History UsefulNotes / AmericanPoliticalSystem

27th Nov '15 12:38:46 AM SeptimusHeap
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Per edit requests thread.
In addition, this was the reasoning behind the choices of the two women who have served as major-party Vice Presidential candidates: Walter Mondale's pick of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and John [=McCain's=] pick of SarahPalin in 2008. Ferraro was added to the Democratic ticket in '84 mainly to build support in the future; it was thought that Mondale's campaign against popular incumbent RonaldReagan was hopeless (and it ultimately was), so putting a woman on the ticket would help the Democrats curry favor with female voters in the future. Meanwhile, [=McCain=] was under pressure on both the left and the right. From the right, he had a reputation for being a very moderate Republican, so much so that many conservatives declared that they'd vote for UsefulNotes/HillaryRodhamClinton or a third party over him. From the left, [=McCain=] had the misfortune of being a stuffy old white guy running against [[UsefulNotes/BarackObama Barack "Hope and Change" Obama]], who himself had just emerged from a tough campaign against a Democratic rival who also wasn't an old white guy -- the aforementioned Hillary Clinton, who still had a large base of supporters in the party. It was thought that Palin, being both ultra-conservative and a woman, would solve both problems simultaneously.\\
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In addition, this was the reasoning behind the choices of the two women who have served as major-party Vice Presidential candidates: Walter Mondale's pick of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and John [=McCain's=] pick of SarahPalin in 2008. Ferraro was added to the Democratic ticket in '84 mainly to build support in the future; it was thought that Mondale's campaign against popular incumbent RonaldReagan UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan was hopeless (and it ultimately was), so putting a woman on the ticket would help the Democrats curry favor with female voters in the future. Meanwhile, [=McCain=] was under pressure on both the left and the right. From the right, he had a reputation for being a very moderate Republican, so much so that many conservatives declared that they'd vote for UsefulNotes/HillaryRodhamClinton or a third party over him. From the left, [=McCain=] had the misfortune of being a stuffy old white guy running against [[UsefulNotes/BarackObama Barack "Hope and Change" Obama]], who himself had just emerged from a tough campaign against a Democratic rival who also wasn't an old white guy -- the aforementioned Hillary Clinton, who still had a large base of supporters in the party. It was thought that Palin, being both ultra-conservative and a woman, would solve both problems simultaneously.\\

Cities can be combined with a county (like Denver and SanFrancisco), cross county lines (like Dallas, in five different counties), exist outside any county (like Baltimore, St. Louis, and all 'cities' in Virginia), or take up entire counties and merge with the county governments (UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity's five boroughs are five separate counties, none of which has an independent government). Many metropolitan areas cross state boundaries, but cities are always in the same state (Kansas City Missouri/Kansas is actually two separate cities, and Portland, [=OR=] forms a coterminous metropolitan area with Vancouver, [=WA=]).
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Cities can be combined with a county (like Denver and SanFrancisco), UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco), cross county lines (like Dallas, in five different counties), exist outside any county (like Baltimore, St. Louis, and all 'cities' in Virginia), or take up entire counties and merge with the county governments (UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity's five boroughs are five separate counties, none of which has an independent government). Many metropolitan areas cross state boundaries, but cities are always in the same state (Kansas City Missouri/Kansas is actually two separate cities, and Portland, [=OR=] forms a coterminous metropolitan area with Vancouver, [=WA=]).

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 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 loss to RonaldReagan UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan in 1980, they added this feature as a safeguard.
8th Nov '15 11:45:25 PM SeptimusHeap
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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Independent_Party American Independent Party]]''', another segregationist splinter from the Democrats, this time from 1968 and led by Alabama Governor George Wallace. The American Independents won 13.5% of the popular vote, 46 electoral votes and five Southern states. The success of Wallace's candidacy, combined with RichardNixon's "Southern strategy," marked the end of the once-Democratic "Solid South," which felt that the Democrats had betrayed the principles of white supremacy. While the AIP still exists, it does so solely as the California affiliate of the Constitution Party.
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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Independent_Party American Independent Party]]''', another segregationist splinter from the Democrats, this time from 1968 and led by Alabama Governor George Wallace. The American Independents won 13.5% of the popular vote, 46 electoral votes and five Southern states. The success of Wallace's candidacy, combined with RichardNixon's UsefulNotes/RichardNixon's "Southern strategy," marked the end of the once-Democratic "Solid South," which felt that the Democrats had betrayed the principles of white supremacy. While the AIP still exists, it does so solely as the California affiliate of the Constitution Party.
8th Sep '15 4:00:18 AM SeptimusHeap
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For an example of comparisons the states of Iowa (56 thousand square miles/2.9 million people), Kansas (82/2.6), Oklahoma (69/3.5) Nebraska (77/1.7), Minnesota (87/4.9), and Colorado (104/4.3) as a region have over 476,000 square miles and 19.9 million people. But this entire region obviously deserves considerably less attention and less resources than NewYorkCity, which has 468 square miles and 18.8 million people, even though New York has 1/1000 of the area and fewer people.
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For an example of comparisons the states of Iowa (56 thousand square miles/2.9 million people), Kansas (82/2.6), Oklahoma (69/3.5) Nebraska (77/1.7), Minnesota (87/4.9), and Colorado (104/4.3) as a region have over 476,000 square miles and 19.9 million people. But this entire region obviously deserves considerably less attention and less resources than NewYorkCity, UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity, which has 468 square miles and 18.8 million people, even though New York has 1/1000 of the area and fewer people.

