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The political system of the USA.
The United States of America is the greatest capitalist country in the
world. The USA is the President republic. It means that the president is
the head of the country. The President is elected for four years, together
with the Vice-President, chosen for the same term. He cannot be younger
than 35 years old and he must have lived in the USA for at least 14 years,
and be a civilian. He must do his job according to the Constitution. The
President cannot serve more than two terms.
The legislative branch of the US Government, or the Congress,
represents all of the American states. The Congress was created by Article
I of the constitution, adopted in 1787. It consists of two parts: the House
of Representatives and the Senate.
The Senate made up of 100 members (2 from each state), elected for a
term of 6 years. One third of the Senate is elected every 2 years. To be
elected a Senator, a person must be a least 30 years old and have been a
citizen of the USA for at least 9 years.
The House of Representatives comprises representatives from each
state, elected for a two-years term. The number of representatives from
each state depends on its population, but every state is represented. To be
elected a representative, a person must be at least 25 years of age and
have been a citizen of the country for at least 7 years.
In general, Senators are better known than Representatives because
they are fewer in number and serve for a longer time. Many American
Presidents served in Congress before they became President. Presidents John
Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon were all Representatives and
then senators before becoming President of the United States.
The presiding officer of the Senate is the Vice-President of the USA.
The presiding officer of the House of Representatives, the Speaker, is
elected by the house. The work of preparing and considering laws is done by
the committees of both Houses. There are 15 standing committees in the
Senate and 19 in the House of Representatives.
The job of the Congress is to make laws. The President can veto a
bill. The Congress can pass the law anyway if it gets a two-thirds majority
vote. The Congress can also declare the war. The House of Representatives
can also impeach the President. This means that the House can charge the
President which a crime. In this case, the Senate will put the President on
trail. The Senate votes to approve the justices that the President appoints
to Supreme Court. The Congress assembles at least once a year.
The executive branch of the government puts the country’s laws into
effect. It consists of the president, the Vice-President and the Cabinet.
The President is the head of the executive branch of the government; he
appoints the members of the Cabinet. When the president receives a bill
from the Congress, he must sign it, and then the bill becomes a law. The
Cabinet advises the President on many matters and is composed of the heads
of ten executive departments: Secretary of Senate, Secretary of Treasury,
Secretary of Defence and others.
The judicial branch of the government is the system of courts in the
United States. Its job is to enforce laws. The Supreme Court is the highest
court in the country. It consists of 9 justices: one Chief Justice and 8
associate justices. The President appoints the justices, but the Senate
must approve them. The justices are appointed for life. The Supreme Court
makes sure people obey the laws. The Supreme Court can also decide if a law
is constitutional, that is, if it is in agreement with the Constitution.
The judicial branch works together with the legislative and executive
branches to protect the Constitution and the rights of people.
There are two main bourgeois political parties in the USA. They are
the Democratic Party (was organized in the 1820s) and the Republican Party
(was organized in the 1850s). They defend monopoly capital. The only party
that defends the interests of the working people is the Communist Party. It
was formed in 1919 in Chicago. The Communist Party struggles for better way
of life for the working people and it fights for the interests of Negroes
and coloured people, against all kinds of discrimination. The Communist
Party stands for peaceful coexistence with the socialist countries.
The basis of the American republic.
The Constitution of the United States is the central instrument of
American government and the supreme law of the land. For 200 years, it has
guided the evolution of governmental institutions freedom, economic growth
and social progress.
The American Constitution is the world’s oldest written constitution
in force, one that has served as the model for a number of other
constitutions around the world. The Constitution owes its staying power to
its simplicity and flexibility. Originally designed to provide a framework
for governing four million people in 13 very different colonies along the
Atlantic coast, its basic provisions were so soundly conceived that, with
only 26 amendments, it now serves the needs of more than 240 million people
in 50 even more diverse states that stretch from the Atlantic to the
The path of the Constitution was neither straight nor easy. A draft
document emerged in 1787, but only after intense debate and six years of
experience with an earlier federal union. The 13 British colonies, strung
out along the eastern seaboard of what is now the United States, declared
their independence from England in 1776. A year before, war had broken out
between the colonies and Great Britain, a war for independence that lasted
for six bitter years. While still at war, the colonies — now calling
themselves the United States of America — drafted a compact, which bound
them together as a nation. The compact, designated the “Articles of
Confederation and Perpetual Union”, was adopted by a Congress of the states
in 1777, and formally signed in July 1778. The Articles became binding when
they were ratified by the 13th state, Maryland, in March 1781.
