History UsefulNotes / AmericanPoliticalSystem

28th Feb '17 7:00:15 PM nombretomado
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On those occasions when a loser of the ''popular'' election gains office through this process -- thankfully rare, but it's happened four times: in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000 -- many Americans become confused and outraged. Newspapers and TV news are required to run articles explaining this all again for about two weeks, at which point it is promptly forgotten by Americans who have since moved on to something else outrageously confusing, like why all the rich celebrities are ending up in rehab all the time.

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On those occasions when a loser of the ''popular'' election gains office through this process -- thankfully rare, but it's happened four five times: in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 1888, 2000 and 2016 -- many Americans become confused and outraged. Newspapers and TV news are required to run articles explaining this all again for about two weeks, at which point it is promptly forgotten by Americans who have since moved on to something else outrageously confusing, like why all the rich celebrities are ending up in rehab all the time.
9th Feb '17 4:40:51 PM Madrugada
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The only two Presidents that have actually been challenged in any way under the terms of eligibility to date are Barack Obama and Chester A. Arthur. Challengers to Obama claim that he was actually born in Kenya, and that his Hawaiian birth certificate and newspaper birth announcements were forgeries, no doubt by the same people who orchestrated the Area 51 coverup.[[note]]Even if it were true, he would still be a natural-born US citizen on account of his mother being one, and while he was born after that law took effect, under the statutes of the time he was born he only needed to live in the US for a few years to be considered a natural-born US citizen, which his academic record more than verifies.[[/note]] It didn't help the issue that in some (but by no means all, or even half) of the 50 states, it is illegal to access someone's birth certificate (other than one's own or in the case of a legal guardian) without a court order, and Hawaii is one of them. President Obama originally chose to ignore the allegations, likely perceiving them of beneath his attention, but eventually got so annoyed that he released his long-form birth certificate, then splashed it on a mug with the slogan "Made in the USA" and killed UsefulNotes/OsamaBinLaden about two days later, which effectively shut up all but the noisiest of the "birther theorists." (UsefulNotes/DonaldTrump was not among those shut up, which is highly entertaining to pretty much everyone who doesn't agree with him.)

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The only two Presidents that have actually been challenged in any way under the terms of eligibility to date are Barack Obama and Chester A. Arthur. Challengers to Obama claim that he was actually born in Kenya, and that his Hawaiian birth certificate and newspaper birth announcements were forgeries, no doubt by the same people who orchestrated the Area 51 coverup.[[note]]Even if it were true, he would still be a natural-born US citizen on account of his mother being one, and while he was born after that law took effect, under the statutes of the time he was born he only needed to live in the US for a few years to be considered a natural-born US citizen, which his academic record more than verifies.[[/note]] It didn't help the issue that in some (but by no means all, or even half) of the 50 states, it is illegal to access someone's birth certificate (other than one's own or in the case of a legal guardian) without a court order, and Hawaii is one of them. President Obama originally chose to ignore the allegations, likely perceiving them of beneath his attention, but eventually got so annoyed that he released his long-form birth certificate, then splashed it on a mug with the slogan "Made in the USA" and killed UsefulNotes/OsamaBinLaden about two days later, which effectively shut up all but the noisiest of the "birther theorists." (UsefulNotes/DonaldTrump was not among those shut up, which is highly entertaining to pretty much everyone who doesn't agree with him.)
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17th Jan '17 5:18:26 PM nombretomado
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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_Party_(United_States) Reform Party]]''' was a populist third party established in the wake of Texas billionaire Ross Perot's 1992 independent Presidential run, which won 19% of the popular vote and became the first Presidential campaign since 1912 that was seen as having been capable of winning an election. The Reform Party had its greatest success in 1998 when JesseVentura was elected governor of Minnesota, but it soon fell prey to infighting between three groups: the "old guard" Perot faction, the libertarian Ventura faction, and a Christian conservative wing led by former Republican candidate and pundit Pat Buchanan. The party collapsed in the wake of the 2000 election, where its nomination was won by Buchanan, and while there is still a national organization, the party no longer meaningfully exists as a national entity.

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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_Party_(United_States) Reform Party]]''' was a populist third party established in the wake of Texas billionaire Ross Perot's 1992 independent Presidential run, which won 19% of the popular vote and became the first Presidential campaign since 1912 that was seen as having been capable of winning an election. The Reform Party had its greatest success in 1998 when JesseVentura Wrestling/JesseVentura was elected governor of Minnesota, but it soon fell prey to infighting between three groups: the "old guard" Perot faction, the libertarian Ventura faction, and a Christian conservative wing led by former Republican candidate and pundit Pat Buchanan. The party collapsed in the wake of the 2000 election, where its nomination was won by Buchanan, and while there is still a national organization, the party no longer meaningfully exists as a national entity.
3rd Jan '17 12:58:47 PM nombretomado
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Seniority among an incoming class -- i.e. a group of newly elected Senators sworn in on the same day -- is determined first by length of prior service in the Senate, then by length of prior service in the House of Representatives, then by length of prior service as a governor, then by length of prior service in the state legislature, then by the state's overall population ranking. So of two Senators sworn in on the same day, both without any prior governmental service, the senator from the more populous state would be the senior. Whew!