Cities can be combined with a county (like Denver and SanFrancisco), cross county lines (like Dallas, in five different counties), exist outside any county (like Baltimore, St. Louis, and all 'cities' in Virginia), or take up entire counties and merge with the county governments (NewYorkCity's five boroughs are five separate counties, none of which has an independent government). Many metropolitan areas cross state boundaries, but cities are always in the same state (Kansas City Missouri/Kansas is actually two separate cities, and Portland, [=OR=] forms a coterminous metropolitan area with Vancouver, [=WA=]).
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Cities can be combined with a county (like Denver and SanFrancisco), cross county lines (like Dallas, in five different counties), exist outside any county (like Baltimore, St. Louis, and all 'cities' in Virginia), or take up entire counties and merge with the county governments (NewYorkCity's (UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity's five boroughs are five separate counties, none of which has an independent government). Many metropolitan areas cross state boundaries, but cities are always in the same state (Kansas City Missouri/Kansas is actually two separate cities, and Portland, [=OR=] forms a coterminous metropolitan area with Vancouver, [=WA=]).
1st Jul '15 7:49:53 AM SeptimusHeap
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Per edit requests thread.
The Secret Service designates one member of the line of succession the "Designated Survivor" to stay behind at any event where the entire line could be zapped, which is pretty much only the State of the Union Address (where the President, Vice President, both houses of Congress, the entire Cabinet, and the Supreme Court are all gathered together in a single building). It's always a minor Cabinet member, too. So yes, one night a year, there's a chance that [[Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined the Secretary of Education]] or the [[ComicBook/YTheLastMan Secretary of Agriculture]] could end up as President.
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The Secret Service designates one member of the line of succession the "Designated Survivor" to stay behind at any event where the entire line could be zapped, which is pretty much only the State of the Union Address (where the President, Vice President, both houses of Congress, the entire Cabinet, and the Supreme Court are all gathered together in a single building). It's always a minor Cabinet member, too. So yes, one night a year, there's a chance that [[Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined [[Series/BattlestarGalactica2003 the Secretary of Education]] or the [[ComicBook/YTheLastMan Secretary of Agriculture]] could end up as President.
24th Jun '15 2:24:40 AM SeptimusHeap
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Per edit requests thread.
The United States is a [[AmericanFederalism federal]] republic consisting principally of [[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 federal]] republic consisting principally of [[TheSeveralStates [[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.
15th Jun '15 10:49:51 AM Willbyr
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* The second kind has historically been the most common: the presidential candidate's running mate would be of a different region or ideological orientation from the candidate himself. So if the Democratic presidential candidate was a Northern liberal, you'd expect the running mate to be a Southern or Western moderate or conservative--or any combination of these terms. The classic example is LyndonJohnson, a pragmatic Protestant Texan specifically chosen to capture the Southern vote that JohnFKennedy as a liberal Catholic Yankee might not have gotten otherwise.\\
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* The second kind has historically been the most common: the presidential candidate's running mate would be of a different region or ideological orientation from the candidate himself. So if the Democratic presidential candidate was a Northern liberal, you'd expect the running mate to be a Southern or Western moderate or conservative--or any combination of these terms. The classic example is LyndonJohnson, a pragmatic Protestant Texan specifically chosen to capture the Southern vote that JohnFKennedy UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy as a liberal Catholic Yankee might not have gotten otherwise.\\

Historically, the president is a White Protestant, though not always. JohnFKennedy was Catholic, which was a big deal, and current president UsefulNotes/BarackObama has an African father, which is an even ''bigger'' deal. Historically, the President has also always been male, though fiction has delighted in depicting female presidents and the possibility is considered more-or-less inevitable by now. In fact, Hillary Clinton came ''very'' close to being chosen as the Democratic candidate for president in 2008, was more or less considered a lock for the position until Obama's rise to prominence, and is currently the Democratic front-runner for 2016. Both these generalizations apply equally well to the vice president (twice a woman has been a major party's nomination for veep, the Democrats first picking Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and the Republicans picking Sarah Palin in 2008; Joe Biden is the first Catholic VP; and HerbertHoover's VP Charles Curtis was 3/8ths Native American).
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Historically, the president is a White Protestant, though not always. JohnFKennedy UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy was Catholic, which was a big deal, and current president UsefulNotes/BarackObama has an African father, which is an even ''bigger'' deal. Historically, the President has also always been male, though fiction has delighted in depicting female presidents and the possibility is considered more-or-less inevitable by now. In fact, Hillary Clinton came ''very'' close to being chosen as the Democratic candidate for president in 2008, was more or less considered a lock for the position until Obama's rise to prominence, and is currently the Democratic front-runner for 2016. Both these generalizations apply equally well to the vice president (twice a woman has been a major party's nomination for veep, the Democrats first picking Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and the Republicans picking Sarah Palin in 2008; Joe Biden is the first Catholic VP; and HerbertHoover's VP Charles Curtis was 3/8ths Native American).
9th May '15 2:30:03 AM SeptimusHeap
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The best examples are probably Dick Cheney and AlGore. Regarding the former, [[GeorgeWBush Dubya]] is well known to have been a bit of a lightweight on some issues, and certainly wasn't a policy wonk. Cheney, on the other hand, had been a Congressman from Wyoming and House Minority Whip, and had also been GeraldFord's Chief of Staff and Bush Sr.'s Secretary of Defense, while the younger Bush had no direct Washington experience. For the latter, UsefulNotes/BillClinton actually was quite wonkish, but he wasn't quite as policy-oriented as Gore. Gore also brought political muscle to the table, as he was a confirmed Washington insider (not only had he been in Congress for ten years when he was elected, his father had been a powerful Senator from Tennessee), while Clinton had only ever been Governor of Arkansas.\\
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The best examples are probably Dick Cheney and AlGore. Regarding the former, [[GeorgeWBush [[UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush Dubya]] is well known to have been a bit of a lightweight on some issues, and certainly wasn't a policy wonk. Cheney, on the other hand, had been a Congressman from Wyoming and House Minority Whip, and had also been GeraldFord's Chief of Staff and Bush Sr.'s Secretary of Defense, while the younger Bush had no direct Washington experience. For the latter, UsefulNotes/BillClinton actually was quite wonkish, but he wasn't quite as policy-oriented as Gore. Gore also brought political muscle to the table, as he was a confirmed Washington insider (not only had he been in Congress for ten years when he was elected, his father had been a powerful Senator from Tennessee), while Clinton had only ever been Governor of Arkansas.\\

No third party candidate has ever been elected president. Even when the Republican Party won its first presidential election with Abraham Lincoln in 1860, it was already one of the top two parties going into the election year. However, there have been several third party candidacies with a sizable impact on the two-party race -- which is to say, backlash on the third-party voters' second choice. This is known as the "spoiler" effect, most recently observed when Ross Perot ran as an independent candidate in 1992, received 19% of the popular vote and split conservatives, and in 2000, where Green Party candidate Ralph Nader's showing of 2% was sufficient to tip the scales in GeorgeWBush's favor in UsefulNotes/{{Florida}}. In addition, UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt, U.S. president from 1901-1908 under the Republican Party, became disillusioned with the non-progressive political standing of his successor, Taft, who was also on the GOP. Thus, TR formed the Bull Moose Party and ran for election in 1912, where he won 88 electoral votes, which was far from a majority, but the most a third party has won since the ubiquity of the Democratic and Republican Parties..
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No third party candidate has ever been elected president. Even when the Republican Party won its first presidential election with Abraham Lincoln in 1860, it was already one of the top two parties going into the election year. However, there have been several third party candidacies with a sizable impact on the two-party race -- which is to say, backlash on the third-party voters' second choice. This is known as the "spoiler" effect, most recently observed when Ross Perot ran as an independent candidate in 1992, received 19% of the popular vote and split conservatives, and in 2000, where Green Party candidate Ralph Nader's showing of 2% was sufficient to tip the scales in GeorgeWBush's UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush's favor in UsefulNotes/{{Florida}}. In addition, UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt, U.S. president from 1901-1908 under the Republican Party, became disillusioned with the non-progressive political standing of his successor, Taft, who was also on the GOP. Thus, TR formed the Bull Moose Party and ran for election in 1912, where he won 88 electoral votes, which was far from a majority, but the most a third party has won since the ubiquity of the Democratic and Republican Parties..

