Sample Political Science Critical Thinking Paper on Section 1: US Government

The Concept of Checks and Balances

The concept is a component in the United States Constitution and an essential principle of the American government. Check checks and balances concept is meant to make sure that all branches of the government that include the legislative, judicial and executive do exercise substantial power over the other. The concept hence ensures that every branch has some significant measure of influence over the other branches that can help it if it opts to block any procedure of the others. In most cases, it can prevent the procedure that according to its interpretation it is against the public interest (Vile 44).

The primary goal of the check and balances concept is to prevent accumulation of too much power to any branch of the government. The concept also aims at encouraging cooperation between the three branches and calling for extensive deliberation when solving a controversial concern, especially on policy implementation. For instance, in during the enactment of federal law, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have to vote in its favor. The houses of Congress hence check each other. The president then must sign the law, and if he chooses otherwise the bill is passed into law if the houses override the Veto by a majority rule of a two-thirds vote. Here the concept applies in that both the executive and the houses of Congress are checking each other. Vet powers and court reviews create a checking mechanism that is meant to create the balance of authority (Urbinati and Warren 388).

Ways Concept of Checks and Balances Makes Government More Democratic

The general idea of the concept is based on the study that concluded that majority of citizens are selfish and always aims at enhancing their interests and power at the expense of others. The mechanism is hence designed to limit powers of a single person in the government and this case the three branches. As a result, no single branch of the government can make a decision that will affect the common interest of the citizens without being scrutinized by the others. As a result, the concept of check and balances allows for the deliberation of the controversial issues and hence making a government democratic. The concept permits legitimate power to govern the country. It advocates for the implementation of good ideas while minimizing abuse of powers (Urbinati and Warren 391)

Presidential Checks on Congress

The president occupies the executive branch of the government and has the power to check the legislative. Congress has the mandate of originating and passing laws, but the executive can veto the enacted legislation. Through veto, the bill hence fails to pass. Additionally, the president has the powers of executing the laws that are adopted by Congress. In some situations, Congress may forward instructions to the president concerning the law while on the other hand, President has a considerable leeway on how the law will be executed. The Congress role here is in creating and passing laws while the president imparts the influence over the enacted legislation (Vile 55).

Congressional Checks on the President

The Congress major role is to originate and pass the laws. The Congress has powers of overturning the president’s veto through applying a two-thirds majority vote. The Senate has the powers of voting and rejecting the federal officials that are appointed by the president. Congress hence has oversight powers in the ways federal laws are executed. Congress can as well impeach the president for violating serious laws. A bill must pass through each house before it is sent to the president’s desk. As a result, each house exercises vet powers over the other (Urbinati and Warren 394).

Judicial Checks

The branch plays a checking role on executive and legislative while they also check on it. For instance, the president has powers of appointing the Supreme Court justices, even if they have to be confirmed by the Senate. Congress checks judicial in that it can amend the constitution to nullify constitutional reviews proposed by the Supreme Court. The court plays a significant role in the constitutional review process and interprets the laws to ensure that they are in agreement with the constitutional principles. If the law according to the court interpretation is not in line with the interest of the citizens, it has the powers of striking it down (Vile 65). 

Impact of Media on the Political Process and Its Role as a Check on Power

The media should be independent, free from biases and practice a principle of objective reporting for it to play a fundamental role in a liberal democracy. Media discloses information that is of public interest and hence increases the level of accountability in all the branches of the government. For instance, if the government was in a position of controlling all the information in regards to its actions, it will as well manage to evade accountability. It will hence exercise intolerable level of influence over the actions of its citizens. Media hence contributes significantly in scrutinizing all the branches of the government in a liberal democracy indicating its role as a check on power. It provides information that is accurate and free from bias to its citizens. As a result, people can act on the information provided accordingly (Oswald 386).

The media act as a check on the power of government power and the influences it has over its citizens. Currently, there has been an observable positive fall on media costs like TV, Internet services, radio, and satellite as well as significant growth in mass media. The phenomenon has contributed significantly in helping bring political information to a much broader audience. Additionally, the increased boom in media services has enabled the political spectrum to reach their targeted audiences in a rapid and efficient manner (Oswald 398).

Section 2: Federalism

Explain the concept of Federalism

Federalism refers to a compound style of the administration that aims at combining the general government referred to as federal or central with the regional governments using a single political system. In federalism, the form of government is in such a way that power is divided between the two levels of government that have equal status.  The government of the United States is based on the concept federalism. The concept of administration is meant to allow two or more separate entities to work together and share control over the same region as determined by geographical territories. United States citizens and residents are subject to the laws of the county, city, state and the federal government. In federalism administration, the power is shared between the national government and the other government units (Watts 11).

