The main role of government is to make rules for everyone to live by and then ensure that these rules are followed. Government also makes sure that people have the things they need like food, shelter and education. Governments have existed for thousands of years and they come in many different forms. But all governments have the same central function of protecting their citizens. Governments are made up of three branches: the legislative, executive and judicial. Each of these branches has its own set of responsibilities and rules that must be followed.
Governments began as people recognized that it was easier to protect themselves if they stayed together in groups and agreed that one person had more power than others. This recognition is called sovereignty. Governments have evolved to provide a variety of services and benefits for their citizens. These services include providing protection in the form of police and military, creating laws that can be enforced by the courts, and providing educational opportunities such as schools, colleges and universities. Governments are also responsible for managing public resources such as forests, parks and wildlife. Governments regulate access to common goods such as natural resources, water and air, so that all people can have them in limited supply. For example, if too many people take too freely from a resource such as wildlife or wilderness areas, the supply will run out and only the government can manage access to it.
People decide how their governments are structured by electing representatives to local city councils and township boards of supervisors as well as state legislatures and Congress. These bodies then make laws to manage their respective jurisdictions (areas of control). Governments are also responsible for raising money through taxes on income, property and sales. Then they draft budgets that determine how the money will be spent. This includes paying for school districts, fire departments, and mail carriers.
The founding fathers of the United States designed a system of government to make sure it would work well. Their plan is known as the Constitution and it separates the powers of the federal government into the legislative, executive and judicial branches. History has taught them that giving one branch too much power caused big problems, so they created a system of checks and balances to prevent this from happening. The president can veto legislation passed by Congress and the Supreme Court can overturn laws that are not constitutional. This system allows for majority rule while still respecting the rights of minorities and ensuring that those in office are accountable to their constituents. It is these principles that make the United States unique among nations around the world.