Question for Quill/Ben about US governance

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Question for Quill/Ben about US governance Empty Question for Quill/Ben about US governance

Post by Victorismyhero on Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:00 am

what are the functions of "the house" and "the senate"?

who does what and who has the final say on policy etc?

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Question for Quill/Ben about US governance Empty Re: Question for Quill/Ben about US governance

Post by Ben Reilly on Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:17 pm

Okay, so it gets a bit convoluted, but try to stay with me.

The House and the Senate are the two chambers of the Congress, whose job it is to write bills. Think of the two chambers of Parliament.

Bills originate in either house but have to be passed by both houses.

If both houses pass them, they go to the president, who can either sign them into laws, or veto them.

The Senate can override a presidential veto with a two-thirds majority vote (usually 67 votes).

It gets confusing because of the party system. So you have Trump touting bills that are in the process of being hashed out in Congress and it can sound as though he wrote the bill, or "Obamacare" which was more accurately a health care bill passed in Congress and signed by Obama, which Obama wholeheartedly supported and lobbied for.

* Congress sets the yearly federal budget. Sounds boring, but sometimes it gets interesting; for example, when the Republicans took over both houses of Congress, they didn't quite have enough votes to repeal Obamacare, but they did have enough votes to strip funding from certain aspects of Obamacare, weakening it. Congress also serves as the jury if a president is impeached.

* The president is also the commander in chief of the military and (sorry for the nightmares) the person who can launch a nuclear strike. The president is the chief law enforcement officer in the country (which is pretty much equally terrifying right now, if you're an American with half a brain). The president can issue executive orders, which are sort of murky and usually don't create major changes; otherwise Congress would throw a fit and accuse the president of acting like a dictator.

* The Supreme Court decides whether laws violate the constitution. Its judges are appointed by the president but have to be approved by the Senate.

In short, our government is weird, because it's a system of compromises and checks on power. I think the single best example of this is the legal situation of marijuana right now:

Michigan just voted to become another state in which marijuana is legal. However, at the federal level, it's illegal. And the federal government has the right at any time to come in and shut it all down at the state level. This would make for spectacular news coverage; think FBI agents conducting countless raids and burning fields of marijuana to the ground.

The only reason states are bold enough to legalize marijuana in the first place is because Obama literally said "Go ahead and do it; we won't enforce that law in states that legalize it."

Trump could easily say, "Shut it down," but he probably doesn't because he doesn't want to be even more hated than he already is.

Hope that helps.

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Question for Quill/Ben about US governance Empty Re: Question for Quill/Ben about US governance

Post by Guest on Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:28 pm



In short, our government is weird, because it's a system of compromises and checks on power.


but if you didn't have compromise and checks on power you could end up with a dictatorship, no? it;s the same over here in that there has to be a majority agreement in parliament for anything to go through

the upside is that it does stop dictatorship, the downside is that sometimes it seems that nowt actually gets done due to constant squabbling and compromises

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Post by Ben Reilly on Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:34 pm

gelico wrote:

In short, our government is weird, because it's a system of compromises and checks on power.


but if you didn't have compromise and checks on power you could end up with a dictatorship, no?  it;s the same over here in that there has to be a majority agreement in parliament for anything to go through

the upside is that it does stop dictatorship, the downside is that sometimes it seems that nowt actually gets done due to constant squabbling and compromises

Pretty much, yeah. That's actually been one of the biggest critiques of Trump, that he doesn't realize he's not the "boss" of the United States. He's actually an employee of the American people; all politicians are employees of the people in democracies, and we'd do better to remember that.

