The Role of Government


Government is the institutions and rules governing the actions of an organization or group of people. Governments are normally structured in the form of a legislature, executive and judiciary. In most countries, the formation and powers of governments are governed by a constitution.

The Framers knew that making one branch of government too powerful caused big problems, so they built a system that kept the three branches in balance with each other. This is called separation of powers and checks and balances. It means that when a law is made in one branch of government, it must be approved by another before it can take effect. This slows down policymaking considerably, but it also gives citizens many opportunities to influence law as it makes its way from initial idea to final implementation.

When a citizen disagrees with a law, for example, he or she can work to persuade the president to veto it. This helps make sure the laws are fair and equal. This also helps keep Congress and the executive branch from becoming too powerful.

There are many ways to structure a government, but they usually involve dividing power into distinct institutions or branches with specific functions and responsibilities. The distribution of these responsibilities and the number of institutions vary between governments. Some are multiparty systems while others have a single party in control. In any case, it is important to limit the number of elected officials from a given political party or faction.

A common way to share power among citizens is through democracy, in which the citizenry directly forms a participatory governing body by election or other means such as sortition. The citizenry is responsible to its constituents and must follow their instructions. The alternative to democracy is an oligarchy, in which power rests with a small elite ruling class distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties or education.

An important role of government is to provide public goods, such as national defense, environmental protection and the definition and enforcement of property rights. In addition, government policies may redistribute income or increase consumer choice in some situations. Governments can also play an economic role by limiting competition to prevent abuse or by providing benefits that can’t be privately owned or sold, such as infrastructure, public services and education.

According to the latest national surveys conducted by Pew Research Center, most adults—including majorities of Republicans and Democrats—say government has a responsibility to do more to ensure that all Americans have economic opportunity. However, there are differences by partisanship and age. For example, younger adults are more likely than older ones to say that government should do more to improve economic opportunities for all Americans. They also are more likely than older adults to say the government should help with health care costs and retirement savings. These findings are based on two national surveys conducted July 23-Aug. 2 on landlines and cellphones among 11,001 U.S. adults, including 9,114 registered voters.