Part A:                Elements of Government


                A number of basic elements are common to all governments.  They are rules of conduct, sovereignty, legitimacy, jurisdiction, and enforcement. 

1.        Rules of conduct – rules to govern the lives of its members

2.        Sovereignty – the supreme power of authority.   The source of authority varies:

a.        Divine Right – authority comes from God

b.       Democracy – people are the chief source of governmental authority

c.        Anarchism – view that all forms of government are not necessary.

d.       Autocracy – one person controls all branches of the government

e.        Communism – philosophy that the government must control all economic activities.  The opposing philosophy is capitalism.

f.         Despotism – ruler has unlimited power

g.       Fascism – government that controls both the economic and social activities of its

                 Inhabitants, but allows private ownership of land.

h.       Totalitarianism – government dictates and determines all personal liberties

3.        Legitimacy – the acceptance by the people of the government’s authority.  An atmosphere of

        tyranny may exist if the rulers assume unrestricted powers without the favor of its citizens.

4.        Jurisdiction – the right or power of a government to make and enforce rules or laws over the

people who live in a certain area.  The two most extreme forms of jurisdiction are anarchism where the elimination of all public government is favored and totalitarianism where total loyalty to the government is demanded.



A1.  Name for the idea that governments got their unlimited authority from God?

A2.  Name for the type of government where the people grant its authority?

A3.  The most extreme view that all public governments conflict with personal liberties?

A4.  The opposite of anarchism?

A5.  Name for type of government were there is rule by one person who has complete control?

A6.  Name for the form of government which has absolute control over all economic activities?

A7.  Name for the economic philosophy which favors private businesses?

A8.  Term meaning a strongly nationalistic movement which favors governmental control of economic and   

        social activity, but which encourages private ownership of land?

A9.  A term used to describe a government whose rulers have unrestricted powers?

A10. Term meaning the supreme power of a country over its own affairs?




                                                                     Part B:  Executive Branch


                The U.S. Constitution provides our government with three separate branches of government:

 (1) the executive;  (2) the legislative which makes laws; and (3) the judicial which rules on the Constitutionality of our laws.  These three branches represent the principle of separation of powers in order to keep any one branch of our government from becoming too powerful.  The executive branch is headed by the  chief executive or President.  The first President was George Washington who was a Federalist and our current President is Bill Clinton who is a Democrat.  A president is voted into office by a majority vote of the electoral college which is suppose to reflect the wishes of the citizens.  A Presidential term of office is 4 years, and (after Franklin Roosevelt died) it was decided that a president may be elected to no more than two consecutive 4 year terms.  Franklin Roosevelt was the only President elected to office for four consecutive terms.  If a President dies in office he is succeeded by the Vice-president and then the Speaker of the House.





B1:  Name of the principle behind our three branches of government?

B2:  The Supreme Court falls under what branch of government?

B3:   What branch of our government passes laws?

B4:  Name of the current head of the executive branch of Congress?

B5:  What is the party affiliation of our current chief executive?

B6:  Name of the first head of the executive branch of Congress?

B7:  How many consecutive terms may a President now serve?

B8:  Who was the only president to win more than two consecutive presidential elections?

B9:  How long is one term of a president?

B10: Who assumes the presidency if the incumbent president dies in office?

B11: If the president and vice-president should both die, who becomes president?





                                                       Part C:    Legislative Branch


          The legislature is the law making branch of the United States government or Congress.

It has the power to pass laws, called statues, which the citizens of the United States must obey.  The legislative branch can override a presidential veto with 2/3 majority vote from both houses of Congress.   As a result this branch often has more power that the chief executive and can control his (or her) activities.  However, in the United States the chief executive holds office for a fixed length of time even without the support of a majority of the legislative branch.

                The legislative branch of the United States C9ongress (and also every state legislature except the state of Nebraska) is divided into two separate chambers – called a bicameral legislature.  The two chambers are the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Both houses must approve a bill before it becomes a law.  US Senators are elected for six-year terms and may hold office for an unlimited number of terms if they win the election.  The Senate is composed of 100 Senators.  The current Senators from the state of California are Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, both democrats.  The House of Representatives is based on population and currently has 435 members.  Members of the House hold office for two-year terms with no restriction on the number of terms they may serve if elected. Our local member of Congress is Steven Kuykendal.

                The legislature in California also has two chambers with 40 members in the state senate and 80 members in the assembly.  The executive branch is held by our current governor, Gray Davis, who is a Democrat.  Our local assemblyperson is Alan Lowenthal who is also affiliated with the Democratic Party.



C1:  What famous document governs the actions of the legislative branch of Congress?