In the 2011-2012 session, the Republicans hold the majority in the House of Representatives, while the Democrats hold the Senate majority. As the executive and legislative branches are distinct in the US government, it is possible for one or both houses of Congress to be controlled by the opposite party than the president, and indeed this is more often than not the case -- Democrat UsefulNotes/BillClinton had a Republican congress for six years of his presidency, and GeorgeWBush worked with a Democratic Congress for the final two years of his term. While such differences can often lead to a political stalemate -- a budgetary standoff between Clinton and Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich lead to a federal government shutdown in 1995 -- more often than not, compromise rules the day. Republican use of the filibuster rule during Barack Obama's term has served to give the minority party an effective veto, earned them the nickname "Party Of No" (due to an unwillingness to go along with what the Democrats want) and revived serious discussion about doing away with the filibuster entirely, or at least seriously weakening it. The exact same debate, of course, happened with the parties reversed during the GeorgeWBush administration, when (until 2006) the Democrats were in the minority. And now you have an idea of why serious moves to eliminate the filibuster never go through -- the party in power may be annoyed by it, but they know that, when they become the minority on Capitol Hill, not having the filibuster means that they won't be able to make their dissent mean anything.
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In the 2011-2012 session, the Republicans hold the majority in the House of Representatives, while the Democrats hold the Senate majority. As the executive and legislative branches are distinct in the US government, it is possible for one or both houses of Congress to be controlled by the opposite party than the president, and indeed this is more often than not the case -- Democrat UsefulNotes/BillClinton had a Republican congress for six years of his presidency, and GeorgeWBush UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush worked with a Democratic Congress for the final two years of his term. While such differences can often lead to a political stalemate -- a budgetary standoff between Clinton and Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich lead to a federal government shutdown in 1995 -- more often than not, compromise rules the day. Republican use of the filibuster rule during Barack Obama's term has served to give the minority party an effective veto, earned them the nickname "Party Of No" (due to an unwillingness to go along with what the Democrats want) and revived serious discussion about doing away with the filibuster entirely, or at least seriously weakening it. The exact same debate, of course, happened with the parties reversed during the GeorgeWBush UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush administration, when (until 2006) the Democrats were in the minority. And now you have an idea of why serious moves to eliminate the filibuster never go through -- the party in power may be annoyed by it, but they know that, when they become the minority on Capitol Hill, not having the filibuster means that they won't be able to make their dissent mean anything.
27th Apr '15 12:37:12 AM SeptimusHeap
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Per edit requests thread.
Historically, the president is a White Protestant, though not always. JohnFKennedy was Catholic, which was a big deal, and current president UsefulNotes/BarackObama has an African father, which is an even ''bigger'' deal. Historically, the President has also always been male, though fiction has delighted in depicting female presidents and the possibility is considered more-or-less inevitable by now. In fact, Hillary Clinton came ''very'' close to being chosen as the Democratic candidate for president in 2008, was more or less considered a lock for the position until Obama's rise to prominence, and is currently the Democratic front-runner for 2016 -- Republican operatives have admitted that they have nobody who could seriously challenge Clinton's popularity and political clout should she decide to run again. Both these generalizations apply equally well to the vice president (twice a woman has been a major party's nomination for veep, the Democrats first picking Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and the Republicans picking Sarah Palin in 2008; Joe Biden is the first Catholic VP; and HerbertHoover's VP Charles Curtis was 3/8ths Native American).
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Historically, the president is a White Protestant, though not always. JohnFKennedy was Catholic, which was a big deal, and current president UsefulNotes/BarackObama has an African father, which is an even ''bigger'' deal. Historically, the President has also always been male, though fiction has delighted in depicting female presidents and the possibility is considered more-or-less inevitable by now. In fact, Hillary Clinton came ''very'' close to being chosen as the Democratic candidate for president in 2008, was more or less considered a lock for the position until Obama's rise to prominence, and is currently the Democratic front-runner for 2016 -- Republican operatives have admitted that they have nobody who could seriously challenge Clinton's popularity and political clout should she decide to run again.2016. Both these generalizations apply equally well to the vice president (twice a woman has been a major party's nomination for veep, the Democrats first picking Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and the Republicans picking Sarah Palin in 2008; Joe Biden is the first Catholic VP; and HerbertHoover's VP Charles Curtis was 3/8ths Native American).
14th Apr '15 2:36:46 PM SeptimusHeap
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Per edit requests thread.
%% Historical facts might interest us if they have something to do with how stories are told about the US.
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%% Historical facts might interest us if they have something to do with how stories are told about the US.

->''"Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that [[VocalMinority get all the publicity]]. But then, we elected them."''
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->''"Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that [[VocalMinority get all the publicity]].publicity. But then, we elected them."''

Note that distinction: DC is ''in'' the United States, but not ''of'' them.[[note]]This is to prevent it from being too heavily affected by any one state's petty local politics. Philadelphia was the original capital until the Pennsylvania state legislature effectively [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Mutiny_of_1783 holding Congress hostage in 1783]] convinced everyone else this was a bad idea.[[/note]] Lots of HilarityEnsues from that fact, including the oddity that the citizens of DC - despite paying taxes - have no voting representation in the Legislative Branch (merely a non-voting representative), and until 1961 couldn't vote in Presidential elections. This from the country that revolted under the battle cry, "No taxation without representation!" The city's residents are disgruntled about it enough that the official DC automobile license plate reads "Taxation Without Representation".
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Note that distinction: DC is ''in'' the United States, but not ''of'' them.[[note]]This is to prevent it from being too heavily affected by any one state's petty local politics. Philadelphia was the original capital until the Pennsylvania state legislature effectively [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Mutiny_of_1783 holding Congress hostage in 1783]] convinced everyone else this was a bad idea.[[/note]] Lots of HilarityEnsues from that fact, including The result includes the oddity that the citizens of DC - despite paying taxes - have no voting representation in the Legislative Branch (merely a non-voting representative), and until 1961 couldn't vote in Presidential elections. This from the country that revolted under the battle cry, "No taxation without representation!" The city's residents are disgruntled about it enough that the official DC automobile license plate reads "Taxation Without Representation".

