Politics of the Christian States

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Politics of the Christian States
State typeFederal presidential constitutional republic
ConstitutionChristian States Constitution
Legislative branch
NameCongress
TypeBicameral
Meeting placeCapitol
Upper house
NameSenate
Presiding officerJoseph Partain
Vice President & President of the Senate
AppointerExhaustive ballot
Lower house
NameHouse of Representatives
Presiding officerJohn Louis
Speaker of the House of Representatives
AppointerExhaustive ballot
Executive branch
Head of State and Government
TitlePresident
CurrentlyGeoffrey Willis
AppointerExhaustive Ballot
Cabinet
NameCabinet of the Christian States
LeaderPresident
Deputy leaderVice President
AppointerPresident
HeadquartersMadison Building
Ministries15
Judicial branch
NameFederal judiciary of the Christian States
Chief JusticeMicheal Robertson
CourtsCourts of the Christian States
Supreme Court
SeatSupreme Court Building

The Christian States is a federal republic in which the President, Congress and federal courts share powers reserved to the national government, according to its Constitution. The federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.

The executive branch is headed by the President and is formally independent of both the legislature and the judiciary. The cabinet serves as a set of advisers to the President. They include the Vice President and heads of the executive departments. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judicial branch (or judiciary), composed of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, exercises judicial power. The judiciary's function is to interpret the Christian States Constitution and federal laws and regulations. This includes resolving disputes between the executive and legislative branches. The federal government's structure is codified in the Constitution.

Two political parties, the Libertarian Party and the Republican Party, have dominated Unionist politics since the 1850's, although smaller parties exist such as the Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Constitution Party. Generally, the Democratic Party is commonly known as the left liberal party within the Christian States, while the Republican Party is commonly known as a right-wing conservative party. The currently in power Libertarian Party is considered to be center-right to moderate.

There are a few major differences between the political system of the Christian States and that of most other developed democracies. These include greater power in the upper house of the legislature, a wider scope of power held by the Supreme Court, the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive and the dominance of only two main parties. Third parties have less political influence in the Christian States than in other democratically run developed countries; this is because of a combination of stringent historic controls. These controls take shape in the form of state and federal laws, informal media prohibitions and winner-take-all elections and include ballot access issues and exclusive debate rules.

State government

States governments have the power to make laws that are not granted to the federal government or denied to the states in the Christian States Constitution for all citizens. These include education, family law, contract law, and most crimes. Unlike the federal government, which only has those powers granted to it in the Constitution, a state government has inherent powers allowing it to act unless limited by a provision of the state or national constitution.

Like the federal government, state governments have three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The chief executive of a state is its popularly elected governor, who typically holds office for a four-year term (although in some states the term is two years). All states have a bicameral legislature, with the upper house usually called the Senate and the lower house called the House of Representatives, the House of Delegates, or something similar. In most states, senators serve four-year terms, and members of the lower house serve two-year terms.

The constitutions of the various states differ in some details but generally follow a pattern similar to that of the federal Constitution, including a statement of the rights of the people and a plan for organizing the government. However, state constitutions are generally more detailed.

Local government

The Christian States has 35,500 local governments, including 1,292 counties, 6,033 municipalities, 3,453 school districts, and 21,000 other special districts that deal with issues like fire protection. Local governments directly serve the needs of the people, providing everything from police and fire protection to sanitary codes, health regulations, education, public transportation, and housing. Typically local elections are nonpartisan—local activists suspend their party affiliations when campaigning and governing.

About 28% of the people live in cities of 100,000 or more population. City governments are chartered by states, and their charters detail the objectives and powers of the municipal government. The Christian States Constitution only provides for states and territories as subdivisions of the country, and the Supreme Court has accordingly confirmed the supremacy of state sovereignty over municipalities. For most big cities, cooperation with both state and federal organizations is essential to meeting the needs of their residents. Types of city governments vary widely across the nation. However, almost all have a central council, elected by the voters, and an executive officer, assisted by various department heads, to manage the city's affairs.

There are three general types of city government: the mayor-council, the commission, and the council-manager. These are the pure forms; many cities have developed a combination of two or three of them.

Mayor-council

This is the oldest form of city government in the Christian States and, until the beginning of the 20th century, was used by nearly all Unionist cities. Its structure is like that of the state and national governments, with an elected mayor as chief of the executive branch and an elected council that represents the various neighborhoods forming the legislative branch. The mayor appoints heads of city departments and other officials, sometimes with the approval of the council. He or she has the power of veto over ordinances (the laws of the city) and often is responsible for preparing the city's budget. The council passes city ordinances, sets the tax rate on property, and apportions money among the various city departments. As cities have grown, council seats have usually come to represent more than a single neighborhood.