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Seniority among an incoming class -- i.e. a group of newly elected Senators sworn in on the same day -- is determined first by length of prior former service in the Senate, then by length of prior service in the order as senator, vice president, House of Representatives, then by length of prior service as a member, cabinet secretary, governor, and then by length of prior service in the state legislature, then by the state's overall population ranking.population. So of two Senators sworn in on the same day, both without any prior governmental service, the senator from the more populous state would be the senior. Whew!
29th Dec '16 2:59:12 AM SeptimusHeap
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Just to mention, the Republican Party's rules are pretty much the same as far as this goes. The main differences are that they make far less use of caucuses and allocate delegates by winner-takes-all or by congressional district for many states, not proportionally to popular vote, and do not use the "superdelegate" system. There was once a time when Democrats didn't use superdelegates either, but after George [=McGovern=]'s disastrous run in 1972 -- in which he picked Sam Eagleton, who proved to have had psychiatric issues in the past (as well as later having been found to have made some controversial remarks about [=McGovern=] to the press), as his running mate -- and UsefulNotes/JimmyCarter's loss to UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan in 1980, they added this feature as a safeguard.

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Just to mention, the Republican Party's rules are pretty much the same as far as this goes. The main differences are that they make far less use of caucuses and allocate delegates by winner-takes-all or by congressional district for many states, not proportionally to popular vote, and do not use the "superdelegate" system. There was once a time when Democrats didn't use superdelegates either, but after George [=McGovern=]'s disastrous run in 1972 -- in which he picked Sam Thomas Eagleton, who proved to have had psychiatric issues in the past (as well as later having been found to have made some controversial remarks about [=McGovern=] to the press), as his running mate -- and UsefulNotes/JimmyCarter's loss to UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan in 1980, they added this feature as a safeguard.
11th Aug '16 11:16:44 PM TomWalpertac2
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** Joe Biden might also have been picked for this reason, as despite his serious case of foot-in-mouth disease, he had run two (kind of half-hearted) campaigns for President (in 1988 and 2008) and was seen as something of an elder statesman in the Democratic Party.

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** Joe Biden might also have been picked for this reason, as despite his serious case of [[OpenMouthInsertFoot foot-in-mouth disease, disease]], he had run two (kind of half-hearted) campaigns for President (in 1988 and 2008) and was seen as something of an elder statesman in the Democratic Party.
11th Aug '16 11:01:31 PM TomWalpertac2
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The Vice President, in contrast, has little authority and more often functions as a government spokesman. He has the cushiest job in the world because he has ''absolutely nothing to do'' unless one of two things fails: the President's heartbeat, and the Senate. To be more precise, he officially has two jobs. The first is basically to sit around and wait for the President of the United States to drop dead; the second is to act as President of the Senate with nothing to do and no right to vote, except cast a tie-breaking vote if there is a deadlock.

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The Vice President, in contrast, has little authority and more often functions as a government spokesman. He has the cushiest job in the world because he has ''absolutely nothing to do'' unless one of two things fails: the President's heartbeat, and the Senate. To be more precise, he officially has two jobs. The first is basically to sit around and wait for the President of the United States to drop dead; dead (or otherwise become incapable of carrying out the duties of the office of president); the second is to act as President of the Senate with nothing to do and no right to vote, except cast a tie-breaking vote if there is a deadlock.
25th Jul '16 9:38:47 AM AllenbysEyes88
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* The '''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Party Federalist Party]]''' existed from 1789 until 1816. Formed by UsefulNotes/AlexanderHamilton, it argued for a strong central government, free trade, and close ties to Great Britain. Though they dominated American politics in the 1790s, electing UsefulNotes/JohnAdams to the presidency in 1796, the Federalists were seen as the party of elitist Northern businessmen, limiting their national appeal. Backlash over the Alien and Sedition Acts, the feud between Adams and Hamilton during the 1800 election, Hamilton's death in 1804, and the lead-in to the UsefulNotes/WarOf1812 marginalized the Federalists; by the final years of their existence, they were a regional party restricted to New York and New England. After the 1816 election, the Federalists ceased to exist.

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* The '''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Party Federalist Party]]''' existed from 1789 until 1816. Formed by UsefulNotes/AlexanderHamilton, it argued for a strong central government, free trade, and close ties to Great Britain. Though they dominated American politics in the 1790s, electing UsefulNotes/JohnAdams to the presidency in 1796, the Federalists were seen as the party of elitist Northern businessmen, limiting their national appeal.appeal (though they did, for a time, enjoy significant support in South Carolina). Backlash over the Alien and Sedition Acts, the feud between Adams and Hamilton during the 1800 election, Hamilton's death in 1804, and the lead-in to the UsefulNotes/WarOf1812 marginalized the Federalists; by the final years of their existence, they were a regional party restricted to New York and New England. After the 1816 election, the Federalists ceased to exist.
25th Jul '16 6:58:27 AM TheRedRedKroovy
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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_(United_States) Democratic Party]]''' is traditionally viewed as being center-left, although in most Western countries, they would be considered centrist or tepidly social-democratic. Somewhat socially liberal and fiscally left-wing (although they have a small fiscally conservative contingent). Strong in urban areas, the Northeast, and the West Coast, and among minorities, youth, and poor-to-working class voters. They currently hold the [[UsefulNotes/BarackObama Presidency]].

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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_(United_States) Democratic Party]]''' is traditionally viewed as being center-left, although in most Western countries, they would be considered centrist or tepidly social-democratic. Somewhat socially liberal and fiscally left-wing (although they have a small fiscally conservative contingent).contingent, most famously represented by UsefulNotes/BillClinton). Strong in urban areas, the Northeast, and the West Coast, and among minorities, youth, and poor-to-working class voters. They currently hold the [[UsefulNotes/BarackObama Presidency]].



