The answer is, in fact, more than you think.
Most Americans learned about the U. S. federal government in grade school. Americans have been taught that this republic had three major governmental branches, legislative, executive and judicial. Indeed. In fact the first three articles of the U. S. Constitution detail the structure and responsibilities of each branch in exactly that order, starting with the legislative branch.
All Americans know this, right? Nope. Most Americans? Maybe. No data is available.
Did you know that the Constitution only has 7,481 words? Anyone can read the whole thing over lunch. Amazing. So why don’t more people do that? Some say that having been written more than 200 years ago, it’s dated and irrelevant to the modern world. Others just couldn’t be bothered. That’s unfortunate because the founding fathers put an extraordinary thought and effort into creating this “more perfect union.” Understand the British crown considered Jefferson, Adams and the rest of the founders as treasonous for declaring independence. If they could have gotten their hands on any one of them back in 1776, they would have likely been put to death.
The words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution stir the hearts of millions of citizens and inspire millions who aspire to be to move far away from their roots to join the American melting pot. Just read the Preamble.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Again, amazing. Reading past the preamble, each of just seven Articles spells out the federal government’s responsibilities and reserves everything it doesn’t deal with to each state’s authorities. That’s how things started but it’s not how things work today.
So the Constitution states that the United States has just three branches of government. Is that all there are? Nope. There are others, and while they might not have any official governmental authority, they do effect every citizen in this country.
Those will be examined in the next series of posts.