Unlike many other nations, the US has had precisely one written constitution since independence in 1776,[[note]]The [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution Articles]] [[OldShame 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 constitutiton - 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]] [[OldShame 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 constitutiton - 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.

In addition, this was the reasoning behind the choices of the two women who have served as major-party Vice Presidential candidates: Walter Mondale's pick of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and John [=McCain's=] pick of SarahPalin in 2008. Ferraro was added to the Democratic ticket in '84 mainly to build support in the future; it was thought that Mondale's campaign against popular incumbent RonaldReagan was hopeless ([[CurbStompBattle and it ultimately was]]), so putting a woman on the ticket would help the Democrats curry favor with female voters in the future. Meanwhile, [=McCain=] was under pressure on both the left and the right. From the right, he had a reputation for being a very moderate Republican, so much so that many conservatives declared that they'd vote for UsefulNotes/HillaryRodhamClinton or a third party over him. From the left, [=McCain=] had the misfortune of being a stuffy old white guy running against [[UsefulNotes/BarackObama Barack "Hope and Change" Obama]], who himself had just emerged from a tough campaign against a Democratic rival who also wasn't an old white guy -- the aforementioned Hillary Clinton, who still had a large base of supporters in the party. It was thought that Palin, being both ultra-conservative and a woman, would solve both problems simultaneously.\\
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In addition, this was the reasoning behind the choices of the two women who have served as major-party Vice Presidential candidates: Walter Mondale's pick of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and John [=McCain's=] pick of SarahPalin in 2008. Ferraro was added to the Democratic ticket in '84 mainly to build support in the future; it was thought that Mondale's campaign against popular incumbent RonaldReagan was hopeless ([[CurbStompBattle and (and it ultimately was]]), was), so putting a woman on the ticket would help the Democrats curry favor with female voters in the future. Meanwhile, [=McCain=] was under pressure on both the left and the right. From the right, he had a reputation for being a very moderate Republican, so much so that many conservatives declared that they'd vote for UsefulNotes/HillaryRodhamClinton or a third party over him. From the left, [=McCain=] had the misfortune of being a stuffy old white guy running against [[UsefulNotes/BarackObama Barack "Hope and Change" Obama]], who himself had just emerged from a tough campaign against a Democratic rival who also wasn't an old white guy -- the aforementioned Hillary Clinton, who still had a large base of supporters in the party. It was thought that Palin, being both ultra-conservative and a woman, would solve both problems simultaneously.\\

Of course, both times it backfired. In Ferraro's case, she and her husband's obtuse finances became a major issue in the campaign, and the revelation that she had a maid and a few million dollars tied up in real estate greatly undermined her "working-class immigrant's daughter" image. Palin, meanwhile, proved to be a gaffe machine and a publicity hound, with a lack of depth in foreign policy bordering on IdiotBall levels; Creator/TinaFey's famous "I can see Russia from my house!" joke was based on Palin citing her home state of UsefulNotes/{{Alaska}} (where she was Governor) being just over the Bering Strait from Russia as a foreign policy qualification. In both cases, they were ultimately seen by many voters as "token" candidates, having not been properly vetted by campaigns more interested in making a splash than in having strong running mates.
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Of course, both Both times it backfired. In Ferraro's case, she and her husband's obtuse finances became a major issue in the campaign, and the revelation that she had a maid and a few million dollars tied up in real estate greatly undermined her "working-class immigrant's daughter" image. Palin, meanwhile, proved to be a gaffe machine and a publicity hound, with a lack of depth in foreign policy bordering on IdiotBall levels; policy; Creator/TinaFey's famous "I can see Russia from my house!" joke was based on Palin citing her home state of UsefulNotes/{{Alaska}} (where she was Governor) being just over the Bering Strait from Russia as a foreign policy qualification. In both cases, they were ultimately seen by many voters as "token" candidates, having not been properly vetted by campaigns more interested in making a splash than in having strong running mates.

** LBJ is the closest thing to this in recent history, as it was well-known that he wanted the top job himself. Along with the ticket-balancing issue and his Washington connections (which were a bit more extensive than Kennedy's), he was the perfect VP candidate. [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor His actual presidency]] makes this situation either [[HilariousInHindsight hilarious]] or [[HarsherInHindsight more gut-wrenching]].
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** LBJ is the closest thing to this in recent history, as it was well-known that he wanted the top job himself. Along with the ticket-balancing issue and his Washington connections (which were a bit more extensive than Kennedy's), he was the perfect VP candidate. [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor His actual presidency]] presidency makes this situation either [[HilariousInHindsight hilarious]] hilarious or [[HarsherInHindsight more gut-wrenching]].gut-wrenching.

** Joe Biden might also have been picked for this reason, as despite his serious case of [[OpenMouthInsertFoot foot-in-mouth]] [[DidIJustSayThatOutLoud 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]] [[DidIJustSayThatOutLoud disease]], 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.

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 [[BrutalHonesty 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.) At several points in American history the vice president has been, in effect, the Highest Elected Patsy, and has "taken the fall" for the administration. Since WorldWarII (where HarryTruman didn't know about the Manhattan Project until he took office), the Vice-President has gained more influence, but it varies between administrations -- Dick Cheney was seen as [[TheManBehindTheMan very powerful]], Joe Biden [[LordErrorProne less so]]. A presidential term lasts four years, and an individual President is limited to two terms in office, originally as a tradition and later codified in the Constitution through the 22nd Amendment in 1951, after UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt was elected to four consecutive terms, only leaving office because [[CriticalExistenceFailure he died]]. Presidential elections are held every four years, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
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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 [[BrutalHonesty more direct]], 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.) At several points in American history the vice president has been, in effect, the Highest Elected Patsy, and has "taken the fall" for the administration. Since WorldWarII (where HarryTruman didn't know about the Manhattan Project until he took office), the Vice-President has gained more influence, but it varies between administrations -- Dick Cheney was seen as [[TheManBehindTheMan very powerful]], powerful, Joe Biden [[LordErrorProne less so]]. so. A presidential term lasts four years, and an individual President is limited to two terms in office, originally as a tradition and later codified in the Constitution through the 22nd Amendment in 1951, after UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt was elected to four consecutive terms, only leaving office because [[CriticalExistenceFailure he died]].died. Presidential elections are held every four years, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

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, [[CriticalResearchFailure 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 statures 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]] He eventually got so annoyed with this that he released his long-form birth certificate, then [[CrowningMomentOfFunny splashed it on a mug with the slogan "Made in the USA"]] and [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome killed]] OsamaBinLaden about two days later, which effectively shut up all but the [[VocalMinority noisiest]] of the "birther theorists." (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, [[CriticalResearchFailure he would still be a natural-born US citizen on account of his mother being one]], one, and while he was born after that law took effect, under the statures 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]] He eventually got so annoyed with this that he released his long-form birth certificate, then [[CrowningMomentOfFunny splashed it on a mug with the slogan "Made in the USA"]] USA" and [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome killed]] killed OsamaBinLaden about two days later, which effectively shut up all but the [[VocalMinority noisiest]] noisiest of the "birther theorists." (DonaldTrump was not among those shut up, which is highly entertaining to pretty much everyone who doesn't agree with him.)

