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Иностранные языки Figure 8. System of checks and balances
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Separation of Powers and System of Checks and Balances

The division of government power among three separate but equal branches provides for a system of checks and balances. Each branch checks or limits the power of the other branches. For example, although Congress makes laws, the president can veto them. Even if the president vetoes a law, Congress may check the president by overriding his veto with a two-thirds vote. The Supreme Court can overturn laws passed by Congress and signed by the president. The selection of federal and Supreme Court judges is made by the other two branches. The president appoints judges, but the Senate reviews his candidates and has the power to reject his choices. With this system of checks and balances, no branch of government has a superior power.

Thus, by dividing power among the three branches of government, the Constitu­tion effectively ensures that government power will not be usurped by a small powerful group or a few leaders.

However, there are other features of the political system, not mentioned in the Constitution, which directly and indirectly influence American politics.

Party System: Historically, 3 features have characterized the party system in the U.S.:

1) two major parties alternating in power;

2) lack of ideology; and

3) lack of unity and party discipline.

The U.S. has had only 2 major parties throughout its history. When the U.S. was founded, 2 strong political groupings emerged - the Federalists and Anti-Federalists.

Since then, the practice of two major parties alternating each other in power has existed. And for over one hundred years, America’s two-party system has been dominated by the Democratic and Republican Parties.

The Democratic Party was started in the 1820’s growing from an offshoot of the country’s first party, the Federalist Party.

The Republican Party began as an anti-slavery party in 1854 with members from the Democratic Party and the Whigs. It was formed to oppose the spread of slavery into new states.

Neither party, however, has ever completely dominated American politics. On the national level, the majority party in Congress has not always been the same as the party of the president. Even in the years when one party dominated national politics, the other party retained much support at state or local levels. Thus, the balance between the Democrats and Republicans has shifted back and forth. In general, the parties tend to be similar. Democrats and Republicans support the same overall political and economic goals. Neither party seeks to shake the foundation of the U.S. economy or social structure.