作者:Emma Martin, a student who moved to China in 2011, fell in love with the country almost immediately and hasn't wanted to leave since! She's currently studying Political Science and Global China Studies at Shanghai New York University (上海纽约大学). Emma has been tutoring English of all ages for 4 years now, with a special interest in higher level English. Two of her passions include blogging and freelance jounalism!

If you are planning to go to the U.S. for college, it is a good idea to explore the country’s political system, a system deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history, even if at a foundational level. Even though the U.S.’s democracy is the second largest democracy in the world (after India’s), the country’s democracy is unlike many democracies in the world. Lastly, the U.S. is defined as a federal constitutional republic or a system in which states are able to form the government where no single person dictates, but rather the people or an elected official’(s) hold power.


Constitution and Central Documents

To understand the most basic elements of the U.S.’s political system, you have to understand the importance of the U.S. Constitution and other central documents such as the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence and their role in shaping the U.S.’s political system today. First introduced in 1787, the U.S. Constitution is often alluded to being the Law of the Land; and no one including the President is above the law. At first glance, the Constitution reads, “We the people..” representing that the government works for the people not the other way around. Furthermore, the first three articles of the constitution express the roles of three different groups of branches, as a way to ensure that power be separated amongst the federal government. Ensuring that power does not reach the sole hands of a group or individual is defined by the system of checks and balances.


要理解美国政治制度的最基本要素,你就必须了解美国宪法和其他核心文件的重要性,如《权利法案》(参见Bravo!1964民权法案今日签订!附链接)和《独立宣言》(参见这份文件创造了一个国家 附链接),以及它们在塑造当今美国政治制度中的作用。美国宪法于1787年首次提出,当然也常会和《土地法》混为一谈。其主旨包括总统在内的任何人都不能凌驾于法律之上。,宪法上写着,“我们代表人民”,表示政府为人民而工作,而不是反过来。《宪法》的前三条表达了三组不同部门的作用,以此确保权力在联邦政府之间分开。确保权力不落入一个团体或个人的手中是由制衡制度确定的。

3 Branches

As stated above, the three branches all play different roles in the government and consist of the executive, judicial, and legislative branch.

● Executive: The Executive branch is most well known as the branch that “executes the law” (hence the name) which is lead by the president. Under this branch, the president has many duties including the following; sign new laws, veto laws, and command armed forces.

● Legislative: The most basic function of the Legislative branch is to make the laws lead by Congress. Congress is split into two bodies: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each state elects two Senate members, to a total of 100 Senators. While on the other hand, the House of Representatives are elected based on population of a district, therefore there may be more Representatives from one state compared to another. Currently, 435 representatives reside in the House.

● Judicial: Lead by the Supreme Court and lower courts, the Judicial branch (or also referred to as the Judiciary) interprets the Constitution and evaluates laws. The Supreme Court includes nine members, all of who are appointed by the president.



● 行政权:行政部门最广为人知的是“执行法律”的部门(因此得名),该部门由总统领导。在这一分支下,总统有许多职责,包括:签署新法律、否决权和指挥武装力量。

● 立法:立法部门的最基本职能是使法律由国会领导。国会被分成两个机构:众议院和参议院。每个州选出两名参议员,共计100名参议员。另一方面,众议院是根据一个区的人口选举产生的,因此,一个州的众议员可能比另一个州多。目前有435名代表常驻在众议院。

● 司法:在最高法院和下级法院的领导下,司法分支(或也称为司法部门)解释《宪法》并评价法律。最高法院有九名成员,全部由总统任命。


The USA takes great pride in its elections run through the electoral college. You may have heard of the heated political discussions that often occur between political parties. Since the American Civil War (1861-1865), two parties have dominated political discourse in the U.S.- the Republican party and the Democratic Party. You may hear the Republican party referred to those who are more “right wing” or “conservative”, while the Democratic party is referred to those more “left wing” or “liberal”. However, it must be noted that the U.S. has several smaller parties as well, including the Green Party, Libertarian Party, etc.   



Although, these are just the basic elements of how the U.S.’s political system is setup and is run, it is important to understand that no political system waves a wand and “Voilah,” a perfect government. However, if you decide to go to the U.S., understanding the foundation of U.S. politics may help you also understand current political issues that you’ll most certainly see on every major news channel.