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Post by Guest on Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:44 pm

*THE Ben Reilly* wrote:
gelico wrote:

In short, our government is weird, because it's a system of compromises and checks on power.


but if you didn't have compromise and checks on power you could end up with a dictatorship, no?  it;s the same over here in that there has to be a majority agreement in parliament for anything to go through

the upside is that it does stop dictatorship, the downside is that sometimes it seems that nowt actually gets done due to constant squabbling and compromises

Pretty much, yeah. That's actually been one of the biggest critiques of Trump, that he doesn't realize he's not the "boss" of the United States. He's actually an employee of the American people; all politicians are employees of the people in democracies, and we'd do better to remember that.

so now that the dems have taken back control of the house, this means it will be much more difficult for trump to get through legislation cos they will block it, yes?

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Post by Original Quill on Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:14 pm

Ben wrote:Congress also serves as the jury if a president is impeached.

You have to understand the terms in context of usage.  The term "congress" is used two ways: (1) it is a generic term for the legislature of the US in general; and (2) it is the name of the lower chamber, also called the House of Representatives.  Generally, a higher-cased 'C' means the lower chamber, or House of Representatives; when used generically, it is spelled in all lower-case letters.

Congress (the lower chamber) actually does not sit as the jury in impeachment proceedings.  The Senate does.  Impeachment is the extraordinary upsetting of the Constitutional way of electing people to office; hence, it has elevated importance.  The House votes a bill of particulars, called a bill of impeachment, in effect a list of charges, and if voted out favorably the individual is "impeached".

Once an individual is impeached (charged), the Senate sits as jury and tries the individual, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sitting as the trial judge.  If the majority of the Senate votes to oust the individual from office, he is removed.

Thereafter, if criminal charges are at issue, the individual faces indictment and a criminal trial as with any citizen.  However, the standard ("high crimes and misdemeanors") is so low, that an individual may be impeached and actual crimes are not an issue.

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Question for Quill/Ben about US governance Empty Re: Question for Quill/Ben about US governance

Post by Ben Reilly on Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:18 pm

gelico wrote:
*THE Ben Reilly* wrote:
gelico wrote:

In short, our government is weird, because it's a system of compromises and checks on power.


but if you didn't have compromise and checks on power you could end up with a dictatorship, no?  it;s the same over here in that there has to be a majority agreement in parliament for anything to go through

the upside is that it does stop dictatorship, the downside is that sometimes it seems that nowt actually gets done due to constant squabbling and compromises

Pretty much, yeah. That's actually been one of the biggest critiques of Trump, that he doesn't realize he's not the "boss" of the United States. He's actually an employee of the American people; all politicians are employees of the people in democracies, and we'd do better to remember that.

so now that the dems have taken back control of the house, this means it will be much more difficult for trump to get through legislation cos they will block it, yes?

Well, that's more the Republicans' style. The Democrats tend to say, "Okay, you want this, we want this. Let's find something we can both agree upon and pass" even if neither side gets everything they wanted. At least it gets things done.

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Question for Quill/Ben about US governance Empty Re: Question for Quill/Ben about US governance

Post by Original Quill on Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:40 pm

*THE Ben Reilly* wrote:
gelico wrote:

so now that the dems have taken back control of the house, this means it will be much more difficult for trump to get through legislation cos they will block it, yes?

Well, that's more the Republicans' style. The Democrats tend to say, "Okay, you want this, we want this. Let's find something we can both agree upon and pass" even if neither side gets everything they wanted. At least it gets things done.

You're talking about brokering versus pure obstructionism. I wouldn't be too sure the Democrats will be all that willing to barter with Republicans anymore. First, Democrats won a mandate, in part, to return to checks and balances. They have a lot of tough housecleaning to do before they can make nice-nice. We'll see at the end of that road how we get along.

Second, Republicans have grown comfortable with an attitude of gimme an an inch, I'll take a mile, thank you. Republicans have become the tribalism that the media talks so much about. You cannot barter with someone with an attitude like that, because every tug is a take, and every rest is a take. Either side of the barter, you lose. So...just don't ever give, innit?

If you do give, they laugh and call you 'snowflake'. If you don’t give, they cry and appeal to momma. It's my belief that Republicans have just shown they are out of the game, perhaps forever.

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