Just like most nation states but unlike Britain, the political system in the United States of America is apparently defined by some basic documents. For instance, the declarations of independence in the year 1776 as well as the 1789’s constitution are the pieces of documents that form the foundation of the federal Government of America. However, it has been a challenge as to why America has two chambers in congress the (Senate) and the (house) and at the same time both members represent the people who elect them. Some political philosophers have argued that one body might be efficient when considering bills (Rogerdarlington.me.uk, 2012)
The United States Constitution was written in 1787 and therefore endorsed in the following year 1788. The constitution has been in operation since 1789 making it to the list of the longest written surviving charters of governments. The government of America has been known to serve its citizen fairly and this is affirmed by the first three words of the constitution “We the People” in article I. The article represents the supremacy of its citizens through the people elected as representatives. Under article I the congress is created and it consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The position of the Congress at the start of the constitution reapproves its status as the federal government’s “First Branch”. This paper therefore explains how the Senate and the House of representatives affect American politics (ucc.edu, P1, 2011)
In the in the bicameral legislature that is collectively known as Congress, the Senate is the upper chamber whereas the House of Representatives remains the lower chamber. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives play a central role in American politics. These two chambers affect American politics in one way or another either positively or negatively. It has been echoed that the congress works concurrently or in tandem with the wishes of majority of the founding fathers of America way back in 1787. Just as the founding fathers had envisioned through the clear expressions in the constitution, power is shared among all units of government. The positive vote of both the Senate and the House of Representatives is needed to approve legislation and it is an impression of employing “checks and balances” so as to prevent dictatorship. Major bills are frequently debated as well as voted on by the House of Representatives in one day whereas the deliberations on the same bill by the Senate take weeks. This shows clearly that the founding fathers ensured that the two chambers are never carbon-copies of each other. They designed differences into both the Senate and the House by ensuring that the legislation is carefully considered by considering both short and long-term objectives (De Tocqueville, P65, 1994).
Differences in these chambers positively affect American politics because it is clearly provided that the members of the House are elected by limited groups of citizen residing in small geographically defined districts within states. On the other hand Senators represent all voters who elect them in their state. When a bill is considered by the house for instance, members tend to individually base their votes mainly on how the bill might affect the citizens of their own local districts while Senators on the other hand seem to consider the effect of the bill countrywide. Members of the House of Representatives are up for election after every two years. As a result, constituents maintain a close contact with their representatives. Opinions and needs of constituents are well communicated to their representatives since they are better able to represent them in Washington. Unlike the House of Representatives, Senators are elected for six year terms making them somehow more insulated from their people. As a result, they are less likely to be convinced to vote for short-term passions according to public opinions. (Jefferson, p78, 1820)
Congress is mandated by the constitution to organize judicial and executive branches, declare war, raise revenue, and make all laws appropriate for executing these powers among other responsibilities. As much as the president is allowed by the constitution to veto some legislative acts, Congress has the authority to overturn the president’s vetoes by the two third majorities of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The constitution therefore allows that the Senate is to consent and advise on key judicial and executive issues like appointments as well as on the ratification of treaties (Bouvier, P 120, 1910)
American Constitution has managed to successfully remain in force since its inception. This is because the Senate and the House of Representatives have at all times separated and balanced the powers of the government. As a result, the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of equality and liberty and of the state and central governments have all been taken care of. (Senate.gov, p1, 2011)
Bouvier, 1910. Institutes of American law, Volume 1. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
De Tocqueville, A., 1994. Democracy in America. Washington D.C.: Routledge Pub.
Jefferson, T., 1860. A manual of parliamentary practice for the use of the Senate of the United States of America. Washington: D & Force Pub.
rogerdarlington.me.uk, 2012. A short Guide to the American Political System [Online] Available http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/Americanpoliticalsystem.html [Accessed 5 March 5, 2012]
Senate.gov, 2011. Constitution of the United States of America [Online] Available at: http://www.senate.gov/civics/constitution_item/constitution.htm [Accessed 5 March 5, 2012]
ucc.edu, 2010. The Congress [Online] Available at: http://faculty.ucc.edu/egh-damerow/congress.htm [Accessed 5 March 2012]