C2:  What is it called when the legislature overrules an ordinance signed by the president?

C3:  Another term meaning the laws passed by Congress?

C4:  Another term used to mean the word “President”?

C5:  Name for the law-making branch of government?

C6:  The length of the term to which a president is elected in any one election?

C7:  Both United State Senators from California currently belong to this political party?

C8:  Number of seats in the United States Senate?

C9:  Number of seats in the United States House of Representatives?

C10: Name our current United States Senators.

C11: Which chamber of Congress is divided among the states according to population?

C12: In which chamber of Congress is each state equally represented?

C13: Which state in the United States has a one house legislature?

C14: A two house legislative body is known as what?

C15:  How long is one term of a United States Senator?

C16:  For how long do members of the House of Representatives hold their position in the US Congress? C17: What is the necessary majority to override a presidential ruling?

C18:  How many seats are there in the California State Assembly?

C19: How many seats are there in the California State Senate?

C20:  The head of the executive branch of the California state government is called what?

C21:  Name the current governor of California?

C22:  Name our current local assemblyman?






Part D:  Judicial Branch


          The third branch of the United States Congress  is the judicial branch or the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation and it determines whether federal, state, and local governments are acting according to the Constitution of the United States.  The rules of the Supreme Court are established by the Constitution and the Court then interprets its meaning.   

          Article III of the Constitution provided for the creation of the Supreme Court, stated its limits of jurisdiction, and also determined how it was to be organized.  Since 1869 it has consisted of nine members – one Chief Justice and eight associate justices.  These justices are appointed by the President with the consent and advice of the Senate.  Once appointed, a judge remains in office for life or until he or she retires.   The current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is William H. Rehnquist.  The first woman on the Supreme Court was Sandra O’Conner.



D1:  The Supreme Court represents what branch of Congress?

D2:  What is the highest court in our nation?
D3:  What determines the rulings of the Supreme Court?

D4:  How many members sit on the Supreme Court?

D5:  Who appoints the Supreme Court Justices?

D6:  What body must approve Supreme Court appointees?

D7:  How long is the term of a Supreme Court Justice?

D8:  Who is the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

D9:  Who was the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court?

D10: The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is outlined in what Article of the Constitution?




Part E:  Political Parties


         The members of the legislative and executive branches in the United States Congress represent different political parties with different political ideologies.  The political parties perform several important tasks such as selecting candidates to run for office, providing opposition to the party in power, and raising funds for campaigns.  

          In the United States the party leaders were originally selected in meetings called caucuses, but this became unpopular and was replaced by the convention system in 1840.  Again to prevent party bosses and political machine from gaining control of the conventions, all states have now adopted primary elections as their method of selecting candidates.  These primary elections can either be closed – voter gets a ballet only for the party to which he belongs, or open - voter receives ballots of all parties.

          The first major political parties were the Federalists who supported a strong national government.  After the Federalist party died out the Anti-Federalists, who later changed their name to the Democratic Party, took majority control until the beginning of the Civil War in 1860 at which time the Republican Party took hold.   The first Republican candidate for president was John Fremont and first Republican elected president was Abraham Lincoln. The Republican Party dominated the party system from 1860 to 1932 with only two Democratic Presidents winning office during this time span – Grover Cleveland in 1884 and Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916.  However, after the stock market crash of 1929 the Republican Party lost favoritism with the voters and the Democrats then held the Presidency and controlled both houses of Congress from 1933 to 1953.  The last four Democratic presidents have been Kennedy in 1960, Johnson in 1964, Carter in l976, and currently Bill Clinton.

          There have been many third parties in the United States but none of them ever won the presidency.  A few of the more prominent third parties include the Dixiecrats in 1948, the Prohibition Party, and the Reform Party of Ross Perot in 1992.



E1:  Name for an organized group of people who control or seek to control a government?

E2:  Small group of persons who selected political candidates in dark smoky rooms?

E3:  System used to nominate candidates after 1840?

E4:  Type of election held by states to elect candidates?

E5:  A type of primary election where voters can vote for any candidate?

E6:  Type of primary where voter is restricted to only candidates of his declared party?

E7:  Name the two current major political parties in the United States?

E8:  Name of the political party established after the Civil War?

E9:  Name of the event that occurred in 1929 that established dominance of the Democrats?

E10: Political party of Bill Clinton?

E11: Name of last Republican President?

E12: Number of times a third political party has won a presidential election?

E13: Name of person who ran as a third party candidate in 1992 against Bill Clinton and Bob Doyle?

E14:  Name of Ross Perot’s political party?

E15:  For what reason was the Prohibition Party organized?