The American Political System

The United States of America is a federal republic. The Constitution is the oldest in the world (1787). It sets the basic form of government: three separate branches, each one having power (“checks and balances”) over the others. The Constitution has been repeatedly amended to meet the changing needs of the nation, but it is still the “supreme law of the land”.

The federal government of the USA is divided into three branches:

§ legislative (the U.S. Congress);

§ executive (the President of the U.S.);

§ judicial(the U.S. Supreme Court).

Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government. It is made up of the Senate and theHouse of Representatives. There are 100Senators, two from each state. One third of the Senators are elected every two years for six-year terms of office. The Senators represent all of the people in a state and their interests. The House of Representatives has 435 members. They are elected every two years for two-year terms. Almost all elections in the United States follow the “winner-take-all” principle: the candidate who gets the majority of votes wins the seat.

Congress makes all federal laws, and each house of Congress has the power to introduce legislation. Congress decides upon taxes and sets the federal budget. In addition, it regulates commerce among the states and with foreign countries. It also regulates the naturalization of foreign citizens.

According to the American Constitution the executive power belongs to the President and his Administration, or the Cabinet. The President of the United States is elected every four years to a four-year termof office. There are certain requirements for a person to become President. The President must be:

§ a natural-born citizen;

§ at least 35 years old;

§ a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.

A special ceremony called “Inauguration” takes place in Washington on January 20 at noon. At this ceremony the President promises to preserve and protect the Constitution.

The third branch of government is the federal judiciary. Its main instrument is the Supreme Court. A decision of the Supreme Court cannot be appealed to any other court. Neither the President nor Congress can change its decisions.

The USA has developed atwo-party system.The two leading parties are the Democrats and the Republicans. There are other parties besides these two; among them are the Communist party and several Socialist parties. You don’t need to be a member of political party to run in any election at any level of government. Also, people can simply declare themselves to be members of either of the two major parties when they register to vote in a district.

4 Find in the text the English equivalents to the following Russian words:

федеральная республика; власть; ветвь правительства; обязанности; делится на; верховный суд; избирать; представлять интересы штата; налоги; голоса избирателей; федеральный бюджет; постоянно изменялась; гражданин; принимать участие; голосовать

5 Give the Russian equivalents to the following English words and phrases:

checks and balances; each one having power; is made up of; two-year term; Inauguration; requirements; to preserve and protect; appeal; in accordance with; governmental officials

6 Answer the following questions:

1) What is the basic form of the US government?

2) What are the three branches of the US government?

3) What is the Congress?

4) What principle do all elections follow?

5) What are the powers and the duties of the Congress?

6) Who can become a president of the USA?

7) What does the president do at the ceremony of “Inauguration”?

8) What is the main instrument of the third branch of government?

9) How many parties are there in the USA?

10) Is it necessary to be a member of any party to run in election?

7 Complete the following statements:

1) The US government is based on……………………..

2) The federal government of the USA is divided into…………………….

3) Congress is made up of………………………

4) One third of the senators are………………………

5) Congress makes……………………..

6) The executive power belongs to…………………….

7) The president is elected by………………………

8) Neither the president nor Congress can change…………………….

9) Among the other political parties are…………………………..

10) ……………………… Washington on January 20 at noon.

8 Express agreement or disagreement with the following statements:

1) The USA is a constitutional monarchy.

2) The US Constitution is the oldest in the world.

3) The Constitution hasn’t been changed.

4) Congress decides upon taxes and sets the federal budget.

5) A decision of the Supreme Court can be appealed in some other courts.

6) There are two main parties in the USA – the Communist party and the Republican Party.

7) A special ceremony called “Inauguration” takes place in Washington on December 20 at noon.

8) It is not necessary to be a member of any political party to run in any election.

9 Retell the text.


1 Read and learn the following words:

higher [ˊhaiǝ] высший
collegiate [kǝˊli:dӡɪǝt] университетский, академический
private [ˊpraɪvǝt] частный
direct [dǝˊrekt] прямой
municipal [mjᴜˊnɪsɪpl] муниципальный
divide(d) [dɪˊvaɪd(ɪd)] делить(ся), разделять(ся)
philosophy [fǝˊlɒsǝfɪ] философия
medicine [ˊmedsn] медицина
Scholastic [skǝˊlӕstɪk] ученый, школьный
essay [ˊeseɪ] очерк, набросок
Bachelor’s Degree [ˊbӕtʃǝlǝz dɪˊgrɪ:] степень бакалавра
semester [sǝˊmestǝ] семестр
finals [ˊfaɪnlz] выпускные экзамены
determine(d) [dɪˊtᴈ:mɪnd] определять, решать(ся)

2 Read the words in the bold types. Pay attention to the pronunciation and the stress. Translate them into Russian.

3 Read and translate the text.

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