It was under these inauspicious circumstances that the Constitution of
the United States was drawn up. In February 1787, the Continental Congress,
the legislative body of the republic, issued a call for the states to send
delegates to Philadelphia to revise the Articles. The Constitutional, or
Federal, Convention convened on May 25, 1787, in Independence Hall, where
the Declaration of Independence had been adopted 11 years earlier on July
4, 1776. Although the delegates had been authorized only to amend the
Articles of Confederation, they pushed the Articles aside and proceeded to
construct a charter for a wholly new, more centralized form of government.
The new document, the Constitution, was completed September 17, 1787, and
was officially adopted March 4, 1789.
The 55 delegates who drafted the Constitution included most of the
outstanding leaders, of Founding Fathers, of the new nation. They
represented a wide range of interests, backgrounds and stations in life.
All agreed, however, on the central objectives expressed in the preamble to
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the
common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of
liberty to ourselves and our posterity, to ordain and establish this
Constitution for the United States of America.
The Bill of Rights.
The Constitution has been amended 26 times since 1789, and it is
likely to be further revised in the future. The most sweeping changes were
made within two years of its adoption. In that period, the first 10
amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, were added. They were
approved as a block by the Congress in September 1789, and ratified by 11
states by the end of 1791.
Much of the initial resistance to the Constitution came not from those
opposed to strengthening the federal union, but from statesmen who felt
that the rights of individuals must be specifically spelled out. One of
these was George Mason, author of the Declaration of Rights of Virginia,
which was a forerunner of the Bill of Rights. As a delegate to the
Constitutional Convention, Mason refused to sign the document because he
felt individual rights were not sufficiently protected. Indeed, Mason’s
opposition nearly blocked ratification of Virginia. As noted earlier,
Massachusetts, because of similar feelings, conditioned its ratification on
the addition of specific guarantees of individual rights. By the time the
First Congress convened, sentiment for adoption of such amendments was
nearly unanimous, and the Congress lost little time in drafting them.
These amendments remain intact today, as they were written two
centuries ago. The first guaranties freedom of worship, speech and press,
the right of peaceful assembly, and the right of petition the government to
corrects wrongs. The second guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms.
The third provides that troops may not be quartered in private home without
the owner’s consent. The fourth guards against unreasonable searches,
arrests and seizures of property.
The next four amendments deal with the system of justice: The fifth
forbids trial for a major crime expect after indictment by a grand jury. It
prohibits repeated trails for the same offence; forbids punishment without
due process of law and provides that an accused person may not be compelled
to testify against himself. The sixth guarantees a speedy public testify
for criminal offences. It requires trial by an unbiased jury, guarantees
the rights to legal counsel for the accused, and provides that witnesses
shall be completed to attend the trial and testify in the presence of the
accused. The seventh assures trial by jury in civil cases involving
anything valued at more than 20 U.S. dollars. The eighth forbids excessive
bail or fines, and cruel or unusual punishment.
The last two of the 10 amendments contain very broad statements of
constitutional authority: The ninth declares that the listing if individual
rights is not meant to be comprehensive; that the people have other rights
not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. The 10th provides that
powers not delegated by the Constitution to the federal government nor
prohibited by it to the states are reserved to the states or the people.
State and local government.
Each of the fifty states of the USA has a constitution patterned after
the national Constitution, with its three divisions of power: legislative,
executive and judicial. The head of each state is the governor, elected
for four or two years. The office of the governor is one of considerable
prestige and political power and has been steadily growing in influence.
The governor is assisted by Secretaries. The state legislatures consist of
two houses (except Nebraska, which has a single-chamber legislature,) and
they collect taxes, elect their officers, approve state government
officials, and pass state laws. No state, however, may pass a law contrary
to the Constitution or the United States’ laws and treaties.
Each state creates of local government. The chief unit of local
government is the county, of which there are more than 3000. The counties
maintain public order through the sheriff and his deputies; in many states
the counties maintain the smaller local highways. The sheriff is the chief
law enforcement officer of the county. He is also officer of the court,
serves papers, enforces orders, maintains the jail, and collects taxes,
with particular functions varying from state to state. The sheriff’s deputy
is appointed by the sheriff. He assists the sheriff in law enforcement, and
in some states may act in place of a sheriff. He is usually paid in fees.
