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6 us political system
6 us political system
6 us political system
6 us political system
6 us political system
6 us political system
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6 us political system


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  • 1. POLITICAL ISSUES THE US CONSTITUTION A constitution is a set of rules which explain how the government of a country works. The USA has a written constitution Amendments – this is the name given to any changes in the constitution The first 10 Amendments are known as the BILL OF RIGHTS: it lays out some of the rights and responsibilities US citizens have Many Americans are fiercely protective of the constitution and their rights. These rights have existed since the USA became an independent country. The constitution is the highest law in the land. People can take legal action if they feel there rights are being denied. Right What this means Responsibility Freedom of Speech Americans have the right to criticise their government if they disagree with its actions. They also have the responsibility not to slander (lie) or make sexist or racist remarks Right to Vote US citizens over the age of 18 can vote in elections if they are if they are registered They also have the responsibility to use their vote and accept whoever wins the election Right to Bear Arms Americans have the right to own and, in some states, carry a gun They also have the responsibility to keep the gun safely and only use it in selfdefence. Right of Assembly Americans can hold marches and demonstrations to show support or opposition for political issues They also have the responsibility to protest peacefully without violence and intimidation Example Many Americans criticise Obama’s decision to introduce healthcare for everyone However, some claim he does this because he is communist, which is a lie. There are over 1 million elected positions people in the US can vote for. However, the number of people voting in the US is only around 50-60% this is even lower when not voting for the president Many Americans safely use their guns for protection or join gun clubs. However, every year thousands of Americans are murdered by guns Many Americans peacefully protested outside the supreme court in support of gay marriage However, protest against the shooting of a unarmed black teenager in Florida turned violent
  • 2. Rights are very important, although the US constitution was written in 1776, the 21st century USA still sticks closely to it and the rights laid out in it have been the basis of US freedom for over 300 years. The constitution PROTECTS these rights and although they can be changed/altered or updated, it is very difficult to do so unless the Majority of Americans are seen to agree with it. Why its Americans should use their Rights: One of the most important rights is the right to vote – yet the number of people turning out to vote is quite low- around 60% in most elections – meaning 40% of people who are allowed (registered to vote don’t – we will look at the reasons why later) It is important to vote because:  You can choose who runs the country – which may influence if the US goes to war or not  It give minorities a say – if Black and Hispanics want to be better represented then they need to vote for people they feel would represent them  Not voting is a threat to democracy – if you don’t vote then the people in charge will be elected by only a small number of people that do vote  Voting helps to protect your interests – if you don’t vote some of your rights may be removed like the right to own/carry a gun. Activities Q1 – What is a constitution? Q2 – Why might some Americans be fiercely protective of their rights? Q3 – EXAM STYLE QUESTION “Americans have a number of responsibilities they are expected to follow” Describe, in detail, TWO RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of US citizens (NAT 4 = 4 marks, ONE Right and ONE Responsibility) (NAT 5 = 8 marks) Q4 –Why is it important that Americans use their right to vote?
  • 3. Government of the USA The constitution also outlines the system of government for the USA. The USA has a FEDERAL system of government. This means the government is split into 2 parts: Federal (National) Government = government for the whole USA I.e. Barack Obama State Government = each individual state has its own government I.e California has a government that decides state issues, and Florida has a different government that will decide issues for Florida. = ONE FEDERAL GOVT AND 50 STATE GOVTS Therefore state laws can be different from each other i.e. Texas uses the Death Penalty but California does not. Federal Government (Washington D.C/Barack Obama) Responsible for:  U.S. Military  U.S. Money  Postal Services  Relations with other countries  Federal Tax However FEDERAL laws apply in all 50 states. State Governments (Texas, Arizona, etc.) Responsible for:  Local laws – education, age of consent, speed limit  Punishment – use of death penalty  Provision of roads, etc.  Local taxes! Each of the 50 states has its own flag and governor
  • 4. The Federal Government of the USA The Federal government of the USA is split into Three Branches (or parts). Each part has its own role to play in the governing of the United States of America. The 3 Federal branches of Government are:  EXECUTIVE = The President (Barack Obama)  LEGISLATIVE = Congress (This is the US ‘parliament’)  JUDICIAL = The Supreme Court (a select group of very important Judges who safeguard the RIGHTS of Americans) The Executive Branch The Executive Branch is the name given to the Part of the Government that RUNS the country. This is mainly the President of the United States of America. The current President is Barak Obama he is the 44th President. Along with President Obama: the White House office and the people who the President chooses to help him run the government (Called his CABINET) are included in this part. In order to be President:      Elected once every 4 years Must be a citizen of the USA Must have lived in the USA for 14 years prior to the election Can only be elected for 2 consecutive terms of 4 years before standing down (8 years in total) Elected in a separate election
  • 5. The Legislative Branch This is the LAW making part of the USA government. Although, the President can suggest laws and has to sign a bill before it becomes a law: the actual passing/making laws happens in CONGRESS. Congress is the US ‘parliament’ where elected politicians decide on laws to help run the country. Congress has 2 parts  The Senate – people who are elected here are called SENATORS  The House of Representatives – people who are elected here are called CONGRESSMAN/CONGRESSWOMAN
  • 6. The Judicial The SUPREME COURT is the Highest Judicial Power in the land and consists of 9 judges. Its Main task is to overlook the political system to see that all laws operate in the interests of the American people and not harm their rights and freedoms. It can “throw out” any measures contrary to the American Constitution. EVEN if the President and Congress want to introduce them It is very important and is sometimes seen as the ‘guardian’ of the constitutions In recent years it has rules on important issues like:  Healthcare  Immigration  Same sex marriage It also has the power to decide on disputes between states. Activities Q1 – What is meant by a Federal system of Government? Q2 – Make a spider diagram from both Federal government and state government, showing the areas they have power over. Q3 – For EACH of the 3 branches of the Federal – write a paragraph describing what each area does. Q4 – Note down the powers of the President of the USA