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The Branches of Government

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The basis of our government was realized by Lord Acton, a British historian when he wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He knew that if any one person or group ran a country, they would soon become power crazed and lose the respect and support of its citizens. This is the reason why our forefathers came up with a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one group could control the entire government. Lord Acton was not the first to believe in a separated government. Philosophers dating back to Aristotle favored a government that contained the elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. John Locke later wrote that the best way to eliminate corruption in government was to separate the powers of the legislative and executive branches. Montesquieu added the powers of the judiciary branch to complete what we now call “separation of powers”. Our forefathers only had to refine the philosopher’s ideas to come up with our present system of government. Basically they wrote that the executive branch enforces the laws, the legislative branch passes the laws, and the judiciary branch interprets the laws.
The president runs the executive branch. The president has many powers including the right to veto a bill. If Congress passes a bill, the president can veto it and unless each house has a two-thirds vote to override the veto, the bill never becomes a law. Over the history of our government, presidents have vetoed over 2,500 acts of Congress and been overridden over 100 times. The president can also call Congress into a special session if they do not act upon proposed legislation by the president. Since the president is head of a political party he can easily influence Congress into legislation. The president can appeal directly to the public in order to influence Congress. Presidents also have a unique power to pardon people who have been convicted of federal crimes. Another task of our president is to begin the process of appointing all federal judges and other officers of the government, such as his cabinet, ambassadors, ministers, and consuls. Before these positions can be appointed Congress also has to approve each of the officers who were elected by the president. All Supreme Court Judges have been elected by the president then approved by Congress before being appointed. The relationships of the United States and other foreign countries are mostly determined by the president He has the power to decide whether to recognize new nations and governments, and in turn to negotiate treaties with them.
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