Presentation on theme: "Government. What is government and Why does it exist? Government is the institution by which society makes and enforces its public policies. Public."— Presentation transcript:
What is government and Why does it exist? Government is the institution by which society makes and enforces its public policies. Public Policy – all those things government does. Government is the institution through which the state maintains social order, provides public services and enforces binding decisions on citizens.
Who Governs and to what ends? Traditional answer – Those people who exercise government’s powers and have authority and control over other people Legislators – make the laws Executives –administer and enforce the laws Judges – apply the law to court cases This course will be about answering this question as we explore Foundations of American Government Government institutions The Political Process, Participants and the Political Process
What is a state? The state can be defined as a body of people living in a defined territory, organized politically under a government, having the power to make and enforce law without the consent of any higher authority.
Characteristics of a state People / Population Land or Territory Government Sovereignty
People People may be homogeneous - people who are basically alike or heterogeneous - people of different races, language, religions and customs. The nature of a state’s population affect its stability. Where the people who share a general political and social consensus about basic beliefs have the most stable governments.
The mobility of the population has an effect on political power – shifting power in the USA (rural to cities, cities to suburbs, north to south)
Territory or Land Boundaries – Exact shape or location of boundaries are often a source of conflict US has gained territory from purchase, negotiation, and war.
Sovereignty The key characteristic of a state is sovereignty Sovereignty is absolute authority within one’s own territory Sovereignty is the one characteristic that distinguishes the state from all lesser political units (The States within the United States are not sovereign and not states)
Location of sovereignty within a state is of supreme importance. If the people are sovereign then the government is democratic. If a single person, or a small group hold absolute power a dictatorship exists.
Government Every state is politically organized. Every state has some form of government.
Terms Country and Nation are terms used interchangeably with state but … Country is a geographic term referring to a place or boundaries Nation is an ethnic term referring to races or other groups of people A State like one of the United States is a lesser political unit lacking absolute authority within its own boundaries.
Where did the state come from? The Four Theories RE: Origin of the state Force Theory Evolutionary Theory Divine Right Theory Social Contract Theory
Force Theory One person or group claimed control over an area and forced all within it to submit to that person’s or group’s rule.
Evolutionary Theory The state evolved naturally out of the family. In the primitive family one person was the head (government). Over time a family became a network of relatives, a clan. Clans became tribes and later clans gave up their nomadic ways turning to agriculture and the state was born.
Divine Right Theory The Gods have chosen certain people to rule – by divine right Some believed their rulers were gods, descendents of gods or at least chosen by gods People believed the state was created by God Concept of royal birth To disobey a ruler is to disobey God
Social Contract Philosophers believed the origin of the state was in a social contract Thomas Hobbes In a state of nature no government existed Without gov’t life was cruel brutish and short By contract the people surrendered to the state power needed to maintain order – The state agreed to protect its citizens People did not have the authority to break the contract
John Locke Took the contract further …. Locke defended Parliament’s overthrow of King James II He wrote people were endowed with the right to life, liberty and property (natural rights) To preserve their rights they willingly contracted to give power to a government. If government failed to preserve the rights of the people they could break the contract Locke influenced Jefferson
Declaration Of Independence Key Principles All human beings are created equal and they are endowed with certain rights These are rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness – Unalienable rights Government was created to protect these basic rights Government derive their power from the consent of the governed If a government abuses its power the people may change, eliminate and establish a new one.
Purposes of Government To maintain social order To provide public services To provide national security and common defense To provide for and control the economic system