These definitions apply to the current time; the Democrats used to be the party of white landowners and former slaveholders in the South, but lost their support -- and several legislators -- due to the Civil Rights Acts, and Nixon and Reagan both campaigned to disillusioned Southern voters. Conversely, the Democrats picked up African-Americans because ''they'' were disillusioned by the Republican "Southern Strategy". The Republicans were established from the remains of the leftist Whig Party, and it used to be even worse-- for a good 30-year period, both parties had right and left wings, which ended shortly before UsefulNotes/WorldWarI.

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These definitions apply to the current time; time. From the Civil War until shortly before UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, both parties had left and right wings -- the Republicans were established from the remains of the leftist Whig Party and were originally a coalition between industrial interests, left-wing moral reformers, and black Southerners who viewed the GOP as the "party of Lincoln", while the Democrats used to be the party of a coalition between Northern labor and white ethnic communities on one hand and white landowners and former slaveholders in the South, but lost South on the other, the latter ''also'' [[StillFightingTheCivilWar viewing the GOP as the "party of Lincoln"]]. UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt's "New Deal coalition" during UsefulNotes/TheGreatDepression helped to pull the progressives into the Democratic fold, and also saw the party start making inroads into the African American community. However, in time this cost the Democrats their white Southern support -- and several legislators -- due to the Civil Rights Acts, Acts in TheSixties, and Nixon and Reagan both campaigned to disillusioned Southern voters. Conversely, the Democrats picked up African-Americans established a virtual lock on the African-American vote because ''they'' were disillusioned by the Republican "Southern Strategy". The Republicans were established from the remains of the leftist Whig Party, and it used to be even worse-- for a good 30-year period, both parties had right and left wings, which ended shortly before UsefulNotes/WorldWarI.
party layout described above finally crystallized in TheEighties.



* The '''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Party Federalist Party]]''' existed from 1789 until 1816. Formed by UsefulNotes/AlexanderHamilton, it argued for a strong central government, free trade and close ties to Great Britain. Though they dominated American politics in the 1790s, electing UsefulNotes/JohnAdams to the presidency in 1796, the Federalists were seen as the party of elitist Northern businessmen, limiting their national appeal. Backlash over the Alien and Sedition Acts, the feud between Adams and Hamilton during the 1800 election, Hamilton's death in 1804 and the lead-in to the UsefulNotes/WarOf1812 marginalized the Federalists; by the final years of their existence, they were restricted to New York and New England. After the 1816 election, the Federalists ceased to exist.

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* The '''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Party Federalist Party]]''' existed from 1789 until 1816. Formed by UsefulNotes/AlexanderHamilton, it argued for a strong central government, free trade trade, and close ties to Great Britain. Though they dominated American politics in the 1790s, electing UsefulNotes/JohnAdams to the presidency in 1796, the Federalists were seen as the party of elitist Northern businessmen, limiting their national appeal. Backlash over the Alien and Sedition Acts, the feud between Adams and Hamilton during the 1800 election, Hamilton's death in 1804 1804, and the lead-in to the UsefulNotes/WarOf1812 marginalized the Federalists; by the final years of their existence, they were a regional party restricted to New York and New England. After the 1816 election, the Federalists ceased to exist.



* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_Movement Tea Party]]''', despite its name, is not a political party ''per se'', but rather, is a right-wing populist movement centered on the Republican Party. It is primarily composed of conservative, Christian, upper-middle-class citizens, and it had its genesis in early 2009, when CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli went on [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp-Jw-5Kx8k a rant]] on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange attacking UsefulNotes/BarackObama's bailout of homeowners facing foreclosure. Some would argue it started with UsefulNotes/RonPaul's Presidential campaign in 2007-08, but although he has a faction in the modern Tea Party, it appears that the majority are closer to mainline conservative Republican ideology than the anti-interventionist, staunch libertarian Paul. Their name is a reference to the Boston Tea Party, one of many protests by colonial Americans against the Tea Act passed by the British Parliament in 1773.\\

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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_Movement Tea Party]]''', despite its name, is not a political party ''per se'', but rather, is a right-wing populist movement centered on the Republican Party. It is primarily composed of conservative, Christian, upper-middle-class nationalist, middle-class citizens, and it had its genesis in early 2009, when CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli went on [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp-Jw-5Kx8k a rant]] on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange attacking UsefulNotes/BarackObama's bailout of homeowners facing foreclosure. Some would argue it started with UsefulNotes/RonPaul's Presidential campaign in 2007-08, but although he has a faction in the modern Tea Party, it appears that the majority are closer to mainline conservative Republican ideology than the anti-interventionist, staunch libertarian Paul. Their name is a reference to the Boston Tea Party, one of many protests by colonial Americans against the Tea Act passed by the British Parliament in 1773.\\



Their initial goals were largely libertarian and financial in nature, including smaller government, lower taxes, states' rights, and opposition to the bailouts and growing government spending (especially deficit spending), but the specific goals of its constituent groups greatly broadened the movement's focus; in particular, illegal immigration, family values and opposition to "Global Warming" climate change legislation have been taken up as additional planks by many local and regional groups. A few politicians, such as UsefulNotes/SarahPalin, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann, frequently speak at Tea Party events and are considered by outsiders as the public face of the group, but various groups remain and have no unified official leader. This has been problematic, though less than usual in such cases. Since the Tea Party and the issues it champions are hot-button subjects within the United States.