The Roles of Federal Government

The federal government has significant roles of conducting the national affairs. The areas of responsibility are highlighted in the constitution, and they include defense and foreign affairs. The federal government also is responsible for the trade, immigration, pensions, currency, the offering of the most social services to the citizens, broadcasting, and telecommunication. The federal government plays a significant role in providing funds to the majority of the projects that are conducted by the States. For instance, it is responsible for providing funds to cater for the health, industrial relations, environmental issues and education (Watts 13).

The Roles of State Government

The roles that are played by the State government in a country include almost other roles that are not carried out by the federal administration. In various situations, both levels of the government, that is, state and federal are involved in carrying out a particular project. The major responsibilities that are assigned to the State government include community services, environmental conservation, fishing, agriculture, public transport and works, recreation programs and sports, emergency services and consumer affairs. Every state government has its constitution that sets outs and defines its style and government system (Stein and Turkewitsch 9).

The Roles of Local Government

The areas that are governed by the local government vary in character and size. The power that is to be exercised by the local government is controlled by Acts of State Parliament, for instance, the control by the Local Government Act. The administration is, therefore, responsible for the issues that are close to the citizens. The roles under the control of the local government include the majority of the community services, public health, regulating the building, development, and construction of houses, local roads and footpaths, disposal of wastes, and environmental issues that are affecting the residents (Watts 19).

Dual Federalism

The mode of administration refers to the federal system that each level of government performs the task that seems most fit for that level. Here the division of powers is distinct between the national and the state’s government. The specific roles are enumerated that are to be carried out by the federal government, and the states governments conduct the remaining tasks. The system hence is deemed to offer each government supreme in its field of operations. The national government is hence not allowed to infringe the operational areas that are to be governed by the state. Federal government infringement is deemed as unlawful action. The system is viewed as working toward preventing the national government from interfering with the regional’s race relations. The challenge of dual federalism is in determining where the layer of national government ends and where the States government starts (Stein and Turkewitsch 29).

Cooperative Federalism

It became apparent during the New Deal, at the time that the power of the federal government was applied to respond to the Great Depression. The cooperative federalism does not distinguish clearly the roles of the states and those played by the federal government. The theory stresses that there are various areas that the responsibility of federal and state government overlap causing a notion of overlapping jurisdictions. For instance, in education, the federal government provides funds for the education, but the states choose the curriculum. Similarly, the enforcements that concerns war against drugs are addressed by the federal agents, state troopers and the local police (Watts 25).

New Federalism

It is a new movement that emerged in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century, and it is also referred to as states rights. The New federalism is characterized by the primary intention of gradually returning to the power to the state government. It is aimed at causing a significant devolution revolution. Before the emerging of the new federalism, the federal government was mandated to categorically grant funds to the states and limit the use of funds to be invested in specific programs. The movement was hence meant to bring about block grants that enabled the States government to spend the granted fund at their discretion (Watts 29).

Section 3: Civil Rights

Civil rights are the privileges that are enforceable in the court of law, and they give rise to an action for injury if inferred by another person. The expansion of civil rights in the United Sates occurred due to the endorsement of the 13th and 14th Amendments in the Constitution.  The two civil rights to be discussed are the voting and the right to speech (Dudziak 44).

Voting Rights

The right to vote is meant to ensure that the democracy of a nation is upheld. It is a cornerstone of democracy, and it is a basic right in which all other civil liberties rest. Through voting, citizens of a nation have the power of influencing government decision-making process. People vote to express preferences for a candidate to hold a specific office or to pass or reject a proposed resolution. The right hence works towards enriching the democracy of the nation by allowing the exercising of the rule of majority (Hogg 67). 

The voting right has changed over time depending on with the interpretation of the people and the courts of law. Currently, the eligibility of an individual to vote in U.S is established in the state and federal constitution law. Several amendments have been made that are meant to ensure that the right of citizens to vote is not interfered with by the federal or the state government. Constitution has been amended severally, for instance, the fifteenth, nineteenth and twenty-sixth amendments. The changes have been made to ensure that the rights of a person to vote are not abridged based on color, sex, previous condition of servitude, age and race. Originally, the Constitution of the United States had not defined the persons that were eligible to exercise their voting right. As a result, each state was mandated with the role of determining the eligibility of the individuals to vote (Dudziak 56).

