American Government: Summary of Principles of Government

Topics: Political philosophy, Separation of powers, Presidential system Pages: 1 (298 words) Published: September 30, 2012
American Government: Chapter 1 Summary: Principles of Government Section 1
There are four major theories that attempt to explain how states evolved from earlier governments and tribes: 1. The force theory suggests that a strong man, dictator, soldier, or a powerful group of people maintained power through force. 2. The evolutionary theory argues that as more and more families combined into a society, government evolved naturally. 3. The divine right theory suggests that God, or gods, created the state. 4. The social contract theory, which emerged from the philosophies of John Locke, suggests that the state, or government, can exist only with the consent of the governed. The government of the United States is based on this theory. Section 2

Government takes various forms. To help classify different types of governments, consider the following basic principles. 1. Geographic distribution of power:
A unitary government places all power at the national level. •A federal government distributes power and authority between the national and local levels. •A confederation places most power with the states, which then loosely cooperate to make national decisions. 2. Legislative/Executive interaction:

In a presidential system, the Legislative and the Executive branches are equally powerful. •In a parliamentary system, the Executive branch is contained within the Legislative branch. 3. Degree of public participation:

A dictatorship is an all-powerful Executive branch that does not answer to the public. •A democracy is a government that answers to the people through elections. Section 3
In addition to the structures and principles already discussed, democracies must adhere to a few basic concepts: •Democracies believe in the individual worth of human beings. •Democracies support equality between persons.

Democracies run by majority rule but still protect minority rights. •Democracies believe in compromise.
Democracies support a large degree of...
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