Regarding the federal government of the United States of America
Hi. Inspired by the, "U.S. states starting to claim sovereignty (FUCK THE FED) " thread.
Basically, a poster said, or rather, implied that the federal government is not a legitimate governing body, given that it is not mentioned in the Constitution (refer to post #22). So my questions to the American posters are:
1. Is this true?
2. Is the federal government of the United States an elected body? Sorry if this question sounds retarded; I know very little about your country.
3. What, if any, is the federal government's justification for its own existence?
4. Assuming that the federal government is legitimate, how big/"powerful" should this body be, in relation to the individual state governments? What is it allowed to do? What is it not allowed to do? Who is to determine these? What happens when a state does not agree with its decisions/policies?
Or if you don't really have an answer to these questions, maybe you direct me to someone/a website where I might find the answers for myself? It would be appreciated.
Re: Regarding the federal government of the United States of America
Oh boy. Well I don't have too much time to comment on this right now but I'll try to condense it down....try.
Anyway to answer your first question, I would say that it's not explicitly stated that there is a federal government but its chalk full of words that would certainly imply that there is in fact a Federal Government and a State government. For instance in the preamble it specifically says "in order to form a more perfect UNION" or in Article 1 section one it says "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the UNITED STATES". These two sentences implies that there is in fact a federal system in which there is a federal government uniting the several states of America together "TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION". Also if you read the FEDERALIST(by definition meaning groups of members bound by a governing representative head) documents it not only explains the system they are implying but also many other aspects of the constitution and they also explain why they made the system this way. Clarifies a lot so I suggest you read them for further explanations.
Now for the second question: There are some members who are elected and some who are not. Most are though. Our congress (House of representatives and Senate) are elected and the President and Vice President are elected, however his cabnet members aren't and they do play a significant role in our government. Also the 9 justices in our judicial branch aren't democratically elected either but appointed by the President. But our election system is highly complex and I'm still learning a bunch on it but I'll try and explain as much as I can. anyone who finds an error please by all means correct me (lol mainly because I need to do good on an exam). Now our legislative branch (house and senate) contains 435 house members and 100 senate members. The House number is determined by the population of a state. A state with a small population will have less house members where as a state with a dense population will have more house members. Now each state gets two Senate members and because there are 50 states the total number of senators we obtain becomes 100. Anyway the states are divided into certain districts and depending on how large the state is depends on how many districts it has. Each district has one house member representing them and they are elected based off of popular vote or whoever gets the most votes. However, there is no second place so its a winner takes all. Senate is popular vote too but only two can be elected. Now the President is elected in an even stranger way. Their votes are based off of Majority vote, not popular vote. We have an electoral college consisting of on person per state. but the votes are once again weighted based off of population. Their votes is basically the whole number of House members and senators in that state. An elector wins by popular vote and whatever that states votes for (democrat or republican) means that the elector is supposed to vote based off of the popular vote for the president. Anyway that elector meets with the other electors and casts their votes. some will have like 13 votes whereas other states might have like 23 votes. Anyway once they're counted then whoever has the most votes wins. But this is not the popular vote because a president can have a popular vote but lose because the other president won in a state that carries more votes. And therefore he wins the majority. Now if there is a tie between the two running presidents then it goes to Congress where the House votes on the President and the Senate votes on the Vice president. Oh yeah don't get the President mistaken with a president like in France. The President in the U.S basically carries the executive power and the Vice President is basically his little bitch.
3rd Question: You should probably read the federalist papers for the most accurate answer but essentially the Federal government is there as a check to the states. They make sure the States are doing whatever is said in the constitution. but they're also there to raise money on the national level and to raise a standing army for time of war. They are also there to provide basic protection. It's very complex today because the Federal government has significantly more power than it did decades ago.
4th question: this is pretty ambiguous and has become difficult to tell exactly. But I should say all of the laws both explicitly and implied is what the Federal Government can do and any other laws that isn't stated in the Constitution is reserved for the States. For instance, a state can decide whether or not they want to impose an excise tax on Cigarettes or whether or not they want to lower the drinking age to 18. Now the Federal Government can do things but its more broad things rather than specific things. such as forcing a state to not deny an African American the right to vote. However, in todays World the Federal government is beginning to abuse its power...such as the pot laws. No where in the constitution says that pot is illegal, and is therefore reserved to the states to decide. Many states today have de-criminalized it and refused to listen to the Federal government. This is why you're hearing a lot about the raids in California right now. States aren't doing anything with an iron fist though because its a touchy thing that they don't want to get involved with, especially in a time of economic crisis. Anyway, the people who determine this is basically the Legislative Branch but the Executive Branch and the Judicial power have powers that can reject the laws or change them. For instance, the Judicial branch has the power to interpret the law. So if congress makes a law that changes the meaning of the constitution, such as violating freedom or religion or something, the Judicial branch can claim it unconstitutional and disregard it, such as the RFRA (religious freedom restoration act).
Anyway, its a very very complex system and I really only covered the tip of the iceberg...at least I hoped. The only way to really learn about it is to read the Constitution, read a bunch of books pertaining to U.S Political Science, and maybe taking some classes in it. Even I don't know that much about the U.S system.