One of the debate issues that always manage to stay alive in America is the role of the government in the society. The answer to this question even gives us clues into the potential political affiliation of an individual. Some believe the government’s role should be limited to creation and enforcement of laws while others argue government can play an important role in the economic affairs. The debate has proven so difficult to settle that even the highest court of the land, Supreme Court is sometimes forced to intervene as was the case with Obamacare. This is why democracy is an ideal political system because while it gives government power to create and enforce laws as well as intervene in the economy from time to time, it also holds the government accountable to the people.
One purpose of government is to create and enforce laws. Government also exists to provide public goods that may not be provided by private sector. Such public goods include education, healthcare for low income, security, and national defense. Sometimes private sector avoids certain activities due to poor economics in which case government provides incentives to invest in the future as has been the case with incentives for renewable energy sources. The government also collects tax revenues to fund government operations and other projects of public interest. The government also serves as public representative in dealing with foreign countries.
The actions of the people living in the U.S., especially citizens encourage the government to achieve its purposes in several ways. First of all, residents pay taxes which not only fund government operations but also help the government provide public goods and services as well as invest in other projects of national interest. The citizens also engage in commercial activities which help grow the economy and increase government economic and political leverage at international level. The citizens also engage in voting process to help elect capable officials that can effectively manage local, state, and national affairs. The citizens also offer their opinions and suggestions on matters of national interest which influence public policy making at both state and national levels as was recently witnessed with the vetoing of discrimination law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
Even though America is one of the freest countries as well as one of the most vibrant democracies, democracy is not perfect even in this country. First of all, money matters even in politics which allow rich class and corporation to promote the interests of the few at the expense of the many. Money is also needed to run for political office which discourage otherwise many capable and honest citizens from running for office. The citizens’ ability to influence the government is also limited by the fact that government secrets are not always known to the public, often in the name of national security. Similarly, ordinary Americans may also be limited in their ability to promote national economic interests if the tax policies work against them. For example, high income tax rates reduce the incentive for hard work. The citizens sometimes also can do little to prevent the government from assisting the guilty in matters of national interests as happens when government bails out large corporations whose very actions created the crisis.
It is clear that public is divided on the potential roles and responsibilities of government but it is difficult to imagine a country being efficiently run without a government. A government creates laws and imposes them. A government may also provide economic incentives to promote economic activity in the private sector. But even the best democracies may not be perfect. Money matters in state and national politics even in America. Similarly, government is sometimes forced to take unpopular actions in the best interests of the country even though they may not be ethically right in certain manner.