American Government and Politics Today

Congress

Congress refers to the arm of the American government that forms the bicameral legislature that consists of the lower and upper houses that host the representatives and senators respectively. Congress has the legislative powers on all issues about the government, citizens, and international relations (Bardes 12). These powers are granted to this body by Chapter 1 of the Constitution of the United States of America. Even though, the lower and upper houses perform different roles they act in accordance with the constitution to ensure they arrive at the same objective. However, they are equal partners in the process of enacting legislation. The following are some of the factors that have contributed to low productivity among congressmen and the low approval rates witnessed over the past years.

First, members of congress are elected through elections conducted in accordance with the constitution. This means that they belong to political parties that have different manifestos and objectives. Therefore, their thinking and actions are usually partisan, and this contributes to their poor performance. It is necessary to explain that even though congressmen are supposed to act in the best interest of the whole country they sometimes fail to meet this regulation.

They are guided by their political godfathers and ideologies that sometimes affect their performance. The previous congressional leadership committee was polarized by partisan ideologies that affected its performance. Secondly, congress takes a lot of time before approving or rejecting presidential nominations (Zimmerman 44). This means that if the individuals hold key public offices they will take a lot of time before they are given their respective offices.

This leads to delays in budget preparations and the implementation of other important policies. This has led pollsters to rate the senate poorly in terms of productivity since they are not serious in their debates. All houses have a short time to scrutinize candidates nominated by the president; therefore, they should manage this issue within the deadlines set and also conduct other businesses of the house.

Lastly, they have an uncoordinated work schedule that makes them unable to conduct their activities properly. They are always rushing to beat deadlines at their home districts and legislative houses. This means that they have problems in planning their roles and this leaves some of their duties hanging. It is necessary to explain that congressmen are not supposed to limit their duties to the legislative (O’Connor 34). They should plan their diaries to integrate their duties at the local levels where they were elected and also perform their national duties. Poor planning has contributed to a low performance by congressmen, and this has not been resolved for years thus making these houses have poor ratings.

The public has a significant role to play in ensuring the congress performs well despite the poor record it has exhibited. First, citizens must set deadlines for congressmen to pass financial bills including the budget on time; however, if they fail to do this they should not be paid their salaries. This will compel them to keep time. In addition, they should be forced to make their agendas known so that they can develop a working schedule that will accommodate their roles at the national and district levels. Thirdly, the constitution must be amended to ensure that congress leaders are nonpartisan to enable the government to perform its roles (O’Connor 36).

Most activities in the lower and upper houses have been affected by partisan ideologies that do not conform to the spirit of nationalism. Moreover, the public can demand that the president should always attend parliament sessions at least once every month. This will enable the congressmen to ask him questions and exchange various issues that will help the government to play its roles without interference or confusion from other arms of government. Lastly, there have been negative campaigns against incumbents of an opposing party. This has created rifts between democrats and republicans and this has affected the quality of work done by congressmen.

The Presidency

This is the highest elective office in the United States of America and the officeholder. The constitution gives him the power to be the head of government, state and, chief diplomat, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. However, the role of the president has expanded in the past few years due to the following reasons.

First, there have been emergencies that have compelled the United States to react in a way that will alleviate the aftermath of these cases. For instance, the recent terrorist attacks on the United States and its embassies have forced the president to issue decrees or form commissions that investigate and propose various steps that will control and stop these acts. The former president of the United States of America George W. Bush used unprecedented presidential powers when he ordered the military to invade Afghanistan and Iraq to flush out terrorists (O’Connor 36).

Even though, these powers are not in the constitution he used them to protect the sovereignty and the lives of Americans. This means that the president can use his powers to make decisions that will benefit the country even though such provisions are not granted by the constitution. Barrack, Bush, and Clinton have used ‘National Security’ as a scapegoat to engage in wars that are not defined by the American constitution. The last war was declared in 1941, and since then there has been no other declaration yet American continues to wage wars with other nations.

