Top 5 Things Students Should Know About Politics


Anne Rutherford, Reporter

With the 2020 presidential election taking place, It is important for the young generation to understand what it is they are participating in. It is alright not to have a vast knowledge of politics, for most Americans don’t. It is however, necessary to understand the basics before learning more in depth.  

Here are the top 5 things that EVERYBODY, not just the millenials should know: 


  1. Congress holds the real power, not the president. 

Congress has the role of chief legislative body in the US. (meaning it has the power to make laws) It is composed of the senate and the house of representatives and is a system in which three powerful branches of government: The legislative (makes laws), the executive (exercises them) and the judiciary (interprets them). The president plays a crucial role in the executive branch, but overall does not have the power to override congress. A common misconception is that the president holds more power than congress. The president represents the people and the US government, and acts with the approval. He/she cannot declare war, make laws, interpret them, etc without senate approval. A metaphor with a negative connotation (that holds truth), would be a dog on a leash. The president being the dog, given free reign and congress as the walker, overseeing his actions and ready to pull back if it is at risk to itself and foregn relations. 


  1. The supreme court has the last say 

The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of the justice system. It is the last resort and decisions are mostly not subjected to further review beyond. One of the biggest roles of the supreme court is to ensure that each branch of government recognizes the limits of its power. According to James Madison who serves as the fourth president of the United States, essentially the supreme court ensures that the changing views of the majority do not undermine the fundamental values common to all Americans: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. 


  1. The federal government spends its money on three main things 

The chief way the federal government gets its money is through taxation, and 76% of the money spent goes to social security, medicare, and the military. This is important because regardless of which party is in power, most of the money the government spends will go to these three. 


  1. The political party is designed to make changes very difficult 

Politics can be a very dirty business. It can be filled with corrupt politics whose ideas are so radical that they seek fundamental change. Luckily, the framers of the constitution picked up on this and made it so that changes would be a long and difficult process. If a politician seeks to make a change, a bill is like an early version, or a draft, of the proposed law. The bill has to be voted on by both houses of Congress and must be of two-thirds majority. If they both vote for the bill to become a law, the bill is sent to the President of the United States. If the President signs the bill, it becomes a law. If the President decides not to sign the bill into law, it is called a veto and the bill is sent back to Congress. Congress can override the veto with a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate. The bill would then become a law

  1. Be familiar with the people you want running your country 

And lastly, take the time to get to know the candidates, or any politician that holds a visible amount of power. Particularly during election season, you don’t have to go way out of your way, just understand their politics and what they say they want to achieve. Also don’t limit yourself to just the candidate that you support. Do research on all of them so you can understand their viewpoints. Acquiring the knowledge of multiple perspectives will make for a more interesting debate and comparing and contrasting the candidates will always make for a fun discussion.