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Their initial goals were largely libertarian and financial in nature, including smaller government, lower taxes, states' rights, and opposition to the bailouts and growing government spending (especially deficit spending), but the specific goals of its constituent groups greatly broadened the movement's focus; in particular, illegal immigration, family values values, and opposition to "Global Warming" climate change legislation have been taken up as additional planks by many local and regional groups. A few politicians, such as UsefulNotes/SarahPalin, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz Cruz, and Michele Bachmann, frequently speak at Tea Party events and are considered by outsiders as the public face of the group, but various groups remain and have no unified official leader. This has been problematic, though less than usual in such cases. Since Their relationship with the Tea Party Republican establishment is fraught; they helped drive the nomination of UsefulNotes/DonaldTrump as the Republicans' Presidential candidate in 2016, despite fierce opposition by the moderate and business wings of the issues it champions are hot-button subjects party, with Trump's candidacy helping to activate a protectionist, anti-free trade streak within the United States.
movement.
29th Jun '16 5:23:17 PM Chytus
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The United States is a [[AmericanFederalism federal]] republic consisting principally of [[UsefulNotes/TheSeveralStates 50 states]] and the District of Columbia, which is made up entirely of one city, UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC. It's often called simply "DC" in common usage and is the seat of the federal government.

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The United States is a [[AmericanFederalism [[UsefulNotes/AmericanFederalism federal]] republic consisting principally of [[UsefulNotes/TheSeveralStates 50 states]] and the District of Columbia, which is made up entirely of one city, UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC. It's often called simply "DC" in common usage and is the seat of the federal government.



Unlike many other nations, the US has had precisely one written constitution since independence in 1776,[[note]]The [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution Articles of Confederation]] were a wash and don't count[[/note]] which is referred to simply as "the Constitution". This makes it the second-oldest written national constitution still in effect,[[note]]The oldest is the constitution of UsefulNotes/SanMarino, which went into effect in 1600[[/note]] and the third-oldest still in effect overall.[[note]]The Constitution of Massachusetts, drafted by JohnAdams, SamuelAdams, and James Bowdoin, went into effect in 1780 and had significant influence on the federal one.[[/note]] The Constitution defines itself as "the supreme law of the land", and all other statutes and acts of government must defer to it or be rendered null and void. Since its drafting, the US Constitution has served as an inspiration for many other written constitutions around the globe, and, indeed, it was the [=USA=] that popularized the codified constitution - of the nations of the world, only UsefulNotes/{{Britain}}, New Zealand, and UsefulNotes/{{Israel}} have uncodified constitutions, something which law students from those countries continue to bitterly lament come finals time.

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Unlike many other nations, the US has had precisely one written constitution since independence in 1776,[[note]]The [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution Articles of Confederation]] were a wash and don't count[[/note]] which is referred to simply as "the Constitution". This makes it the second-oldest written national constitution still in effect,[[note]]The oldest is the constitution of UsefulNotes/SanMarino, which went into effect in 1600[[/note]] and the third-oldest still in effect overall.[[note]]The Constitution of Massachusetts, drafted by JohnAdams, SamuelAdams, UsefulNotes/JohnAdams, UsefulNotes/SamuelAdams, and James Bowdoin, went into effect in 1780 and had significant influence on the federal one.[[/note]] The Constitution defines itself as "the supreme law of the land", and all other statutes and acts of government must defer to it or be rendered null and void. Since its drafting, the US Constitution has served as an inspiration for many other written constitutions around the globe, and, indeed, it was the [=USA=] that popularized the codified constitution - of the nations of the world, only UsefulNotes/{{Britain}}, New Zealand, and UsefulNotes/{{Israel}} have uncodified constitutions, something which law students from those countries continue to bitterly lament come finals time.



Unofficially, however, the vice president does have more important work to do. In general, there are three kinds of veep: the advisor/enforcer, the ticket-balancer, and the consolation prize, or as [[{{MSNBC}} Chris Matthews]] has called them, the January[[note]]To help when the new President starts governing[[/note]], the November[[note]]To help win votes in the general election[[/note]], and the August[[note]]To shore up a weak candidate with the party's base going into the convention[[/note]].

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Unofficially, however, the vice president does have more important work to do. In general, there are three kinds of veep: the advisor/enforcer, the ticket-balancer, and the consolation prize, or as [[{{MSNBC}} [[Creator/{{MSNBC}} Chris Matthews]] has called them, the January[[note]]To help when the new President starts governing[[/note]], the November[[note]]To help win votes in the general election[[/note]], and the August[[note]]To shore up a weak candidate with the party's base going into the convention[[/note]].



The only major-party Vice Presidential candidates since 1948[[note]]The first post-WWII presidential election[[/note]] who had neither served in Congress nor held high-level executive-branch positions were UsefulNotes/SarahPalin (Governor of UsefulNotes/{{Alaska}}), Spiro Agnew (Governor of Maryland), and Earl Warren (Governor of UsefulNotes/{{California}}). Almost all the rest have been sitting members of Congress (usually Senators); the exceptions are Sargent Shriver[[note]]Held several appointed executive positions and was in private legal practice in DC when nominated; also brother-in-law of Democratic icon UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy.[[/note]], GeorgeHWBush[[note]]A former Congressman from Texas, Ambassador to the UnitedNations, "Ambassador" to the [[RedChina People's Republic of China]] (technically, he was "Chief of the Liaison Office", but this was during the transition period from full US recognition of the ROC to full US recognition of the PRC under Nixon, Ford, and Carter), and [[{{CIA}} Director of Central Intelligence]], and was in private business and academia when nominated.[[/note]], and Dick Cheney[[note]]He had been the Congressman from Wyoming and House Minority Whip, White House Chief of Staff under Ford, and Secretary of Defense under Papa Bush, and was running Halliburton when nominated.[[/note]].\\