Even though, their actions may be justified the Supreme Court has on various occasions rejected these moves and declared them unconstitutional. Secondly, Congress has enacted policies that have expanded the roles of the president. This body has become partisan and advanced issues that will favor their side at the expense of national and international security (Zimmerman 56). It is necessary to explain that Bush used the congress to justify his moves and advance what he thought would be appropriate for his administration.

A successful president must be non-partisan, and this means that he should not work to favor his side of the congress or his nation at the expense of other political parties and nations respectively. Even though, the presidency is a challenging position the officeholder must be committed and sacrifice his personal and national interests to advance national development and develop healthy relationships with other nations. He is a figure that represents his country; therefore, his opinion is usually held as the position of a country. Therefore, the individual must act responsibly and ensure every step taken is in accordance with the constitution and international treaties.

He has powers to influence congress to legislate policies that will favor his position; however, he should not take advantage of this potion to advance issues that are irrelevant to nation-building (Bardes 23). For instance, the former president used a lot of money and time to fight the war against terror and this subjected the country to a serious financial crisis. The current president has followed suit, and this has made the country face serious challenges regarding the high medical costs that are beyond manageable levels. Therefore, a good president must prioritize needs according to their urgency, costs, and appropriateness before rushing to issue decrees.

Public Opinion and Political Parties

The public opinion refers to the perception of the civilians regarding various issues of national concern. This is an effective way of ensuring that the public participates in decision-making processes that are important in developing their social, economic, and political lives. It is necessary to explain that pollsters and results play significant roles in giving political parties their agenda and manifestos (O’Connor 34). On the other hand, political parties are vehicles used by politicians to gain control over national resources and elective positions. A political party should rely on opinion polls to ensure it gets the following advantages over other competitors.

First, these polls reflect the needs of the population that are important in developing manifestos for political parties. Therefore, a party that relies on public opinions will address issues that affect voters. Secondly, the results portray the level of penetration of political parties, and they can use them to evaluate their coverage. In addition, people usually have different perspectives regarding politicians and their parties. Some of these may be gained from propaganda or misconception (Paddock 73). Therefore, political parties should use this information to read the mind of the public and develop ways of managing false information.

On the other hand, these poll results may not reflect the actual situation on the ground regarding political parties or leaders and this may force a party or candidate to incur unnecessary expenses in trying to correct the perceived misinformation. Political parties are effective in setting the tone for politics because they are driven by individuals with different ideologies.

A party that has competent and experienced leaders will attract the attention of the public and thus have higher chances of winning in elections compared to one that has incompetent and inexperienced leaders. It is necessary to explain that a powerful political party will attract a lot of supporters that will advance its agendas and support its view in the case of referendums (Bardes 25). In addition, if this party has a high number of congressmen in the upper or lower house it will have a significant influence on national issues.

Constitution

A constitution is a document that contains the rules, regulations, and provisions a state has over its citizens. It is necessary to explain that all legal and official issues are regulated by the constitution, and this means that this document gives power to citizens and guides their interactions with the state and other civilians. People must read and understand their constitutions so that they can have the power to determine their future.

It is important to explain that ignorance is not a preserve for anyone who breaks the law since the state expects people to know their rights and responsibilities. People have become capitalists and used various dirty tricks to advance their needs (Paddock 77). This has exposed others to criminal activities that violate the rights of other people. It is necessary to understand the rights and freedoms of individuals regarding their participation in politics. This will enable them to take active roles in determining their future through public opinions, elections, and referendums.

Works Cited

Bardes, Barbara. American Government and Politics Today: Essentials 2011 – 2012 Edition. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.

O’Connor, Karen. Essentials of American Government: Roots and Reform, 2011. New Jersey: Pearson, 2011. Print.

Paddock, Joel. State and National Parties and American Democracy (Popular Politics and Governance in America). Bern: Peter Lang Publishing, 2011. Print.

Zimmerman, Joseph. The Referendum: The People Decide Public Policy. Connecticut: Preager, 2009. Print.