Indian languages and by all the ethnic groups that have emigrated to the US over the years.

The tem “americanism” was first used by John Witherspoon, president of Princeton University, in 1781. It designates a) any word or combination of words which, taken into the English language in the US, has not gained acceptance in England, or if accepted, has retained its sense of foreignness; and b) any word or combination of words which, becoming archaic in England, has continued in good usage in the US.

The first class is the larger and has longer history. The earliest settlers in Virginia and New England, confronted by plants and animals that were unfamiliar to them, either borrowed the Indian names or invented names of their own. Examples are: raccoon , chinkapin (карликовий каштан), opossum (опосум, сумчастий щур), squash (гарбуз, кабачок), woodchuck (сурок лісовий), among Indian words and bullfrog (бик жаба), canvas-back (жирок), catbird (дрізд американський), live oak (дуб віргінський) among inventions. Many other words came in as the pioneers gained familiarity with the Indian life. Such words as hominy, pone (кукурудзяний корж), tapioca (крупи з крохмалю), remain everyday Americanism.

The archaisms showed more slowly. They had to go out of use in England before their survival in America was Noticeable.

“I guess” was already an Americanism by the end of 18th century, though it had been in almost universal use in England in Shakespeare’s day.

One of the best examples is “fall” – autumn. The word was used by Shakespeare, but since his time practically all speakers of Britain English have used the word “autumn”.

American English borrowed words from the non-English setters, and developed many new words of its own.

The American variety of English has borrowed many words from the vocabulary of the French, Dutch, Spanish and German-Speaking settlers.

The French following are a member of words pertaining to exploration and travel, or descriptive features of the landscape.

The most productive one of the latter is “prairie” which can be found in more than 80 combinations in Webster (prairie-chicken (степовий тетерук), prairie – dog (степовий собака), prairie-wolf (койот).

The Spanish colonial occupation of North American territory is reflected, through the words, “ranch”, “rodeo”, cafeteria, lasso. Among the widely used words of Dutch origin are “Yankee”, “boss”, “cookie”, “Santa Claus”. The words of German origin are: “semester”, “seminar”. “Hippie” is probably African in origin.

The native coinages were large in number: back wood (глушина, необжите місце) half-breed (метис), hired-girl (робітниця на фермі), spelling bee (конкурс на кращий правопис), moss-back (житель півдня, що ховався від служби в армії під час громадянської війни), stamping – ground (місце водопою, пасовисько; американською – місце, яке часто відвідують).

A number of important words, in daily use, began to show meanings in England and America. Some familiar examples are store, rock, lumber, corn.

Some Americanism were easily accepted in BE: commuter, trailer, know-how, milk shake, baby-sit, congressman, Secretary of State.

The chief differences between the British Received Pronunciation and a variety of American English are the pronunciation of certain vowels, in stress, accent, intonation.

AE more extensively uses the suffix wise in the meaning of “with regard to” or “in terms of” (instructionwise, taxwise, pricewise, weatherwise). also popular is the prefix super (superhighway, superweapon). Compound words: mastermind - геній, gangland – злочинний світ, trigger-happy – агресивно налаштований, forming nouns with the help of verbs followed by adverbs: walk-up – будинок без ліфту, shut-out – перемога з сухим рахунком.

Numerous are examples when the ranges of meanings of the same word in both variants differ (e.g. AE “gun” means not only “cannon” and “rifle” but also “pistol” and “revolver”).

The meaning of pie in BE is narrower, it implies the meaning “meat pie” if not proceeded by some specifications as in “apple pie”.

There are numerous cases of different phrases with verb-adverb combinations (AE to fill out a blank, BE – to fill in a form, AE to be filled up (about a hotel), BE: to be fill up; AE wash up: BE: wash your hands) as well as divergences in phrase structure (e.g. AE go get it: BE go and get it). The most famous of all American dictionary-makers, Noah Webster was as influential in the history of American English as G. Washington in the American Revolution. From his “Dissertations on the English language” in 1789 to his great monument of 1828, an American Dictionary of the English Language (referred to simply as “Webster’s”), his work is a real landmark in American history.

Webster’s influence on American spelling was enormous. It is to him that Americans owe “color”, “fiber”, “tire” etc. Webster’s dictionaries had a great influence on American speech rhythms, and resulted in the remarkable uniformity of much American speech.

HIGHER EDUCATION

About 12 million students currently attend schools of higher education in the USA. The USA leads all industrial nations in the proportion of its high men and women who receive higher education.

Americans place high value on higher education. A middle – income family with two children must take loans for up to 120.000$ go that their son and daughter can attend private university for four years.

Parents low – income family take jobs to support their children at a state university – each at an annual cost of 4.000$.

Out of the more than 3 mln. students who graduate from high school each year, about 1 mln. Go on for “higher education”.

A college at a leading university might receive applications from 2% of these high school graduates, 2 then accept only one out of every 10 who apply. Successful applicants at such colleges, are usually chosen on the basis of their high school records, recommendations from their high school teaches, the impression they make during interviews. At the university, 2 their scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) перевірка здатності з метою визначення доцільності відповідного курсу навчання. There is no national system of higher education in the US. Instead there are about 3.000 separate institutions ranging from two-year “junior” (community) colleges and technical institutes to university.

Students have to pay to go to both private and state universities. Every person who enters a high education institution can get financial assistance. If a student borrows money from special funds, he should repay it with interest after he finishes his education. Needy students are awarded grants which they do not have to repay.

Scholarships are given when a student is doing exceptionally well at school. Some students take part-time jobs.

The universities with the highest reputation are: California University, Catholic University of America, Cornell University, Harvard University, John Hopkins University, Columbia University, Stanford University, Chicago University, Wisconsin University, Yale University. The best known of all is Harvard University, Massachusetts which was founded in 1636.

The American system of education differs somewhat from the system of other countries. It has certain peculiarities of its own which are closely connected with the specific condition of life in the New World and the history of American Society. There are free, state-supported, public schools which the majority of American children attend. There are also a number of private elementary and secondary school where a fee is charged for admission and children are accepted or rejected on the basis of an examination.

Most public schools are coeducational, that is, girls and boys study together, but a lot of church-supported schools are for boys and girls only. Under the US Constitution the federal government has no power to make laws in the field of education. This education remains primarily a function of the states. Each state has a Board of Education (usually 3 to 9 members elected by the public or appointed by governor), not subject to federal control. State laws determine the age of compulsory education, the length of the school years, the way in which teacher shall be certified and many of the courses which must be taught.

Education is compulsory for every child from the age of 6 up to the age of 16 except in Maine, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania where it is compulsory to the age of 17 and in Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah where children must go to school until the age of 18.

Elementary (primary) and high school are organized on one of two bases: 8 years of primary school and 4 years of high school, or six year of primary, three – of junior high school and 3 – of senior high school.

Elementary school children in the US learn much the same things as do children of the same age in other aunties. The program of studies includes English (reading, writing, spelling, grammar, composition), arithmetic (sometimes elementary algebra or plane geometry in upper grades), geography, history of the USA, and elementary natural science. Physical training, music, drawing are also taught. Some schools teach a modern language, such as French, Spanish, German.


LECTURE 4


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