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The Political System in the


The Political System in the United States

bald eagle, the national bird of the US.

Great Seal国玺

? The peace treaty of 1783 recognized the independence of the United States and the former 13 British colonies along the east coast of the Atlantic became 13 states of the new nation. But the political system and the relationships between the states and the government of the nation was not clear, a constitution was badly needed.

former 13 British colonies

I.

the Articles of Confederation 《联邦条款》

? After the War of Independence was won, the new nation of the United States was organized under the agreement of the Articles of Confederation with a weak national government called the Congress. Each state had its own government, made its own laws and handled its internal affairs. The states did not cooperate with the Congress and with each other. ? The Congress had no power to force any state to contribute money to the national government and the Congress could not tax any citizen either. As a result, the Articles of Confederation failed.

II. the making of the U.S Constitution
? The Articles of Confederation failed. The Congress decided to hold a constitutional convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. ? The delegates from 12 states (Rhode Island refused to participated) gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 and end up in writing a new constitution and set a federal system with a strong central government.

The Philadelphia Convention

? The Constitution provided that an election of the president would be called for, federal laws would be made only by a Congress made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate and a Supreme Court would be set up. This new Constitution was finally approved by the majority of the citizens in over 9 of the 13 states and was officially put into effect in 1787. ? * A federal system is one in which power is shared between a central authority and its constituent parts, with some rights reserved to each. ? * to protect citizens from tyranny, a “Bill of Rights” was added to the Constitution in 1791.

the United States Capitol, which houses the United States Congress

III. The Federal Government
? · The three branches—the Executive, headed by the president; the Legislative, including both houses of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representative) and the Judicial, headed by the Supreme Court.

the 3 branches of the U.S federal government
? the legislative branch(立法机构) is made up of elected representatives from all of the states and is the only branch that can make federal laws, levy federal taxes and declare war or put foreign treaties into effect. It consists of a Congress that is divided into the House of Representative and the Senate. ? The House of Representatives has 435 members who serve two-year terms. ? The Senate comprises 100 lawmakers who serve six-year terms, while 1/3 of them is elected every two years. ? Each state, regardless of population, has two senators.

? the executive branch(行政机构) is the president, who is elected to a four-year term. A president can be elected to only two terms according to an amendment passed in 1951. ? The powers of the presidency are formidable but with limitations. The president, as the chief formulator of public policy, often proposes legislation to Congress. ? The president can also veto any bill passed by Congress. The veto can be overridden by a 2/3 vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

the White House, home and work place of the U.S. president

? The president can appoint federal judges as vacancies occur, including members of the Supreme Court. All such court appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate. ? The president has broad powers, with the executive branch, to issue regulations and directives regarding the work of the federal departments. He is the commander in chief of the armed forces. ? Under the Constitution, the president is primarily responsible for handling foreign relations.
President George W. Bush with UK prime minister Gordon Brown

? the judicial branch(司法机构) is headed by the Supreme Court with a chief justice and 8 associate justices. The Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases arising out of the Constitution and other cases which do not arise out of individual states. ? The Supreme Court has the judicial review power, the power determining whether congressional legislation or executive action violates the Constitution.

the United States Supreme Court building

? System of “checks and balances (制约与 平衡的原则)” of the three-part national government works to keep serious mistakes from being made by one branch or another.

IV. the Bill of Rights (another basic foundation in the U.S Constitution )
? It was adopted in 1791 and consists of 10 very short paragraphs which guarantee freedom and individual rights and forbid interference with lives of individuals by the government. Each paragraph is an Amendment to the original Constitution. ? In the Bill of Rights, Americans are guaranteed freedom of religion, of speech and of the press. They have the right to assemble in public places, the right to own weapons and so on.

? Because of the Bill of Rights, neither police nor soldiers can stop and search a person without good reason. They also can not search a person’s home without legal permission from a court. ? * There were 16 other amendments to the Constitution as of 1991. So, there are 26 amendments to the U.S Constitution.

V. Two major Political Parties
? the Democratic Party, which is thought to be more liberal and the symbol of which is the donkey ? Under President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, Democrats set up government programs that provided paid employment for people building dams and roads and public buildings and Social Security (社会保障制度), which ensures that those who are retired or disabled receive monthly payments from the government. ("Relief, Recovery, and Reform“)
The New Deal and World War II: 1933-1945

Democrats regard Thomas Jefferson as the founder of the party.

President John Kennedy with his brothers

Bill Clinton

? the Republican Party, which is believed to be more conservative and the symbol of which is the elephant. ? Republicans place more emphasis on private enterprise and often accuse the Democrats of making the government too expensive and of creating too many laws that harm individual initiative.
President Nixon greets Chairman Mao in a historic visit to China, 1972

Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President (18611865).

? * Americans do not have to join a political party in order to vote or to be a candidate for public office. ? However, running for office without the money and campaign workers a party can provide is difficult.