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The only major-party Vice Presidential candidates since 1948[[note]]The first post-WWII presidential election[[/note]] who had neither served in Congress nor held high-level executive-branch positions were UsefulNotes/SarahPalin (Governor of UsefulNotes/{{Alaska}}), Spiro Agnew (Governor of Maryland), and Earl Warren (Governor of UsefulNotes/{{California}}). Almost all the rest have been sitting members of Congress (usually Senators); the exceptions are Sargent Shriver[[note]]Held several appointed executive positions and was in private legal practice in DC when nominated; also brother-in-law of Democratic icon UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy.[[/note]], GeorgeHWBush[[note]]A UsefulNotes/GeorgeHWBush[[note]]A former Congressman from Texas, Ambassador to the UnitedNations, UsefulNotes/UnitedNations, "Ambassador" to the [[RedChina People's Republic of China]] (technically, he was "Chief of the Liaison Office", but this was during the transition period from full US recognition of the ROC to full US recognition of the PRC under Nixon, Ford, and Carter), and [[{{CIA}} Director of Central Intelligence]], and was in private business and academia when nominated.[[/note]], and Dick Cheney[[note]]He had been the Congressman from Wyoming and House Minority Whip, White House Chief of Staff under Ford, and Secretary of Defense under Papa Bush, and was running Halliburton when nominated.[[/note]].\\



JohnAdams, the very first vice president, described his office as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." John Nance Garner, UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt's first Vice President, was more direct, describing the vice presidency as "not worth a bucket of warm piss". (Ironically, FDR is one of the few presidents to have died in office, although Roosevelt had ditched Garner long before.)

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JohnAdams, UsefulNotes/JohnAdams, the very first vice president, described his office as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." John Nance Garner, UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt's first Vice President, was more direct, describing the vice presidency as "not worth a bucket of warm piss". (Ironically, FDR is one of the few presidents to have died in office, although Roosevelt had ditched Garner long before.)



A small side-note. Some Americans believe in the so-called Twenty Year Curse, also known as Tecumseh's Curse or the Curse of Tippecanoe, that affects the Presidency and has existed since 1840 (though it was first popularized in 1931 by ''RipleysBelieveItOrNot''). Basically, with the exception of UsefulNotes/ZacharyTaylor (who died in 1850), every President who has died in office was elected in a year divisible by twenty.

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A small side-note. Some Americans believe in the so-called Twenty Year Curse, also known as Tecumseh's Curse or the Curse of Tippecanoe, that affects the Presidency and has existed since 1840 (though it was first popularized in 1931 by ''RipleysBelieveItOrNot'').''Franchise/RipleysBelieveItOrNot''). Basically, with the exception of UsefulNotes/ZacharyTaylor (who died in 1850), every President who has died in office was elected in a year divisible by twenty.



On those occasions when a loser of the ''popular'' election gains office through this process -- thankfully rare, but it's happened four times: in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000 -- many Americans become confused and outraged. 1876 and 2000 were so close that the winner was undeclared until after Election Day. Newspapers and TV news are required to run articles explaining this all again for about two weeks, at which point it is promptly forgotten by Americans who have since moved on to something else outrageously confusing, like why all the rich celebrities are ending up in rehab all the time.

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On those occasions when a loser of the ''popular'' election gains office through this process -- thankfully rare, but it's happened four times: in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000 -- many Americans become confused and outraged. 1876 and 2000 were so close that the winner was undeclared until after Election Day. Newspapers and TV news are required to run articles explaining this all again for about two weeks, at which point it is promptly forgotten by Americans who have since moved on to something else outrageously confusing, like why all the rich celebrities are ending up in rehab all the time.



The ''Department of Defense'' ([=DoD=]), in the vernacular known as ThePentagon (named after the geometrical shape of its headquarters building), is so freaking large in comparison with the other departments that almost 80 percent of the federal workforce gets their paycheck from it, and that the Department of Defense is considered the single largest employer in the US (right ahead of UsefulNotes/{{Walmart}} and UsefulNotes/McDonalds.) The Office of the Secretary of Defense is the mainly civilian staff of the Secretary of Defense, and apart from the Honorable Mr. or Madam Secretary (who by the way must be a civilian to maintain the alibi of civilian control), there is 1 Deputy Secretary of Defense, 5 Under Secretaries of Defense, 14 Assistant Secretaries of Defense (all appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate); and a myriad of senior civil servants with titles like Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for whatever..., and Deputy Assistant Under Secretary of Defense for whichever…

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The ''Department of Defense'' ([=DoD=]), in the vernacular known as ThePentagon UsefulNotes/ThePentagon (named after the geometrical shape of its headquarters building), is so freaking large in comparison with the other departments that almost 80 percent of the federal workforce gets their paycheck from it, and that the Department of Defense is considered the single largest employer in the US (right ahead of UsefulNotes/{{Walmart}} and UsefulNotes/McDonalds.) The Office of the Secretary of Defense is the mainly civilian staff of the Secretary of Defense, and apart from the Honorable Mr. or Madam Secretary (who by the way must be a civilian to maintain the alibi of civilian control), there is 1 Deputy Secretary of Defense, 5 Under Secretaries of Defense, 14 Assistant Secretaries of Defense (all appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate); and a myriad of senior civil servants with titles like Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for whatever..., and Deputy Assistant Under Secretary of Defense for whichever…



Furthermore, Defense includes several large joint organizations (meaning that civilians and military personnel from all services participate) such as the [[{{NSA}} National Security Agency]] (the people who know that you’re reading this article), the National Reconnaissance Office (the people whose satellites can spot insects on your lawn), the Defense Logistics Agency (big bloated defense bureaucracy in action) and DARPA (mad scientists studying brain implants). For more on the stiff but nevertheless crazy world of the U.S. military see YanksWithTanks.