The 25th Amendment also allows a President to ''temporarily'' relinquish the office due to incapacitation. So far this has only been used when the President has to undergo some medical procedure that requires anaesthetization, so that if something truly terrible happens while the President is knocked out, there will be an acting President who can take action immediately without provoking a Constitutional conflict. It's never happened and probably never will, but why take the risk?
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The 25th Amendment also allows a President to ''temporarily'' relinquish the office due to incapacitation. So far this has only been used when the President has to undergo some medical procedure that requires anaesthetization, so that if something truly terrible happens while the President is knocked out, there will be an acting President who can take action immediately without provoking a Constitutional conflict. It's never happened and probably never will, but why take the risk? risk?

The Constitution itself lets Congress decide what happens if both POTUS and VPOTUS ([[FunWithAcronyms (Vice) President of the United States]]) are gone. Currently, this falls under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. It goes from President, to Vice President, to Speaker of the House, to President ''pro tempore'' of the Senate, to the Cabinet members in order of the Cabinet post's longevity. Since the US hasn't gone past 'vice president' yet on the list, the fact that it ends at the Cabinet hasn't been tested. A person in the line of succession must satisfy the constitutional eligibility requirement--A foreign-born cabinet officer (e.g., Bush 43's Taiwan-born Labor Secretary Elaine Chao)[[note]]German-born Henry Kissinger, who as Nixon's Secretary of State would have gotten as close as third in line if not for the natural-born citizen requirement, is an even better example[[/note]] would be passed over.
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The Constitution itself lets Congress decide what happens if both POTUS and VPOTUS ([[FunWithAcronyms (Vice) President an Vice-President of the United States]]) States are gone. Currently, this falls under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. It goes from President, to Vice President, to Speaker of the House, to President ''pro tempore'' of the Senate, to the Cabinet members in order of the Cabinet post's longevity. Since the US hasn't gone past 'vice president' yet on the list, the fact that it ends at the Cabinet hasn't been tested. A person in the line of succession must satisfy the constitutional eligibility requirement--A foreign-born cabinet officer (e.g., Bush 43's Taiwan-born Labor Secretary Elaine Chao)[[note]]German-born Henry Kissinger, who as Nixon's Secretary of State would have gotten as close as third in line if not for the natural-born citizen requirement, is an even better example[[/note]] would be passed over.

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, a so-called "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin curse]]" on the Presidency that has existed since 1840 (though it was first popularized in 1931 by ''RipleysBelieveItOrNot''). Basically, with the exception of 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, a so-called "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin curse]]" on that affects the Presidency that and has existed since 1840 (though it was first popularized in 1931 by ''RipleysBelieveItOrNot''). Basically, with the exception of ZacharyTaylor (who died in 1850), every President who has died in office was elected in a year divisible by twenty.

The average American (excluding the editors of the [[http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=GOVMAN U.S. Government Manual]] & [[http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=CDIR the Congressional Directory]], and maybe Creator/TomClancy) has heard of maybe two or three of these guys, maybe four if they keep up enough with current events or teach political science, usually taken from the ''big four'' quartet: the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, and the Attorney General. The Cabinet typically also includes the Vice President, the President’s Chief of Staff, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Unlike in many other countries, the cabinet meetings are not the avenue where major policy decisions are made in foreign and military affairs: that takes place in the National Security Council where only the relevant officials, such as the President, Vice President, the Secretaries of State and Defense participates (The Secretary of Education, for instance, doesn’t need to know of diplomatic talks with [[NorthKorea a crazy playboy dictator]], weapons sales to {{Israel}} or [[{{Qurac}} of the invasion plans of the next Middle Eastern Oil State waiting in line]]).
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The average American (excluding the editors of the [[http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=GOVMAN U.S. Government Manual]] & [[http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=CDIR the Congressional Directory]], and maybe Creator/TomClancy) has heard of maybe two or three of these guys, maybe four if they keep up enough with current events or teach political science, usually taken from the ''big four'' quartet: the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, and the Attorney General. The Cabinet typically also includes the Vice President, the President’s Chief of Staff, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Unlike in many other countries, the cabinet meetings are not the avenue where major policy decisions are made in foreign and military affairs: that takes place in the National Security Council where only the relevant officials, such as the President, Vice President, the Secretaries of State and Defense participates (The Secretary of Education, for instance, doesn’t need to know of diplomatic talks with [[NorthKorea a crazy playboy dictator]], dictator, weapons sales to {{Israel}} or [[{{Qurac}} of the invasion plans of the next Middle Eastern Oil State waiting in line]]). line).

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 Wal-Mart and [=McDonald's=].) The Office of the Secretary of Defense is the mainly civilian staff of the Secretary of Defense (duh!), 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 (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 Wal-Mart and [=McDonald's=].) The Office of the Secretary of Defense is the mainly civilian staff of the Secretary of Defense (duh!), 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 [[Literature/DeceptionPoint 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}} National Security Agency]] (the people who know that you’re reading this article), the [[Literature/DeceptionPoint National Reconnaissance Office]] 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.

In aggregate, all this confusion is commonly referred to as The Bureaucracy: the number two government source of fear, after the [[IntimidatingRevenueService Internal Revenue Service]] (itself part of the Department of the Treasury).
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In aggregate, all this confusion is commonly referred to as The Bureaucracy: the number two government source of fear, after the [[IntimidatingRevenueService Internal Revenue Service]] Service (itself part of the Department of the Treasury).

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

Senate seniority, by the way, is a funny thing. There are two types: seniority in the general body, and seniority in terms of a particular state. Seniority is decided by length of tenure in the Senate, so a Senator can be quite senior and still the "junior senator" of a particular state.
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Senate seniority, by the way, is a funny thing. There are two types: seniority in the general body, and seniority in terms of a particular state. Seniority is decided by length of tenure in the Senate, so a Senator can be quite senior and still the "junior senator" of a particular state. state.