“驴象之争”由来
? “驴子”是民主党的党徽,“大象”是共和 党的党徽。四年一次的美国总统选举又称 为“驴象之争”或“驴象赛跑”。民主党 与共和党分别以驴和象作为自己的象征, 源于德裔美国政治漫画家汤姆斯· 纳斯特的 讽刺漫画。 民主党最早和驴子扯在一起是1828年 杰克逊竞选美国第七任总统。当时对手批 评他是“笨驴”,讽刺他主张“让人民统 治”。杰克逊当选后,驴子的绰号一直罩 在作风固执的他的头上。

? 1870年,纳斯特画了一头驴登在 《哈泼斯周刊》上,以讽刺当时北 部反对内战的民主党人。这幅漫画 加深了人们头脑中“民主党即驴子” 的印象。驴子虽然笨头笨脑,却被 民主党人视为既聪明又勇敢的动物。 1880年,民主党在总统选举中开 始以驴子作为党的代表动物。

? 把大象与共和党连在一块则是纳斯特一手搞起的。 1874年,他在《哈泼斯周刊》上画了一幅摔倒的 大象,用它代表不满共和党总统格兰特执政的共 和党选民。同年,共和党在国会中期选举中大败, 纳斯特又画了一幅受困的大象予以讽刺。随后其 他漫画家也纷纷用大象来代表共和党。有趣的是, 被民主党讥讽为大而无当、华而不实、保守愚昧 的大象,在共和党人看来,代表的却是尊严、力 量和智慧。最后,共和党索性把大象作为自己的 代表动物。

Exercises:

I. True or False

? 1. When the War of Independence was over, the United States was one unified nation as it is today. ? 2. The agreement that set the plan of cooperation among different states after the War of American Independence was called the Constitution of the United States. ? 3. The US Constitution set up a federal system with a strong central government. ? 4. The main duty of the congress is to make laws, including those which levy taxes that pay for the work of the federal government. ? 5. Under a constitutional Amendment passed in 1951, a president can be elected to only one term.

? 6. The president has the authority to appoint federal judges, and all such court appointments are subject to confirmation by the House of representatives. ? 7. The 10 very short paragraphs which guarantee freedom and individual rights and forbid interference with lives of individuals by the government are called the Bill of Rights. ? 8. The idea of checks and balances as a way of restricting governmental power and preventing its abuse was first provided in the Federalist Papers. ? 9. Today, the United States has two major political parties. One is the Democratic Party, formed before 1800. The other is the Republican party, formed in the 1850s, by people in the states of the North and West. ? 10. Americans have to join a political party in order to vote or to be a candidate for public office.

II. Multiple Choice
? 1. which of the following statements is NOT correct? When the War of Independence was over,___. ? A. each new state had its own government. ? B. each new state made its own laws and handled all of its internal affairs. ? C. the national government was called the Congress with little power. ? D. the relationships between the states and the national government were clearly defined.

? 2. According to the author, the Articles of Confederation failed because of the following reasons. Which is not true? ? A. The new states did not cooperate with the Congress or with each other ? B. Some new states wanted to be free from the Union. ? C. The Congress could not raise money to pay the national army and to pay debts owed to France and other nations. ? D. The Congress had no power to tax any citizen.

? 3. Which of the following states refused to participate in the Constitutional Convention? ? A. Virginia B. Rhode Island ? C. New York D. Maryland

? 4. Which of the following statements is NOT correct? When the Constitution was written, ____. ? A. there was a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. ? B. there was no Bill of Rights. ? C. the Constitution did not have any words guaranteeing the freedoms or the basic rights and privileges of citizens. ? D. a “Bill of Rights” was added to the Constitution was made.

? 5. Which of the following is the only branch that can make federal laws, and levy federal taxes? ? A. the executive B. the legislative ? C. the judicial D. the president

? 6. Which of the following is NOT a power of the president? ? A. The president can veto any bill passed by Congress. ? B. The president has the authority to appoint
federal judges as vacancies occur.

? C. The president can make laws. ? D. The president broad powers, with the executive branch, to issue regulations and directives regarding the work of the federal departments.

? 7. The Bill of Rights consists of ___. ? A. 10 very short paragraphs in an amendment. ? B. 10 amendments adopted in 1787. ? C. 10 amendments added to the Constitution in 1791. ? D. the amendments concerning freedom of religion, of speech and of the press.

? 8. Which of the following is NOT guaranteed in the Bill of Rights? ? A. The freedom of religion. ? B. The freedom of searching q person’s home by police. ? C. The freedom of speech and of the press. ? D. The right to own weapons if one wishes.

? 9. The following were NOT written into the Constitution in 1787 except___. ? A. the Bill of Rights ? B. the judicial review ? C. the political party system ? D. the powers of the president.

? ? ? ? ?

10. The New Deal was started by ___. A. Franklin Roosevelt B. J. F. Kennedy C. George Washington D. Thomas Jefferson


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