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Furthermore, Defense includes several large joint organizations (meaning that civilians and military personnel from all services participate) such as the [[{{NSA}} [[UsefulNotes/{{NSA}} National Security Agency]] (the people who know that you’re reading this article), the National Reconnaissance Office (the people whose satellites can spot insects on your lawn), the Defense Logistics Agency (big bloated defense bureaucracy in action) and DARPA (mad scientists studying brain implants). For more on the stiff but nevertheless crazy world of the U.S. military see YanksWithTanks.
UsefulNotes/YanksWithTanks.



-->-- ''[[SeventeenSeventySix 1776]]'', paraphrased from the historical Adams' writings

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-->-- ''[[SeventeenSeventySix 1776]]'', ''Theater/SeventeenSeventySix'', paraphrased from the historical Adams' writings



If Congress is adjourned, the bill does not become law, there being no Congress in Washington to return the bill to. The President can--and indeed usually does--do this intentionally, and it's known as a "pocket veto."[[note]]Notionally, the President puts the bill in his pocket and forgets about it.[[/note]] It's extremely useful for Presidents faced with a popular bill they don't want to sign, but can't be seen vetoing; this allows them to save face and say, "I didn't kill the bill; I merely allowed it to die." The format is also immune to overrides, so if Congress ''really'' wants to pass the bill, they have to go through the whole rigamarole ''again''.

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If Congress is adjourned, the bill does not become law, there being no Congress in Washington to return the bill to. The President can--and indeed usually does--do this intentionally, and it's known as a "pocket veto."[[note]]Notionally, the President puts the bill in his pocket and forgets about it.[[/note]] It's extremely useful for Presidents faced with a popular bill they don't want to sign, but can't be seen vetoing; this allows them to save face and say, "I didn't kill the bill; I merely allowed it to die." The format is also immune to overrides, so if Congress ''really'' wants to pass the bill, they have to go through the whole rigamarole rigmarole ''again''.



The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court and the lesser federal courts established under it. For details beyond what you'll find below, see AmericanCourts.

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The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court and the lesser federal courts established under it. For details beyond what you'll find below, see AmericanCourts.
UsefulNotes/AmericanCourts.



Please note, however, that this was something most of the Founders could see coming, on account of America's legal tradition, TheCommonLaw inherited from England. Interpretation of statutes has always been within the purview of common-law courts, and on the logic that the Constitution is a super-statute, the Court took it upon itself to interpret it as well (the decision in ''Marbury'' v. ''Madison'' makes this point). ''Stare decisis''[[note]]The rule that once a judicial decision is made, it stands forever[[/note]] is part and parcel of the common-law system, as anyone who knows anything about English (or Canadian or Australian or...) law can tell you. However, two features make the American version of ''stare decisis'' interesting:

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Please note, however, that this was something most of the Founders could see coming, on account of America's legal tradition, TheCommonLaw UsefulNotes/TheCommonLaw inherited from England. Interpretation of statutes has always been within the purview of common-law courts, and on the logic that the Constitution is a super-statute, the Court took it upon itself to interpret it as well (the decision in ''Marbury'' v. ''Madison'' makes this point). ''Stare decisis''[[note]]The rule that once a judicial decision is made, it stands forever[[/note]] is part and parcel of the common-law system, as anyone who knows anything about English (or Canadian or Australian or...) law can tell you. However, two features make the American version of ''stare decisis'' interesting:



There are also [[AmericanEducationalSystem elected school boards]] that operate local schools independent of any government in much of the country, as well as independent Fire Department districts, waste management departments, parks & recreation bureaus, and other special districts or government corporations providing services, but describing all of them would make this article even more complicated than it is.

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There are also [[AmericanEducationalSystem [[UsefulNotes/AmericanEducationalSystem elected school boards]] that operate local schools independent of any government in much of the country, as well as independent Fire Department districts, waste management departments, parks & recreation bureaus, and other special districts or government corporations providing services, but describing all of them would make this article even more complicated than it is.



* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whig_Party_%28United_States%29 Whig Party]]''' were the primary opposition party to Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party from the early 1830s to the late 1850s. To vastly oversimplify: on the issue of who should have greater power, the President or the Congress, the Democrats favored the former while the Whigs favored the latter. Managed to win the presidency twice, both times by men who would later die in office: WilliamHenryHarrison in 1840 (succeeded by vice president UsefulNotes/JohnTyler), and then UsefulNotes/ZacharyTaylor in 1848 (succeeded by vice president MillardFillmore). As slavery became a bigger issue in the late 1850s, the Whig party essentially self-destructed due to internal disagreement on the subject. Most Whigs in the North (such as UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln, who had been a Whig congressman from Illinois from 1847-1849) joined the then-fledgling Republican Party, and those in the South gravitated either to the American Party (see below) or the Constitutional Union party.