In early days of the U.S. History, the majority of the states allowed white male adults who were above the age of twenty-one years and the property owners the right to vote. Freed slaves were only allowed to vote in four states. Men and women who did not own properties were not authorized to vote. In the year 1807, women and non-white Americans in New Jersey and northern states were allowed to vote after meeting the property requirement. During the post-Civil War constitutional amendments, the ratification was done to extend right to vote to different groups of citizens. The 15th amendment was meant to ensure that people from different race, color, and previous servitude were not denied their rights to vote. The 19th Amendment ensured that people could vote irrespective of their gender orientation. 24th and 26th amendments were meant to make sure that people irrespective of the failure to pay a poll or any other tax for federal elections and youth over the age of eighteen were not denied their voting rights respectively. The court has also ruled in the issue concerning homeless people rights to vote in their favor. Majority states deny them their rights basing it on challenges of determining their true citizenship caused by lack of residency (Murrin et al. 296).

Right to Speech

The civil right is meant to allow the citizens express their opinion as long as they do not hurt the reputation of others intentionally by making false accusations. Individuals should as well avoid using their right to speech to make deliberately irresponsible statements that can harm others. The right to speech is hence meant to enable people to raise their opinions openly in the attempt of convincing others to change their minds. The First Amendment of the Constitution allows people to disagree with others without fearing any form of punishment from the government authorities. The right to speech is a fundamental component of the freedom of expression. The right hence allows people to make remarks without government interferences and constraint freely. The government may with times attempt to regulate the content of freedom of speech. However, in such situation, the Supreme Court requires it to provide before it a significant justification that is beyond a reasonable doubt to warrant interference with the right to speech. Nevertheless, the court has approved government prohibition of some speech that is likely to cause violence and hence breach the peace of other citizens (Keighley 540).

Section 4 Current Events

Sweeping of Homeless Camps in Washington by the State

The ruling by the judges concerning the sweeps of the homeless camps by the states is an example of the concepts that relates to the concept of checks and balance, civil rights and the performance of the state and federal government concerning the protection of citizens. A federal government found that southern states were liable of sweeping the homeless citizens from their camps. The court ruled that Clark County’s work crews were to be held responsible for the violation of constitutional rights. According to the court, they were liable for the act of throwing out their tents, photographs, medications and cooking items like stoves during the sweep event. The trial was set to determine the injuries caused to the people and the damage to be paid (“Sweeps of Homeless Camps” 14).

The event relates to the concept of check and balance, civil rights and the responsibilities of the federal and states government. The after the county and the state’s government conducted the sweeping of the people from the camps the court played the role of check and balances in that it came in to defend the freedom and rights of the citizens. The act was violating the interest of the residents and was supposed to vacate their camps without being compensated. The court hence chipped in to check the actions of the states and the county governments concerning the policy passed to clean up the camps. The court exercised its significant influence on the decision made by the states and county government concerning the immediate cleaning up of the camps. The state’s role is to cater to the need of the residents. The events hence indicated failure of the states and the local government to cater for the residents. In my opinion, people who are homeless in the society have constitutional rights. The right process could have applied even when the government is intending to seize their possessions. The source of the news was from the associated press of the New York Times. Media are prone to have biases when it comes to broadcasting information depending on the favored political movements (Murrin et al. 299).

Works Cited

Dudziak, Mary L. Cold War Civil rights: Race and the image of American democracy, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011. Print.

Hogg, Peter, Constitutional Law of Canada. Toronto: Thomson-Carswell, 2007. Print.

Keighley, Jennifer M. “Can You Handle the Truth-Compelled Commercial Speech and the First Amendment.” Journal of Constitutional Law.15.2 (2012): 539-618. Print.

Murrin, John M,  Johnson, Paul E,  McPherson, James M,  Fahs, Alice and Gerstle, Gary, Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.

Oswald, Kristine A. “Mass Media and the Transformation of American Politics.” Marquette Law Review 77.2 (2009): 385-414.print.

Stein, Michael, and Lisa Turkewitsch. “The concept of multi-level governance in studies of federalism.” International Political Science Association (2008): 1-35. Print.

“Sweeps of Homeless Camps in Washington State Violated Rights, Judge Rules.” 17 SEPT. 2016: 14. Print.

Urbinati, Nadia, and Mark E. Warren. “The concept of representation in contemporary democratic theory.” Annul. Rev. Polit. Sci. 11 (2008): 387-412. Print.

Vile, Maurice John Crawley. Constitutionalism and the Separation of Powers, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States: Liberty Fund, 2012. Print.

Watts, Ronald L. “Comparing Federal Political Systems.” Understanding Federalism and Federation, Farnham: Routledge, 2015. Print.