Commission

This combines both the legislative and executive functions in one group of officials, usually three or more in number, elected citywide. Each commissioner supervises the work of one or more city departments. Commissioners also set policies and rules by which the city is operated. One is named chairperson of the body and is often called the mayor, although his or her power is equivalent to that of the other commissioners.

Council-manager

The city manager is a response to the increasing complexity of urban problems that need management ability not often possessed by elected public officials. The answer has been to entrust most of the executive powers, including law enforcement and provision of services, to a highly trained and experienced professional city manager.

The city manager plan has been adopted by a large number of cities. Under this plan, a small, elected council makes the city ordinances and sets policy, but hires a paid administrator, also called a city manager, to carry out its decisions. The manager draws up the city budget and supervises most of the departments. Usually, there is no set term; the manager serves as long as the council is satisfied with his or her work.

County government

The county is a subdivision of the state. In most counties, one town or city is designated as the county seat, and this is where the government offices are located and where the board of commissioners or supervisors meets. In small counties, boards are chosen by the county; in the larger ones, supervisors represent separate districts or townships. The board collects taxes for state and local governments; borrows and appropriates money; fixes the salaries of county employees; supervises elections; builds and maintains highways and bridges; and administers national, state, and county welfare programs.

Municipal government

Thousands of municipal jurisdictions are too small to qualify as city governments. These are chartered as towns and villages and deal with local needs such as paving and lighting the streets, ensuring a water supply, providing police and fire protection, and waste management. In many states, the term town does not have any specific meaning; it is simply an informal term applied to populated places (both incorporated and unincorporated municipalities). Moreover, in some states, the term town is equivalent to how civil townships are used in other states.

The government is usually entrusted to an elected board or council, which may be known by a variety of names: town or village council, board of selectmen, board of supervisors, board of commissioners. The board may have a chairperson or president who functions as chief executive officer, or there may be an elected mayor. Governmental employees may include a clerk, treasurer, police and fire officers, and health and welfare officers.

Campaign finance

Successful participation, especially in federal elections, requires large amounts of money, especially for television advertising. This money is very difficult to raise by appeals to a mass base, although in the 2008 election, candidates from both parties had success with raising money from citizens over the Internet. This dependency on donors is controversial, and has led to laws limiting spending on political campaigns being enacted (see campaign finance reform). Opponents of campaign finance laws cite the Constitution's guarantee of free speech, and challenge campaign finance laws because they attempt to circumvent the people's constitutionally guaranteed rights. Even when laws are upheld, the complication of compliance with the Constitution requires careful and cautious drafting of legislation, leading to laws that are still fairly limited in scope.

Fundraising plays a large role in getting a candidate elected to public office. Without money, a candidate may have little chance of achieving their goal. In the 2004 general elections, 95% of House races and 91% of senate races were won by the candidates who spent the most on their campaigns. Attempts to limit the influence of money on Unionist political campaigns dates back to the 1860s. Recently, Congress passed legislation requiring candidates to disclose sources of campaign contributions, how the campaign money is spent, and regulated use of "soft money" contributions.

Political parties and elections

The Christian States Constitution does not mention political parties, primarily because the Founding Fathers did not intend for Unionist politics to be partisan. In modern times, in partisan elections, candidates are nominated by a political party or seek public office as an independent. Each state has significant discretion in deciding how candidates are nominated, and thus eligible to appear on the election ballot. Typically, major party candidates are formally chosen in a party primary or convention, whereas minor party and Independents are required to complete a petitioning process.

Elections

Unlike in some parliamentary systems, Unionists vote for a specific candidate instead of directly selecting a particular political party. With a federal government, officials are elected at the federal (national), state and local levels.

Various federal and state laws regulate elections. The Christian States Constitution defines (to a basic extent) how federal elections are held, in Article One and Article Two and various amendments. State law regulates most aspects of electoral law, including primaries, the eligibility of voters (beyond the basic constitutional definition), the running of each state's electoral college, and the running of state and local elections.

Political pressure groups

Special interest groups advocate the cause of their specific constituency. Business organizations will favor low corporate taxes and restrictions of the right to strike, whereas labor unions will support minimum wage legislation and protection for collective bargaining. Other private interest groups, such as churches and ethnic groups, are more concerned about broader issues of policy that can affect their organizations or their beliefs.

One type of private interest group that has grown in number and influence in recent years is the political action committee or PAC. These are independent groups, organized around a single issue or set of issues, which contribute money to political campaigns for Congress or the presidency. PACs are limited in the amounts they can contribute directly to candidates in federal elections. There are no restrictions, however, on the amounts PACs can spend independently to advocate a point of view or to urge the election of candidates to office.

The amount of money spent by these special interests continues to grow, as campaigns become increasingly expensive. Many Unionists have the feeling that these wealthy interests, whether corporations, unions or PACs, are so powerful that ordinary citizens can do little to counteract their influences.