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The US Political System

Joe Biden; US President

In diesem Artikel lernst du das politische System der USA kennen.

US system of government

Legislative Branch: Congress

US Capitol Congress

The law-making branch of the US-government consists of two chambers with equal power: the House of Representatives and the Senate.


  • 2 Senators from each state = 100 Senators

  • one third is elected bi-yearly for six years

House of Representatives

  • ca. 1 per 500,000 people ➡ the number per state depends on the population of that state

  • each representative serves a two-year term

Their power

  • control federal taxes and spending

  • control trade among states as well as between foreign countries

  • maintain armed forces, declare war and make peace

  • make laws

  • print money

  • impeachment

Executive Branch

Electoral College

This electoral system originated from times when infrastructure and means of communication were poor and most people did not know much about the presidential candidates. Therefore, a kind of representing role was introduced:

  • local people were chosen as responsible electors to represent the presidential candidates in their respective areas

  • citizens would then vote for the electors who would pass that vote on to the chosen candidate

  • each state has a number of electors

  • to this day, presidential candidates do not receive their votes directly but the one with the majority of votes in a state wins according to the "winner-takes-all" system

  • it is often criticised and seen as outdated because it does not fully reflect the popular vote

The President

The presidential elections take place every four years and the President Elect cannot serve more than two terms of office. As we have already learned, the President as well as the Vice President are elected through the Electoral College.

Role and functions:

  • Head of State

  • Chief Executive Officer

    • can appoint Cabinet members, federal employees and diplomats (which the Senate needs to confirm)

    • influence on foreign policy

    • influence on the economy through tax and budget proposals

    • proposes legislation to Congress and can veto laws

  • Commander-in-Chief of the US armed forces ➡ authorises him/her to control military strategies and actions

  • leader of their individual political party (to date, either the Democrats or the Republicans)

Judicial Branch

Supreme Court

Most important duties:

  • making decisions on whether actions of legislation or of the government go against the Constitution = judicial review ➡ making the Supreme Court the highest authority for decisions about many issues

More functions:

  • has complete authority over federal courts, which all have to follow the Supreme Court's decisions on federal laws and the Constitution (not allowed to rule on state law/state constitution)

  • has the final word on most legal and constitutional matters

  • create certain guidelines for lower courts

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