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United States of America: The Next Herland?

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The United States of America was set up to be a democracy; which is a political government that is carried out directly by the people or by elected representatives of the people. In addition to being a democracy, the United States was also set up to be a federal constitutional republic. A constitutional republic is where the government is set up to have a series of checks on the powers of the individual parts to ensure that one part does not get to much power. In this paper I will discuss the United States politics and whether it would benefit more from a country that is based on the values illustrated in Thorstein Veblen's The Theory of the Leisure Class or from the values illustrated in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland.

The United States is different from other democracies for many reasons including increased power of the upper house of the legislature, a wider scope of power held by the Supreme Court, the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive, and the dominance of only two main parties (Wikipedia). Separation of powers is an important part of United States politics because it is the part that makes sure that each part of the government- executive, legislative, and judiciary, are all in line with each other. The separation of powers system is designed to distribute authority away from the executive branch - an attempt to preserve individual liberty in response to tyrannical leadership throughout history.

The executive office is not supposed to make laws or interpret them. The role of the executive is to enforce the law as written by the legislature and interpreted by the judicial system. It also conducts diplomacy with other nations and which includes giving the President the power to negotiate and sign treaties. The executive branch houses the power of the President of the United States. The president also acts as head of state and the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. According to the White House's official website, the President is "responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by Congress and, to that end, appoints the heads of the federal agencies, including the Cabinet (white house). The President also has the power to issue pardons and clemency for federal crimes that are committed. The next branch of government is the Legislative Branch.

This branch houses Congress. Congress's role in the separation of powers is to check the President's powers and balance his implementing laws and making regulations. The Constitution grants Congress sole authority to enact legislation and declare war, the right to confirm or reject many Presidential appointment and substantial investigative powers (White House). Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House is comprised of 435 members who are divided amongst the 50 states according to their population. The House members are elected every two years. The House has several powers including initiating bills, impeaching federal officials, and elects the President in the case of an Electoral College tie (White House). The Senate on the other hand, consists of only 100 members (2 for each state). Like the House, the Senate is elected for terms but their terms are for six years not two. The Senate is the only officials that have the power to confirm those of the Presidents appointments that require consent, and to ratify treaties (White House).

The Judicial Branch is the federal courts. The President appoints and then the Senate confirms the members of the Judicial Branch. Judges in the federal courts can only be removed by impeachment by the House and conviction in the Senate (White House). Because the judges and justices have no term limits, they are able to concentrate only on the law. Federal courts have the sole power to interpret the law, determine the constitutionality of the law and apply it to the individual cases. The Judicial Branch also consists of the Supreme Court which is the highest court in the United States.

In addition to the checks and balances, U S politics are mainly dominated by two political parties- The Democrats and the Republicans. The Democratic Party is one of the world's oldest political parties. The Democratic Party supports issues such as civil rights, and separation of church and state, and they have favored more liberal actions. The party believes that government should play a role in alleviating poverty and social injustice and use a system of progressive taxation. The Republic Party on the other hand is more into conservative actions. Republicans emphasize the role of free markets and individual achievement as the primary factors behind economic prosperity. A big issue that shows the difference between the two parties is the issue of global warming and the human impact on it. The Republic party feels that the Earth is going through a natural cycle and that it is not human caused while the Democrats feel that it is human caused and then we must take the necessary steps to correct the problem before it is too late. Republics also support the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted narrowly and as close to its original intent as is realistically possible.

If the United States political values were modeled after Veblen's leisure



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