The American political system is federal, it is based on the principle of sovereignty of each state within a union of all.
Federalism means that:
- powers like foreign policy, national defence, citizenship and finance, belong to the Federal Government;
- powers such as education, welfare, health care, transport, police belong to each single State Government;
- other powers (levying taxes and building roads) are shared by both federal government and state government.
Within each states there are counties, townships, cities and villages. Each with its own elected Local Government which provides local services.
It has been written in 1787 by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and officially adopted by the 13 states which formed the country in 1790.
It's the oldest written constitution still in use.
It'i the supreme law of the United States of America.
It consists of:
- the preamble: is a brief introductiory statement of the Constitution's fundamental purposes and guiding principles.
- the seven articles divide government into three separate branches: the legislative branche (bicameral Congress), the executive branch ( led by the President) and the judicial branch (headed by the Supreme Court). They specify the powers and duties of each branch declaring that no institution is dominant.
- the first 10 amendments (1791) - Bill of Rights: guarantee the specific rights of the individual (freedom of religion, of speech, of the press and of assembly, right to personal liberty, of any person charged with breaking the law to have a speedy public trial with a jury of fellow citizens , to possess and carry arms, protection against excessive or cruel punishment).
- other amendments: the abolition of slavery (1865); the prohibition of denial of rights because of race (1870); women's suffrage (1920); suffrage for 18 year-olds (1971).
The American Constitution is called "a living document" because amendments can be added to adapt to changing situations.
The presidential elections
The requirements to be the President of USA are: natural birth in the United state territory, 14 years lived in the country and 35 years old man/women.
He is elected by the citizens, and his power ends after 4 years unless he gets a re-election and he takes other 4 years of power, but after 2 elections he is out.
Presidential candidates are chosen by their political parties in the month before the general elections, the people choose the elector who will vote for one or other of the presidential candidates (electoral college). Each state has a number of votes in proportion to the population.
To be president a candidate must obtain 270 votes at least. The US president cannot be removed from office before his term, unless particularly case.
The Democratic Party was established in 1972. It' s a central left party. Usually they receive support by the working class , african americans and etnic minorities. There are voted especially in the big cities , particularly in the industrial states in north-east and mid-West and the Pacific coast states.
In the 1930s D. President F. D. Roosevelt created the New Deal: a plan to help the poor and to support the economy.
In the 1960s D. President J. F. Kennedy supported the civil rights movement for blacks Americans.
In 2010 D. President B. Obama signed a Bill which improved the health care and extended health insurance.
The Repubblic Party was created in 1854. It is a conservative centre right party Repubblic favour low taxation and polities and promote private business. They support strong military defence and they are against abortion and gay rights. It receives the support with most successful in the West and in the South.
In the 1980s R. President R. Regan reduced taxation and cut many social programmes.