Most large cities have an elected mayor as head of the local government and
an elected council to help him. Some smaller cities have a commission form
of the government. Five men are elected to take care of the city’s services
and its money problems.
The mayor-council system is the most popular kind of local government
and the city manager type is the second most popular. In this kind if
government an elected council hires a professional city manager to
administer and watch over the city’s business. The elected council keeps
the legislative power.
The Congress of the United States is composed of two houses, the
Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate represents the states
and the House represents the population according to its distribution among
the states. Each state is guaranteed at least one representative in the
House. The remainder are apportioned among the states according the
population. There is now, roughly, one representative for every 380000
people, but no two congressional districts have exactly the same
The Senate of the United States is composed of one hundred members,
two being elected from each state. Senators are chosen for six years, one-
third retiring or seeking re-election every two years. Two senators from
the same state never finish their terms at the same time, one of them
called “Senior Senator” and the other — “Junior Senator”. Theoretically all
citizens of both sexes over 21 years of age have the right to vote, but in
fact this is not so.
An estimate of the number of American legally barred from voting by
the residence laws based on 1960 Census figures on population mobility,
indicates that 5.4 million, or five per cent of adult Americans were unable
to vote in 1960 because the residence requirements in some states the
payment of taxes (called “poll-taxes”) is necessary for getting the right
to vote. In some southern states voters are required to give a reasonable
explanation of what they read. In some states the ability to read (usually
an extract from the Constitution) is required. In Alabama the voter must
take an “anti-Communist oath” and fill in a questionnaire to the
satisfaction of the registers. As a result of this millions of people are
deprived the right to vote. At the same time it is well known that
Americans are less disposed to exercise their right to vote than just about
any other nation. The percentage of voters in the potential electorate (the
adult citizenry) is about sixty-five per cent. One of reasons for
nonvoting, is the two-party system. In the United States there are two
major bourgeois political parties, the Democratic and the Republican (also
called G.O.P. — “the Grand Old Party”). Both of them represent the
interests of monopoly capitalists and there is no clear-curt difference
between the two parties, between their policies and their party machines,
but there is a difference between their bosses and their rank and file
members, common people who lacking a third choice have to vote either
Democratic or Republican. For many years, the mainstay of the Republican
Party was a block of industrialists and financiers of the Northeast and
midwestern farmers. The membership of the Democratic Party was no less
curious, for two of its most important components were southern landowners
and northern industrial workers — two factions apparently irreconcilable
because of differing economic and social objectives.
The area in which one lives is still considered an important factor in
determining one’s vote, though sectionalism appears to be of decreasing
importance. Until recent years, the South was “solid” for the Democrats,
while New England was “rock-ribbed” for the Republicans.
The great cities of the United States show a strong tendency to vote
Democratic while suburban areas have become Republican bastions in many
parts of the nation.
Blue-collar workers and racial minority groups are concentrated in
cities. Since this groups tend to vote Democratic, the party they support
has great strength in cities. On other hand, those who belong to the high-
income groups and usually vote Republican are concentrated in suburban
The party machines of both Republican and Democratic parties are run
by party bosses closely associated with different monopoly groups and these
two main political parties in the USA are parties of the monopoly
capitalists. The Republican and Democratic parties have monopolized
political life in the USA. Their monopoly of political power creates
difficulties in the struggle for democracy. While the reactionary groups
operate easily within each of this two main parties of capitalism,
promoting their interests, the working class and the mass movements are
denied such an opportunity. This is especially felt in the elections. The
American big business and progressive forces in the country and isolate the
The Communist Party of the USA was denied its rights as a political
party by legal and extralegal means. Anti-Communist “loyalty oaths” by
candidates required by some state laws were used as an additional against
the Communist Party and other progressive organizations. Because of the
bipartisan system of the elections the majority of the nation, its working
class, poor farmers and seasonal workers have no other choice but to vote
either for the Democrats or the Republicans. Though major sections of the
working class, the Black people and other popular forces, still remain in
the political grip of the Democratic Party, there is little doubt that many
voters see nothing to choose between the Tweedledeeism of the Democrats and
the Tweedledeeism of the Republicans. Lacking a third choice, they fail to
choose at all. The central objective towards which all forces of the Left
are striving is an independent electoral policy, and the Communist Party of
the USA calls for united effort of labour membership, civil rights
movement, advocates of peace, so that they could present meaningful
alternatives to labour and minority of their needs and interests.