C.O.R.C. Content

Branches of U.S. Government

The United States Constitution established three coequal branches of government: Legislative (make laws), Executive (carry out laws), and Judicial (interpret laws)

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of The United States

Political Parties

There is no mention of political parties in the U.S. Constitution. In fact, George Washington, one of the framers of the Constitution, was a fierce critic of political parties and distrusted them. 

Washington said in his Farewell Address in 1796: "However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."

How a Bill Becomes Law

"All laws in the United States begin as bills. Before a bill can become a law, it must be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and signed by the President."

Filibuster and Nuclear Option

The Filibuster and Nuclear Option are both parliamentary procedures that allow the  Senate to override a rule or delay a vote on a piece of legislation or kill it.

Principles of The Constitution

The United States Constitution embodies four underlying principles: Limited Government, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, and Federalism.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of The United States: “This country, and its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it . . . .

The Election Process

In the U.S., we use a two-step election process to determine the winner: Primary Election and General Election

Platforms and Planks

Both political parties are organized on all levels of government: national, state, and local. With the election of a president every four years, both parties hold a national convention to nominate a candidate for president and vice president. Agreeing upon the party’s platforms and planks is part of this process. 

State Government

State government is modeled after the federal (national) government and consist of the same three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. Every state except Nebraska is organized as a bicameral legislature, meaning they have two separate legislative chambers, House of Representatives (House of Delegates) and Senate.

We come in contact with state government when we . . .

  • obtain a driver's license or record,
  • register a vehicle,
  • obtain a birth or death certificate,
  • register a corporation or limited liability company,
  • play the lottery,
  • pay state income tax,
  • pay sales tax,
  • apply for unemployment compensation, and
  • apply for a professional license (such as attorney, pharmacist, chiropractor).

Commonwealth vs State

The United States has 50 states and 16 territories. Four states, as contained in their constitution, are called Commonwealths: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. However, there is no difference between the commonwealths and the other 46 states.

Local Government

Citizens come in contact with their local and state government more often than they do with the federal government.

We come in contact with local government when we . . .

  • engage police or sheriff department,
  • fire department,
  • check out a book at the library,
  • obtain a business license,
  • pay a parking ticket,
  • use the court system,
  • use a public swimming pool,
  • pay sales tax,
  • pay property tax,
  • vote in an election,
  • enroll a child in public school
  • picnic or kids play at a public park, to name a few

Sheriff represents local government but is not appointed to the position by the government. Instead he or she is duly elected by the people and answerable to the people. However, a sheriff can be removed from office by the governor for   

dereliction of duty. A District Attorney is most commonly elected and not appointed by local government, and answerable to the people. However, the Chief of Police is appointed to the position and answerable to a local government.

Mayor is duly elected by the people to serve as head of local government and answerable to the people with veto power over the legislative branch (the council).

United States Territories

The U.S. Territories refer to a group of geographical areas in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. These territories fall under the jurisdiction of the United States federal government but do not hold the same status as the 50 states of the U.S. (e.g. they are not represented in the U.S. Congress). With varied histories, these territories often reflect a mix of American culture and different local cultures, providing a unique experience for international exchange participants.”

Attribution: https://www.interexchange.org/american-culture/us-territories/

The Bill of Rights

The are 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The first 10 amendments, ratified in 1791, written by James Madison are the Bill of Rights. These 10 Amendments give the states greater constitutional protection, protect individual liberties, and place limitations on the power of government.

Constitutional Amendments re Voting Rights

There are six Amendments to the U.S. Constitution that address who gets to vote other than white men. Amendments that granted voting rights to black men; to all women; voting rights to D.C. residents to vote in presidential elections; rights granting two senators per state; an  amendment that prohibited poll tax to vote, and an amendment that granted young adult citizens the right to vote at age 18.

2018 Election Calendar by Month and by State

If it's Tuesday, there is an election some where in America. It could be for sheriff, district attorney, mayor, city council members, U.S. congress or the president.

Register to Vote

The right to vote comes with a duty to vote. Voting is how citizens hold government accountable, and as citizens we have a duty to protect our democracy. Learn how to register to vote in your state.

Community Blog

C.O.R.C. is a teaching and learning site, your online resource community, and  posts to our blog is intended to educate, inform, inspire citizens to take ownership of their citizenship, to become active citizens, to exercise their duty to vote, get involved in your community.

Members can post upcoming events relative to the aim of C.O.R.C., personal stories of interactions with fellow citizens holding government accountable. Share their experience introducing your fellow citizens to C.O.R.C.

C.O.R.C. is not affiliated with any political party and we do not accept posts about any political candidate or party.

First you have to JOIN C.O.R.C. before you can post. Then read instructions how to SUBMIT BLOG POST before sending it to us.

Meaning of Lady Justice

Lady Justice, a blindfolded woman carrying a sword and a set of scales, symbolizes fair and equal administration of the law, without corruption, favor, greed, or prejudice. Continue reading to find out what the blindfold, sword, scales, book, snake symbolizes.