Members of Congress, of either house, are often identified in the media with a hyphenated suffix that abbreviates their affiliation and state -- "D-CA", for example, indicates a Democrat from California, while "R-IN" would refer to a Republican from Indiana, and "I-VT" would refer to [[TakeAThirdOption Bernie Sanders from Vermont]].
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Members of Congress, of either house, are often identified in the media with a hyphenated suffix that abbreviates their affiliation and state -- "D-CA", for example, indicates a Democrat from California, while "R-IN" would refer to a Republican from Indiana, and "I-VT" would refer to [[TakeAThirdOption Bernie Sanders from Vermont]]. Vermont.

The Supreme Court is the ultimate body of appeal in US law, and is charged with the task of reviewing cases where the constitutionality of a law or governmental act is in question. If a law is deemed "unconstitutional" -- that is, contradictory to the letter or spirit of the Constitution -- the Court has the power to [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight declare it null and void by a majority vote of justices]]. The Court also has the power to settle disputes between the states themselves, but these cases only make up a small minority of cases (one or two per term, at the most). The Court is also the highest level of appeal for all issues of federal law even when constitutionality is not a issue.
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The Supreme Court is the ultimate body of appeal in US law, and is charged with the task of reviewing cases where the constitutionality of a law or governmental act is in question. If a law is deemed "unconstitutional" -- that is, contradictory to the letter or spirit of the Constitution -- the Court has the power to [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight declare it null and void by a majority vote of justices]].justices. The Court also has the power to settle disputes between the states themselves, but these cases only make up a small minority of cases (one or two per term, at the most). The Court is also the highest level of appeal for all issues of federal law even when constitutionality is not a issue.

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 in a manner [[WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}} that would make Xanatos proud]]). ''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 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 in a manner [[WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}} that would make Xanatos proud]]).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:

One major difference between the States and the Federal governments is that states hold a lot more elections. A State need not limit its elections to the legislature and the chief executive, as the federal government does; they can also hold elections for secretary of state, attorney general, comptroller, state supreme court judges, judges of lower courts, district attorneys, sheriffs, and/or dog catchers. Much of this will be specified in the state constitution, which is generally amended by popular vote as well. Many states also have a procedure where an elected official may be removed (recalled) from office in a special election if a sufficient number of petitions are gathered. A significant example of this occurred in 2003, when California governor Gray Davis was successfully recalled and replaced by Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger in a special election that included 135 candidates[[note]]Among whom were several odd personalities, including [[DiffrentStrokes Gary Coleman]], the former [[UsefulNotes/{{Baseball}} Commissioner of Baseball]], and a porn star[[/note]] for the office. Recently, an attempt to recall Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was defeated, making Gov. Walker the first governor in American history to survive a recall attempt (and only the third to be recalled).
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One major difference between the States and the Federal governments is that states hold a lot more elections. A State need not limit its elections to the legislature and the chief executive, as the federal government does; they can also hold elections for secretary of state, attorney general, comptroller, state supreme court judges, judges of lower courts, district attorneys, sheriffs, and/or dog catchers. Much of this will be specified in the state constitution, which is generally amended by popular vote as well. Many states also have a procedure where an elected official may be removed (recalled) from office in a special election if a sufficient number of petitions are gathered. A significant example of this occurred in 2003, when California governor Gray Davis was successfully recalled and replaced by Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger in a special election that included 135 candidates[[note]]Among whom were several odd personalities, including [[DiffrentStrokes Gary Coleman]], Coleman, the former [[UsefulNotes/{{Baseball}} Commissioner of Baseball]], and a porn star[[/note]] for the office. Recently, an attempt to recall Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was defeated, making Gov. Walker the first governor in American history to survive a recall attempt (and only the third to be recalled).

There are two major parties in the US today. Americans' general feeling about these parties is that one is [[KickTheDog evil]] and the other is [[WhatAnIdiot inept]]. Which is which depends on who you ask.
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There are two major parties in the US today. Americans' general feeling about these parties is that one is [[KickTheDog evil]] evil and the other is [[WhatAnIdiot inept]].inept. Which is which depends on who you ask.

The distinction on geography is ''very'' important. The South tends to be more conservative than the North and West, and the Rocky Mountain states and the Midwest somewhere in the middle, which is a phenomenon that has existed most likely since the nation's inception. So a Maine Republican might be more liberal than a Mississippi Democrat. The historical shift of the parties can be seen very vividly in this context: the Republicans (based in the north) under Lincoln ended slavery, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was nearly unanimously opposed by Southern legislators and supported by the rest, and these days, most minorities often disfavor Republicans (especially southern ones, and they're now based in the south). [[HufflepuffHouse The West]] tends to be more socially libertarian but economically conservative. Once again, these are all generalizations.
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The distinction on geography is ''very'' important. The South tends to be more conservative than the North and West, and the Rocky Mountain states and the Midwest somewhere in the middle, which is a phenomenon that has existed most likely since the nation's inception. So a Maine Republican might be more liberal than a Mississippi Democrat. The historical shift of the parties can be seen very vividly in this context: the Republicans (based in the north) under Lincoln ended slavery, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was nearly unanimously opposed by Southern legislators and supported by the rest, and these days, most minorities often disfavor Republicans (especially southern ones, and they're now based in the south). [[HufflepuffHouse The West]] West tends to be more socially libertarian but economically conservative. Once again, these are all generalizations.

Also, note the unofficial colors of the two parties. In [[ColorCodedForYourConvenience most of the Western world]], the color red is used for left-wing parties (red having traditionally been the color of socialism), while blue was given to right-wing parties. In America, however, this is reversed -- the center-left (by American standards) Democrats have blue as their color, while the center-right Republicans are red. The terms "red states" and "blue states" stem from this dichotomy, and was born during a confluence of coincidences during the [[NewerThanTheyThink 2000 presidential election]]. [[note]]If you really want the whole story: On Election Night, a map of the United States is displayed and as each state gets called for a winner, it is colored in. Since the colors of America are red, white, and blue, and the uncolored (and therefore blank) states work as white, red and blue were used to color in the states. Through the year 2000, the colors were distributed to the Republicans and Democrats entirely at random. It ''just so happened'' that in the 2000 elections, which were heavily disputed and the outcome of which remained in doubt for weeks, the Republicans had gotten red and the Democrats blue. Since that map was displayed so frequently and discussed so often, the colors were indelibly linked to each party in the public's mind.[[/note]]
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Also, note the unofficial colors of the two parties. In [[ColorCodedForYourConvenience most of the Western world]], world, the color red is used for left-wing parties (red having traditionally been the color of socialism), while blue was given to right-wing parties. In America, however, this is reversed -- the center-left (by American standards) Democrats have blue as their color, while the center-right Republicans are red. The terms "red states" and "blue states" stem from this dichotomy, and was born during a confluence of coincidences during the [[NewerThanTheyThink 2000 presidential election]]. election.[[note]]If you really want the whole story: On Election Night, a map of the United States is displayed and as each state gets called for a winner, it is colored in. Since the colors of America are red, white, and blue, and the uncolored (and therefore blank) states work as white, red and blue were used to color in the states. Through the year 2000, the colors were distributed to the Republicans and Democrats entirely at random. It ''just so happened'' that in the 2000 elections, which were heavily disputed and the outcome of which remained in doubt for weeks, the Republicans had gotten red and the Democrats blue. Since that map was displayed so frequently and discussed so often, the colors were indelibly linked to each party in the public's mind.[[/note]]

* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_Party_(United_States) Libertarian Party]]''' is pretty much ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: it aims to be the leading party for libertarianism (though some libertarians do not agree with some of the LP's stances). It is the third largest political party according to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_Party_%28United_States%29#cite_note-1 these sources]] as of 2011. Libertarians tend to favor maximum individual liberty (pro-gun rights, pro-gay rights, pro-drug legalization, pro-legal abortion, anti-Patriot Act, anti-censorship), maximum economic liberty (loose environmental and labor laws, pro-free trade, anti-tax, anti-bailout), and very limited government involvement in social welfare. Libertarians do not identify themselves as "left" or "right" in the traditional sense -- most would argue for a bi-axial system of political identification, with "conservative" and "liberal" on the economic axis and "libertarian" and "authoritarian" on the social axis.
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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_Party_(United_States) Libertarian Party]]''' is pretty much ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: Party]]''': it aims to be the leading party for libertarianism (though some libertarians do not agree with some of the LP's stances). It is the third largest political party according to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_Party_%28United_States%29#cite_note-1 these sources]] as of 2011. Libertarians tend to favor maximum individual liberty (pro-gun rights, pro-gay rights, pro-drug legalization, pro-legal abortion, anti-Patriot Act, anti-censorship), maximum economic liberty (loose environmental and labor laws, pro-free trade, anti-tax, anti-bailout), and very limited government involvement in social welfare. Libertarians do not identify themselves as "left" or "right" in the traditional sense -- most would argue for a bi-axial system of political identification, with "conservative" and "liberal" on the economic axis and "libertarian" and "authoritarian" on the social axis.

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 [[GlobalWarming climate change]] legislation have been taken up as additional planks by many local and regional groups. A few politicians, such as SarahPalin, Rick Perry, Herman Cain 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. [[WeAreStrugglingTogether 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, please remember the RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgment when discussing them.
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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 and opposition to [[GlobalWarming "Global Warming" climate change]] change legislation have been taken up as additional planks by many local and regional groups. A few politicians, such as SarahPalin, Rick Perry, Herman Cain 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. [[WeAreStrugglingTogether This has been problematic]], 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, please remember the RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgment when discussing them. States.

* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Masonic_Party Anti-Masonic Party]]''', [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin as its name suggests]], was formed in 1828 in opposition to what they felt was [[ConspiracyTheorist the corrupting influence of]] [[AncientConspiracy Freemasonry]], although it would eventually pursue a more general opposition to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacksonian_democracy Jacksonian democracy]]. It introduced such political traditions as party platforms and nominating conventions, as well as being the TropeMaker for single-issue political parties. At their height in 1832, they managed to win 7.78% of the popular vote, with their greatest strength in Vermont (who gave them their only electoral college victory) and in New York. The movement would fizzle out and be absorbed into the growing Whig party by 1838 (Freemasonry no longer being that hot of an issue), although not before running future President WilliamHenryHarrison in the 1836 election.
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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Masonic_Party Anti-Masonic Party]]''', [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin as its name suggests]], suggests, was formed in 1828 in opposition to what they felt was [[ConspiracyTheorist the corrupting influence of]] [[AncientConspiracy Freemasonry]], of Freemasonry, although it would eventually pursue a more general opposition to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacksonian_democracy Jacksonian democracy]]. It introduced such political traditions as party platforms and nominating conventions, as well as being the TropeMaker for setting an example of single-issue political parties.party. At their height in 1832, they managed to win 7.78% of the popular vote, with their greatest strength in Vermont (who gave them their only electoral college victory) and in New York. The movement would fizzle out and be absorbed into the growing Whig party by 1838 (Freemasonry no longer being that hot of an issue), although not before running future President WilliamHenryHarrison in the 1836 election.

* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_Party Prohibition Party]]''' was founded in 1869 to call for the restriction and prohibition of alcoholic substances. It had its greatest success in 1919, when national alcohol prohibition was enacted, causing it to change its message to calling for stricter enforcement of the ban. However, the growing distaste for prohibition cost them dearly, and the repeal of prohibition in 1933 set the party on a long decline. The party still exists, but in the last election, it only earned 643 votes -- a far cry from the days when they could win over a quarter of a million votes. By sheer twist of fate, they were responsible for the election of the first female mayor in American history, and did so completely by accident. For fun, take a look on their [[TheOtherWiki Wikipedia]] page and see where they held their conventions. Going down the list, it's kind of sad. * There have been various groups that have been known as the '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populist_Party#United_States Populist Party]]''' over the decades, but the most famous one is the '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Party_(United_States) People's Party]]''', which existed from 1884 to 1908.[[note]]For those wondering, the other Populist Parties included [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Party_(United_States,_1971) a left-wing anti-war party]] in TheSeventies that took influence from the People's Party, and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populist_Party_(United_States,_1984) a far-right party]] that ran from 1984 to '96 which was chiefly a vehicle for white nationalists and [[RightWingMilitiaFanatic militia types]]. Currently, there are two parties claiming the name, both with generally (though not doctrinaire) libertarian platforms. Bottom line, variants on "Populist Party" are, uh, [[AWorldwidePunomenon popular]] with third parties across the political spectrum.[[/note]] The Populists were an agrarian movement born out of anger at falling crop prices and rising railroad rates, and called for economic action against the banks, the railroads and the merchants of the cities. The main plank in their platform was bringing an end to the gold standard and replacing it with the free coinage of silver currency, an issue that resonated among struggling farmers (rapid inflation would allow credit to flow more freely in rural areas and make it much easier to pay off debt). The Populists had their greatest success in 1892, when they won over a million votes and four western states. However, the 1896 campaign saw the Democrats co-opting the Populists' support of free silver, which was a stake through the heart for the movement. While the party withered into irrelevance after that, much of their platform, which included an eight-hour work week, civil service reforms, a graduated income tax, and direct election of Senators, would be co-opted by the progressive movement in the early 20th century.
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* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_Party Prohibition Party]]''' was founded in 1869 to call for the restriction and prohibition of alcoholic substances. It had its greatest success in 1919, when national alcohol prohibition was enacted, causing it to change its message to calling for stricter enforcement of the ban. However, the growing distaste for prohibition cost them dearly, and the repeal of prohibition in 1933 set the party on a long decline. The party still exists, but in the last election, it only earned 643 votes -- a far cry from the days when they could win over a quarter of a million votes. By sheer twist of fate, they were responsible for the election of the first female mayor in American history, and did so completely by accident. For fun, take a look on their [[TheOtherWiki Wikipedia]] Wikipedia page and see where they held their conventions. Going down the list, it's kind of sad. * There have been various groups that have been known as the '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populist_Party#United_States Populist Party]]''' over the decades, but the most famous one is the '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Party_(United_States) People's Party]]''', which existed from 1884 to 1908.[[note]]For those wondering, the other Populist Parties included [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Party_(United_States,_1971) a left-wing anti-war party]] in TheSeventies that took influence from the People's Party, and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populist_Party_(United_States,_1984) a far-right party]] that ran from 1984 to '96 which was chiefly a vehicle for white nationalists and [[RightWingMilitiaFanatic militia types]].types. Currently, there are two parties claiming the name, both with generally (though not doctrinaire) libertarian platforms. Bottom line, variants on "Populist Party" are, uh, [[AWorldwidePunomenon popular]] popular with third parties across the political spectrum.[[/note]] The Populists were an agrarian movement born out of anger at falling crop prices and rising railroad rates, and called for economic action against the banks, the railroads and the merchants of the cities. The main plank in their platform was bringing an end to the gold standard and replacing it with the free coinage of silver currency, an issue that resonated among struggling farmers (rapid inflation would allow credit to flow more freely in rural areas and make it much easier to pay off debt). The Populists had their greatest success in 1892, when they won over a million votes and four western states. However, the 1896 campaign saw the Democrats co-opting the Populists' support of free silver, which was a stake through the heart for the movement. While the party withered into irrelevance after that, much of their platform, which included an eight-hour work week, civil service reforms, a graduated income tax, and direct election of Senators, would be co-opted by the progressive movement in the early 20th century.

* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Party_of_America Socialist Party]]''' 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 ''[[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome 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 [[WorldWarII the war]], [[RedScare anti-Communist fears]] caused the Socialist Party to fade away, and they finally broke into three parties in 1972 over the issue of TheVietnamWar. * The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_USA Communist Party USA]]''' was a Stalinist political party that was influential from the 1920s through the 1940s. It supported the Soviet Union and sought to bring its economic system to the United States, and sought to unite American leftists during TheGreatDepression. It was crushed by the second RedScare in TheFifties, and it was left out of the "New Left" of TheSixties due to its uncritical support of Leonid Brezhnev and Soviet militarism, which alienated liberals. It remains active to this day as a more democratic socialist third party (as opposed to its past militancy), but it has failed to regain its past influence. * The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixiecrat States' Rights Democratic Party]]''', or simply the '''Dixiecrats''', were a faction that broke off from the Democratic Party in 1948 in protest of the Democrats' support for {{civil rights|Movement}}. The Dixiecrats, running on a segregationist platform, nominated Senator Strom Thurmond and managed to win over 1.1 million votes, 39 electoral votes and [[DeepSouth four Southern states]]. The Dixiecrats faded away as a party after 1948, but the split between Northern and Southern Democrats continued to linger, leading to...
to:
* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Party_of_America Socialist Party]]''' 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 ''[[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome in prison]]'').''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 [[WorldWarII the war]], [[RedScare anti-Communist fears]] fears caused the Socialist Party to fade away, and they finally broke into three parties in 1972 over the issue of TheVietnamWar. * The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_USA Communist Party USA]]''' was a Stalinist political party that was influential from the 1920s through the 1940s. It supported the Soviet Union and sought to bring its economic system to the United States, and sought to unite American leftists during TheGreatDepression. It was crushed by the second RedScare Red Scare in TheFifties, and it was left out of the "New Left" of TheSixties due to its uncritical support of Leonid Brezhnev and Soviet militarism, which alienated liberals. It remains active to this day as a more democratic socialist third party (as opposed to its past militancy), but it has failed to regain its past influence. * The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixiecrat States' Rights Democratic Party]]''', or simply the '''Dixiecrats''', were a faction that broke off from the Democratic Party in 1948 in protest of the Democrats' support for {{civil rights|Movement}}. The Dixiecrats, running on a segregationist platform, nominated Senator Strom Thurmond and managed to win over 1.1 million votes, 39 electoral votes and [[DeepSouth four Southern states]].states. The Dixiecrats faded away as a party after 1948, but the split between Northern and Southern Democrats continued to linger, leading to...

Currently, there are three third-party federal office holders, all of them senators. The first is Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont who identifies himself as a socialist, campaigns as an independent but for all intents and purposes caucuses ("hangs out") with the Democrats. The second is Lisa Murkowski of UsefulNotes/{{Alaska}}; initially appointed as a Republican to the seat vacated by her father when he was elected governor, she lost to a Tea Party-backed candidate in the 2010 Republican primary, ran as a write-in candidate, and won; she continues to caucus with the Republicans. The third is Angus King of Maine, who was twice elected governor of Maine as an independent, and subsequently was elected to the Senate in a three-way race where he defeated the Republican and Democratic candidates; he caucuses with the Democrats.
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Currently, there are three third-party federal office holders, all of them senators. The first is Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont who identifies himself as a socialist, campaigns as an independent but for all intents and purposes caucuses ("hangs out") with the Democrats. The second is Lisa Murkowski of UsefulNotes/{{Alaska}}; initially appointed as a Republican to the seat vacated by her father when he was elected governor, she lost to a Tea Party-backed candidate in the 2010 Republican primary, ran as a write-in candidate, and won; she continues to caucus with the Republicans. The third is Angus King of Maine, who was twice elected governor of Maine as an independent, and subsequently was elected to the Senate in a three-way race where he defeated the Republican and Democratic candidates; he caucuses with the Democrats. Democrats.
9th Mar '15 1:41:18 AM SeptimusHeap
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When people of other nations are trying to understand the rather odd political behavior of the USA, they would do well to remember that the United States is literally just that: fifty individual states, each with their own constitution, all under the aegis of a central federal government. The relationship between the federal government and the state governments can get contentious, to the point that there [[TheAmericanCivilWar was a civil war about it]].
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When people of other nations are trying to understand the rather odd political behavior of the USA, they would do well to remember that the United States is literally just that: fifty individual states, each with their own constitution, all under the aegis of a central federal government. The relationship between the federal government and the state governments can get contentious, to the point that there [[TheAmericanCivilWar [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar was a civil war about it]].
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