Purpose of Government


  • What are laws?

    • Laws are rules and regulations of the government that must be followed by citizens

  • Why do we have laws?

    • Establish standards

    • Maintain order

    • Resolve disputes/conflict

    • Protect liberties and rights

  • What’s “rule of law”?

    • The law should govern the nation

    • Everyone is subject to the same set of rules, including government officials

What are the purposes of government?

There are many types of governments (dictatorships, democracy, communist) in the world but generally, all governments seek to do the following, even if they do these in different ways:

  • Establish laws

    • Democracy: Rule of law

    • No one should be “above the law”

    • Government has the authority punish those who break the law

  • Maintain order and security

    • Ensure safety and protect people from harm

  • Protect from external threats

    • Preventing foreign attacks

    • Diplomacy, military

  • Provide for general welfare

    • Happiness, health and prosperity of citizens

    • Healthcare, education, etc.

The U.S. is a representative democracy based on the U.S. Constitution

"We the People..."

These branches of government represent a separation of powers and they check each other’s power (checks and balances).

The U.S. government is a constitutional /democratic republic that tries to represent the needs of their citizens.

It is a representative democracy.

We vote for our representatives; democracy = people

What rights do all individuals have?

  • The government protects individual rights of all citizens

  • Citizens can vote, petition the government, run for office, and enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”

  • Our Founding Fathers wanted to preserve individual “inalienable (or natural) rights” of citizens

  • The Bill of Rights were 10 amendments that were added to the Constitution that guaranteed more rights/freedoms/rights (1791)

Thought Bubble

Think about how the government works to protect your rights and jot some ideas down.

Do you think the U.S. government does a good job in protecting the rights of all people equally? If not, explain why.

Why are these freedoms and rights so important to protect and maintain?

Try this quiz!

Once you're done, check your answers below.