Government is the system by which people organize themselves to accomplish goals and provide benefits that society as a whole needs. Governments make rules to govern behavior, maintain security and safety for citizens, and ensure access to goods and services that are essential to a nation’s survival and happiness. Governments also provide a structure to communicate with each other and solve disagreements. In the United States, for example, citizens vote for leaders of their choice in a democracy, which allows them to express their opinions and share their beliefs with others. Governments also employ diplomats to solve disagreements with other countries, which can prevent war or lead to trade agreements and cultural or social exchanges.
A nation, state or country is a sizable group of people that shares a common heritage like a race, language, custom or religion. Governments are the institution through which these communities make and enforce rules to manage their affairs, which include establishing a legal structure and providing goods and services. Governments can be as small as a city council or large as the U.S. Congress, the legislative branch. Governments can be democratic, republican or monarchist, but they all have a common purpose of managing the interests of the community they serve.
In a democratic government, citizens elect representatives to city councils, state legislatures and Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. government. These bodies then make laws and draft budgets to determine how funds will be allocated for things like police, fire and education. On a national level, the President of the United States is elected through an electoral college system that assigns votes to states based on their population. The president may sign or veto legislation passed by the legislative branch. In the case of a veto, both houses of Congress must re-pass the bill, but with a two-thirds majority, in order to pass into law.
One of the most important functions of government is to protect people and property from violence, natural disasters and disease. Governments have police departments, firefighters and public transportation systems to do this. They also regulate the use of “common goods” like natural resources, so that people can benefit from them without destroying them or polluting them. Governments also work to make sure citizens have access to educational and health care, which are a fundamental part of human dignity.
A government’s authority can be derived from its position on the hierarchy of a political community, its culture or religion. A government’s legitimacy can also be based on its ability to meet the basic needs of its citizens. Some governments are democratic; other governments, such as monarchies or totalitarian regimes, have a different kind of legitimacy. In modern times, there are various types of governments that are classified according to the nature of their rule: aristocracy, oligarchy, autocracy and democracy (direct or representative). Some governments are hybrids of these systems. All have different implications for the lives of their citizens and the world as a whole.