An introduction

This site's founders, Mike Hauser and J. B. Cannon, grew disgusted with the sad state of civics awareness of American citizens. Between the sense of apathy pervading society, and the obvious ignorance about our founding fathers, the Constitution, and the workings of our national government, Hauser and Cannon decided it was time to do something. The result is this site. While most of their blog posts are on civics and political issues in general, you'll find they also sometimes opine on other topics as well.

Read the brilliant words of our founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and other key documents and quotes. You can also read opinion pieces by Hauser and Cannon as they sound off on a wide range of topics. In the Dubious Dogma section, you'll find some opposing viewpoints. And in the Recommended Reading section, we list books that should be on your shelf. They make terrific gifts to others as well.

Our government in a nutshell

It may shock you to learn America is not a democracy, at least not in the way pictured by many. If you say "democracy" to someone, they may picture a scenario wherein everyone gets an equal say, but that's really a direct democracy and leads to mob rule, or mobocracy as some have called it. A more accurate description of our form of government is representative republic. Our country is a collection of independent states, where we the people elect representatives to actually govern.

The blueprint for our government is the Constitution. It came about when the Federal Convention convened in May of 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation. After much debate, it became clear that the solution was to instead draft an entirely new frame of government. All summer long, the delegates worked in secret on this new document, the Constitution. Critical in their efforts was to detail the limited power of central government, how many federal representatives the states would be allowed, and how they would be elected. The framers drew inspiration from several areas, including the views of philosophers John Locke and Charles Montesquieu, common law laid out in Britain's Magna Carta, and even the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Confederacy. Their work complete, the Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The final required state ratification took place June 21, 1788, and the new government under the Constitution began operation on March 4, 1789.

The founding fathers, in their wisdom, recognized the dangers of a direct democracy and instead created a system of government made up of three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. They put in place checks and balances intended to ensure government didn't get out of control. Unfortunately, things have been corrupted to a degree, reducing the effect of the checks.

Branches of Government

The Executive Branch (the President, Vice President, Cabinet Members, and various independent agencies) makes sure the laws of the United States are obeyed. The President also serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

The Legislative Branch is made up of the two chambers of Congress and government agencies that provide assistance to and support services for the Congress. Congress makes laws, approves the coining of money, and holds the power to declare war on other countries.

The Judicial Branch is made up of the court system. The U.S. Supreme Court, established in Article III of the Constitution, is the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court's purpose is to settle disputes between states or between parties residing in different states, and to try cases pertaining to the United States, as opposed to those involving individual states.

We the people hold the ultimate power, thanks to the right to vote, but too many of our citizens fail to exercise that power. For instance, in the 2006 mid-term elections, a mere 35.7% of the voting-age population voted for U.S. Representatives! In years where we're also electing a president, this percentage climbs (a little over 60% in 2008), but if voters understood how vital a role members of Congress can play in our government, perhaps they'd get to the polls on those 'off elections' as well.