Both parties tend to have their own core of rich and elite constituencies and support from industries that provide much of the financial backing for each, though the degree to which each party is the "party of (insert your favorite evil industry here)" is typically hyped-up by the other party. The Republicans tend to garner support from small- to medium-business owners, oil and gas corporations, manufacturing corporations, construction and contracting businesses, and most of the financial sector. The Democrats, meanwhile, are supported by lawyers and law firms, entertainment and technology companies (i.e. UsefulNotes/{{Hollywood}} and Silicon Valley), [[AmericanEducationalSystem higher education]], K-12 public school teachrs, labor unions, and a smaller share of the financial industry. Most major industries and corporations, though, tend to spread their campaign contributions around, typically to incumbents, on the basis of not wanting to anger one side or another and to curry favor with whoever might be in office at the time. The influence of campaign money in politics is a ''very'' controversial issue in the United States, and promises to become even more so after the 2010 ''Citizens United v. FEC'' Supreme Court decision.

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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whig_Party_%28United_States%29 Whig Party]]''' were the primary opposition party to Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party from the early 1830s to the late 1850s. To vastly oversimplify: on the issue of who should have greater power, the President or the Congress, the Democrats favored the former while the Whigs favored the latter. Managed to win the presidency twice, both times by men who would later die in office: WilliamHenryHarrison UsefulNotes/WilliamHenryHarrison in 1840 (succeeded by vice president UsefulNotes/JohnTyler), and then UsefulNotes/ZacharyTaylor in 1848 (succeeded by vice president MillardFillmore).UsefulNotes/MillardFillmore). As slavery became a bigger issue in the late 1850s, the Whig party essentially self-destructed due to internal disagreement on the subject. Most Whigs in the North (such as UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln, who had been a Whig congressman from Illinois from 1847-1849) joined the then-fledgling Republican Party, and those in the South gravitated either to the American Party (see below) or the Constitutional Union party.

Both parties tend to have their own core of rich and elite constituencies and support from industries that provide much of the financial backing for each, though the degree to which each party is the "party of (insert your favorite evil industry here)" is typically hyped-up by the other party. The Republicans tend to garner support from small- to medium-business owners, oil and gas corporations, manufacturing corporations, construction and contracting businesses, and most of the financial sector. The Democrats, meanwhile, are supported by lawyers and law firms, entertainment and technology companies (i.e. UsefulNotes/{{Hollywood}} and Silicon Valley), [[AmericanEducationalSystem [[UsefulNotes/AmericanEducationalSystem higher education]], K-12 public school teachrs, teachers, labor unions, and a smaller share of the financial industry. Most major industries and corporations, though, tend to spread their campaign contributions around, typically to incumbents, on the basis of not wanting to anger one side or another and to curry favor with whoever might be in office at the time. The influence of campaign money in politics is a ''very'' controversial issue in the United States, and promises to become even more so after the 2010 ''Citizens United v. FEC'' Supreme Court decision.



* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Party_(United_States) Constitution Party]]''' is a "paleoconservative" party, which means that, while they have very right-wing views on taxes, spending and social/cultural issues[[note]]They oppose immigration, welfare and the income tax, support gun rights, states' rights and anti-federalism, and take a generally fundamentalist Christian stance on issues like homosexuality, abortion, gambling and pornography. Their anti-abortion position is a big enough issue that debates over whether to allow for abortions in the event of rape, incest and the health of the mother created a schism that saw several state affiliates break away.[[/note]] and an explicit rooting of their beliefs in Christianity, they also break from modern mainstream conservatism by opposing free trade in favor of a protectionist/mercantilist trade policy, as well as supporting a foreign policy of noninterventionism and a reduced role in world affairs, including repeal of the Patriot Act and withdrawal from the [[UnitedNations UN]], the World Bank and the IMF.

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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Party_(United_States) Constitution Party]]''' is a "paleoconservative" party, which means that, while they have very right-wing views on taxes, spending and social/cultural issues[[note]]They oppose immigration, welfare and the income tax, support gun rights, states' rights and anti-federalism, and take a generally fundamentalist Christian stance on issues like homosexuality, abortion, gambling and pornography. Their anti-abortion position is a big enough issue that debates over whether to allow for abortions in the event of rape, incest and the health of the mother created a schism that saw several state affiliates break away.[[/note]] and an explicit rooting of their beliefs in Christianity, they also break from modern mainstream conservatism by opposing free trade in favor of a protectionist/mercantilist trade policy, as well as supporting a foreign policy of noninterventionism and a reduced role in world affairs, including repeal of the Patriot Act and withdrawal from the [[UnitedNations [[UsefulNotes/UnitedNations UN]], the World Bank and the IMF.



Their initial goals were largely libertarian and financial in nature, including smaller government, lower taxes, states' rights, and opposition to the bailouts and growing government spending (especially deficit spending), but the specific goals of its constituent groups greatly broadened the movement's focus; in particular, illegal immigration, family values and opposition to "Global Warming" climate change legislation have been taken up as additional planks by many local and regional groups. A few politicians, such as SarahPalin, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann, frequently speak at Tea Party events and are considered by outsiders as the public face of the group, but various groups remain and have no unified official leader. This has been problematic, though less than usual in such cases. Since the Tea Party and the issues it champions are hot-button subjects within the United States.

to:

Their initial goals were largely libertarian and financial in nature, including smaller government, lower taxes, states' rights, and opposition to the bailouts and growing government spending (especially deficit spending), but the specific goals of its constituent groups greatly broadened the movement's focus; in particular, illegal immigration, family values and opposition to "Global Warming" climate change legislation have been taken up as additional planks by many local and regional groups. A few politicians, such as SarahPalin, UsefulNotes/SarahPalin, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann, frequently speak at Tea Party events and are considered by outsiders as the public face of the group, but various groups remain and have no unified official leader. This has been problematic, though less than usual in such cases. Since the Tea Party and the issues it champions are hot-button subjects within the United States.



