What Is Government?


Government refers to a system of rules that determine how people in a nation, state, city or town should live together. A government has a set of institutions and leaders that are responsible for a country, state or town’s laws, a court system, civil service, military, police force and financial system. A country can have a variety of different kinds of government systems, but most have three branches: the legislature, executive and judiciary. These institutions and the people that make up these systems are the pillars of a nation’s government.

One of the most important things that governments do is regulate access to common goods like natural resources. If too many people take freely from these common goods, there will be less for everyone. Governments can control the access to these resources by creating laws that limit the amount of money a person or group may earn from the resource or by providing other services that keep demand for these goods down. Governments also provide public safety, education, infrastructure for transportation and communication and health care to their citizens, among many other valuable services.

Throughout history, people have struggled to create and sustain effective, benevolent and efficient forms of government that protect their freedoms and provide them with the necessities of life. The goal of a government is to accomplish collective goals that are difficult or impossible for individuals to achieve on their own, such as economic prosperity, secure borders and the safety and security of its citizens. Most nations have some form of government that provides its citizens with the basic benefits they need to thrive.

The concept of what a government should look like has changed much throughout the centuries as new ideas and events have led to the creation of various forms. Many of the world’s countries today have a mix of different types of governments, some with kings or queens and some that are democratic republics. In the United States, the Constitution and its amendments establish how our federal government is structured.

It defines a separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of our national government, as well as how this structure will work in conjunction with the States to ensure that all citizens have an equal voice in the decision-making process. It also establishes that no law can go into effect until it has been passed through Congress and signed by the president. This means that if a law is not popular, a citizen can work to persuade the president to veto it.

The United States has a constitutional democracy in which a president and members of Congress are elected to represent the nation’s citizens on a state-by-state basis. During the Civil War, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln used the phrase, “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” which is now so familiar that many do not realize that these are relatively new concepts. Prior to this, most societies believed that governments were created by God and were a necessary evil that provided essential services for the common good.