What is America?
America the beautiful. Land of the free. Home of the brave.
That is how people around the world and here at home describe America but how did it get this way?
First, let’s talk about what America is and is not. America was not founded on a common ethnicity or religion that unites Americans as a common identity. Rather, America was founded on a set of beliefs and convictions providing its people certain unalienable rights, which are rights that the government cannot take away. These rights are embedded in the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution.
To be an American has nothing to do with bloodlines and genealogy and everything to do with embracing these certain inalienable right.
Now that we covered the fundamentals, let's take a look at America as it exists today. The United States of America is a big place. It is presently a nation of about 310 million people spanning 2,800 miles from the east coast to the west coast and containing 1.9 billion acres.
By comparison, mainland China, another big country, is a nation of about 1.4 billion people spanning 3,100 miles from the east to west containing 2.4 billion acres.
But back to present day America, just as the country's name suggest, it is made up of 50 different States that are united in a singular union. Hence, the name: the United… States… of America--makes sense, right? The 50 States include the 48 Continental States, which consist of the States that are contiguous to each other aka connected by land plus 2 additional non-contiguous states--Alaska and Hawaii.
America's capital is in Washington D.C., which strange as it seems, is a separate entity from the 50 States--it is not considered a state at all. D.C. or the District of Columbia was intentionally created to be a city that belongs to no particular state, and it is still this way today. The rationale for this was since America's founding fathers were from differing states and made D.C. as a place for them and future American leaders to govern and go back to their respective home states. It was not meant to be a place for people to live. It was not until later that people populated the area en masse.
Since America is such a large country, it is useful to think of America as grouped into 4 different regions from a cultural perspective:
1. The Northeast, which includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
2. The Midwest, which includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.
3. The South, claiming the most states, includes Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma.
4. The West, which includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii.
While America is contains 50 separate states, each governed by their own state government, America also includes a separate federal government that also governs the nation as a whole.
Sounds overly complicated? There’s actually a reason that both a state and federal government exists and the answer is our founding fathers were very concerned with the concept of “separation of powers” and creating a system of checks and balances to guard against any one branch of government from becoming too powerful. Bifurcating governance and diversifying powers between the federal and state government acts as an added security measure to limit government power.
What happens if state laws conflict with federal laws? The answer lies within Article VI of the US Constitution, more commonly known as the Supremacy Clause, which dictates that federal law is the “supreme law of the land.”
The easiest way to understand state versus federal laws is that anything that isn’t governed by federal law is governed by state laws. This is why you can have 50 different laws on anything ranging from abortion, emissions standards, to even something like the age of consent.
While we haven’t covered everything, we hope this video helps you better understand America today!
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What is America? An Animated Short About What Makes Up America. l 美国是什么？关于美国各组成部分的动画短片。
2ND GEN2021/02/19 15:38:23 (UTC)647