* There have been three '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party#North_America Progressive Parties]]''', of which the most-well known is the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party_(United_States,_1912) 1912 edition]], also known as the '''Bull Moose Party''', a vehicle for former President UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt's 1912 Presidential run.[[note]]The other two were also candidate-driven; the 1924 edition was an electoral vehicle for Wisconsin Governor Robert M. La Follette, and continued for some time afterwards, primarily in Wisconsin and the Great Plains. The 1948 edition, meanwhile, was created by Henry Wallace as a left-wing challenge to Democratic President HarryTruman.[[/note]] The Progressive Party was the culmination of the progressive movement, which called for broad-reaching social reforms for America's working classes, including a pension system, income taxes, women's suffrage, farm relief, the right of labor to organize, and expanded access to health care. Despite its short life, the Progressive Party is notable for being the only third party to beat one of the major parties in a Presidential election.
* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Party_of_America Socialist Party of America]]''' existed from 1901 until 1972, and enjoyed its greatest success in the early 20th century, proving that, no, socialism was ''not'' always a four-letter word in the US. In the elections of 1912 and 1920, the Socialists won over 900,000 votes with their candidate Eugene V. Debs (keeping in mind that, in the latter case, he was ''in prison''). They had particular success in local government, electing several mayors; UsefulNotes/{{Milwaukee}} in particular elected three Socialist mayors over the course of fifty years, the last one only leaving office in 1960. They endorsed Robert La Follette in 1924 and continued to build support in the 1920s, but their support was undercut by [[UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt FDR's]] New Deal during TheGreatDepression. After [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the war]], anti-Communist fears caused the Socialist Party to fade away, and today, three groups claim the heritage of Debs's party: The Democratic Socialists of America and the Social Democrats USA agreed to focus on supporting the left wing of the Democratic party rather than running their own candidates, but disagreed on the VietnamWar, while the Socialist Party USA continues to advance Socialist candidates outside of the two-party system.

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* There have been three '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party#North_America Progressive Parties]]''', of which the most-well known is the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party_(United_States,_1912) 1912 edition]], also known as the '''Bull Moose Party''', a vehicle for former President UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt's 1912 Presidential run.[[note]]The other two were also candidate-driven; the 1924 edition was an electoral vehicle for Wisconsin Governor Robert M. La Follette, and continued for some time afterwards, primarily in Wisconsin and the Great Plains. The 1948 edition, meanwhile, was created by Henry Wallace as a left-wing challenge to Democratic President HarryTruman.UsefulNotes/HarryTruman.[[/note]] The Progressive Party was the culmination of the progressive movement, which called for broad-reaching social reforms for America's working classes, including a pension system, income taxes, women's suffrage, farm relief, the right of labor to organize, and expanded access to health care. Despite its short life, the Progressive Party is notable for being the only third party to beat one of the major parties in a Presidential election.
* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Party_of_America Socialist Party of America]]''' existed from 1901 until 1972, and enjoyed its greatest success in the early 20th century, proving that, no, socialism was ''not'' always a four-letter word in the US. In the elections of 1912 and 1920, the Socialists won over 900,000 votes with their candidate Eugene V. Debs (keeping in mind that, in the latter case, he was ''in prison''). They had particular success in local government, electing several mayors; UsefulNotes/{{Milwaukee}} in particular elected three Socialist mayors over the course of fifty years, the last one only leaving office in 1960. They endorsed Robert La Follette in 1924 and continued to build support in the 1920s, but their support was undercut by [[UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt FDR's]] New Deal during TheGreatDepression. After [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the war]], anti-Communist fears caused the Socialist Party to fade away, and today, three groups claim the heritage of Debs's party: The Democratic Socialists of America and the Social Democrats USA agreed to focus on supporting the left wing of the Democratic party rather than running their own candidates, but disagreed on the VietnamWar, UsefulNotes/VietnamWar, while the Socialist Party USA continues to advance Socialist candidates outside of the two-party system.



Just to mention, the Republican Party's rules are pretty much the same as far as this goes. The main differences are that they make far less use of caucuses and allocate delegates by winner-takes-all or by congressional district for many states, not proportionally to popular vote, and do not use the "superdelegate" system. There was once a time when Democrats didn't use superdelegates either, but after George [=McGovern=]'s disastrous run in 1972 -- in which he picked Sam Eagleton, who proved to have had psychiatric issues in the past (as well as later having been found to have made some controversial remarks about [=McGovern=] to the press), as his running mate -- and JimmyCarter's loss to UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan in 1980, they added this feature as a safeguard.

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Just to mention, the Republican Party's rules are pretty much the same as far as this goes. The main differences are that they make far less use of caucuses and allocate delegates by winner-takes-all or by congressional district for many states, not proportionally to popular vote, and do not use the "superdelegate" system. There was once a time when Democrats didn't use superdelegates either, but after George [=McGovern=]'s disastrous run in 1972 -- in which he picked Sam Eagleton, who proved to have had psychiatric issues in the past (as well as later having been found to have made some controversial remarks about [=McGovern=] to the press), as his running mate -- and JimmyCarter's UsefulNotes/JimmyCarter's loss to UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan in 1980, they added this feature as a safeguard.
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