cover image

Politics of the United States

Political system of the United States of America / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dear Wikiwand AI, let's keep it short, summarize this topic like I'm... Ten years old or a College student

The politics of the United States function within a framework of a constitutional federal republic and presidential system, with three distinct branches that share powers. These are: the U.S. Congress which forms the legislative branch, a bicameral legislative body comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate; the executive branch which is headed by the president of the United States, who serves as country's head of state and government; and the judicial branch, composed of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, and which exercises judicial power.

Quick facts: Politics of the United States, Polity type, C...
Politics of the United States
Polity typeFederal presidential constitutional republic
ConstitutionUnited States Constitution
FormationMarch 4, 1789; 233 years ago (1789-03-04)
Legislative branch
Meeting placeCapitol
Upper house
Presiding officerKamala Harris, Vice President & President of the Senate
AppointerDirect Election
Lower house
NameHouse of Representatives
Presiding officerKevin McCarthy, Speaker of the House of Representatives
AppointerFirst-past-the-post voting
Executive branch
Head of State and Government
CurrentlyJoe Biden
AppointerElectoral College
NameCabinet of the United States
Current cabinetCabinet of Joe Biden
Deputy leaderVice President
HeadquartersWhite House
Judicial branch
NameFederal judiciary of the United States
CourtsCourts of the United States
Supreme Court
Chief judgeJohn Roberts
SeatSupreme Court Building

Each of the 50 individual state governments has the power to make laws within its jurisdiction that are not granted to the federal government nor denied to the states in the U.S. Constitution. Each state also has a constitution following the pattern of the federal constitution but differing in details. Each have three branches: an executive branch headed by a governor, a legislative body, and judicial branch. At the local level, governments are found in (counties or county-equivalents, and beneath them individual municipalities, townships, school districts, and special districts).

Officials are popularly elected at the federal, state and local levels, with the major exception being the President, who is instead elected indirectly by the people through the Electoral College. U.S. politics is dominated by two-parties, which since the American Civil War have been the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, although other parties have run candidates. Since the mid-20th Century, the Democratic Party has generally supported left-of-center policies, while the Republican Party has generally supported right-of-center ones. Both parties have no formal central organization at the national level that controls membership, elected officials or political policies; thus each party has traditionally had factions and individuals that deviated from party positions.

Almost all public officials in America are elected from single-member districts and win office by winning a plurality of votes cast (i.e. more than any other candidate, but not necessarily a majority). Suffrage is nearly universal for citizens 18 years of age and older.

Ongoing concerns include lack of representation in the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia; fear that the interests of some are overrepresented, while others are underrepresented; a fear that certain features of the American political system make it less democratic, a fear that a small cultural elite has undermined traditional values, and whether policy and law-making is dominated by a small economic elite molding it to their interests. Greater representation given to small states in the Senate and the Electoral College, "first-past-the-post" voting, gerrymandering, etc.—have in recent years had a more extreme effect and have begun to create a disconnect between what the government does (in legislation and court rulings) and what the majority of Americans want.[1]

The Economist Intelligence Unit rated United States a "flawed democracy" in 2022.[2] (... and has for the last six years.)[3]