The Role of Government

Government is the body, entity or people invested with the power to manage a political unit of organization or more often a State. It is the governing authority in charge of running a country or State and making laws to guide its citizens. Governments exist all over the world and differ in form, function and style. However, all governments share the same central function of leading and protecting their people.

The earliest forms of government can be categorized as either one person or group ruling (an autocracy or monarchy), all people ruling together in the form of democracy, or the rule of a select few who dominate and control a nation through an authoritarian regime. Today, many countries combine elements from all these models resulting in governments that allow some freedoms while limiting others.

For example, a democratic government provides a means for citizens to participate in decision making through elections and the voice of their votes is heard by elected officials. But it also limits the powers of those in office by imposing checks and balances. Governments provide goods and services such as police and fire departments, public education, roads and bridges, mail service and food, housing, health care and utilities to their citizens. They protect the common goods, such as clean water and fish in the sea, that everyone can use but are limited in supply. Governments also protect the private goods of individuals such as freedom of speech and press, and the right to own property.

Other benefits of government include providing stability and security, protecting citizens from natural disasters and war, and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. Government workers have the option to work a flexible schedule, and in some cases can move from one department to another without losing their job. In addition, federal employees are eligible for a generous sick and annual leave program that increases with years of service.

A central role of government is to ensure that the rights and interests of all citizens are protected by a system of checks and balances and by a bill of rights. The Founders of the United States of America believed that citizens must be guaranteed freedoms such as freedom of speech and the right to vote. These rights are essential to the functioning of a democracy and a free society.

The national, state and local levels of government work together to make decisions that affect citizens and their communities. The national level is framed by the Constitution and the decisions made at this level are influenced by and influence those at the state and local levels. The Founders recognized that the higher the level of government, the more power there is and, consequently, the greater potential for abuse of this power.

The President, Cabinet members and Supreme Court Justices are examples of the highest rung of the ladder of federal government. The Constitution grants the president the ability to veto legislation created by Congress and to nominate heads of the executive branch and the judicial branch. Congress confirms or rejects these nominees and can remove the President from office in exceptional circumstances.