Government is a key part of any society and culture. Learn more about different types of government, politics and civic issues.

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How U.S. Health Care Reform Works

U.S. health care reform didn't happen without a firestorm of controversy. With all the hubbub surrounding the bill, the actual contents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are still a mystery to many -- maybe even you.

How State Governors Work

Each state has its own head of the executive branch of government -- the state governor. But what does a state governor actually do, and how does he or she shape the lives of citizens within his or her state?

What does a lieutenant governor do?

If the governor passes away or resigns, the lieutenant governor takes over the position. But outside acting as a stand-in for such an event, what does the lieutenant governor do?

How an Attorney General Works

The attorney general of United States is our country's legal counsel. He or she advises the president and the heads of executive departments. What else does this person do?

How the Secretary of State Works

People know who the U.S. secretary of state is and probably something about what he or she does. But did you know states have them, too? How is their role in local government different?

What does a state comptroller do?

Despite some confusion about its spelling, the required duties of a state comptroller are quite clear: These money managers oversee state budgets, pay state employees, manage pensions and more.

What does a state treasurer do?

In the U.S., the state treasurer acts as the state's chief banker and money manager. Some treasurers, however, use the office as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

What does an auditor general do?

The U.S. government -- and every state in the Union -- takes in billions of dollars in tax money every year. When you have that kind of money coming in, it's easy to act recklessly. Luckily, auditors general track all these funds and make sure they're spent responsibly.

What does a county assessor do?

Would you like to know how much your house is worth? Do you want to make sure that new shed will add value to your home before you build it? County assessors help property owners in a given county determine its value -- and, in turn, the county's property tax rate.

What does a county clerk do?

If you've ever gotten married, had a child or really, ever been born, your vital records have made their way over to the county clerk's office. Could you work as a county clerk and maintain all that paperwork?

How a State's Attorney Works

You've probably seen countless legal series on television that depict large teams of attorneys representing the state. But who's the big shot in charge of those lawyers? The State's Attorney, that's who.

What does a county board president do?

Forty-eight out of 50 states have operational county governments, and the person who manages those is the county board president. Elected by fellow citizens or appointed by board members, the president impacts local and national politics.

What does a county board of commissioners do?

The county commission is the oldest form of government in the U.S. and is still common in many regions of the country. What tasks does a board of commissioners usually oversee?

How Mayors Work

Even a mayor whose job is mostly symbolic can have a lot of pull when it comes to running a city. Where does a mayor's power come from -- and does it go all the way up to the national level?

How City Councils Work

In a big city, it would be almost impossible to make decisions and solve problems by letting the entire population vote on every issue. One solution: the city council.

What does an alderman do?

In local government, officials elected to represent districts may be called aldermen, a very old term that dates back to the Anglo-Saxon days. What exactly is an alderman?

Why is the U.S. pursuing health care reform?

If you've ever butted heads with your insurance company to get a surgery covered, you understand why the U.S. is pursuing health care reform. But if you're happy with your coverage, you might wonder why the government is trying to change it.

10 Health Care Systems Around the World

In the arguments about U.S. health care reform, you'll often hear a country held up as the worst or best example of what health care can be. What is health care like around the globe?

10 Myths About Health Care Reform

If you've been watching the news or using social media, you've seen angry protesters, town hall free-for-alls and red-faced pundits -- all irate over the issue of health care reform. A lot of the hullabaloo is about "facts" that are just plain myths.

Protesting Pictures

Protesting is one way some people fight for change. See pictures of protests and learn more about this form of activism.

How Protests Work

Whether you indignantly objected when Fox canceled "Firefly" or marched around your nation's capital hoping for change, you're a protester. But would you stop paying your taxes to voice your displeasure? Would you face down a tank?

How Abortion Works

Want to see a party turn into an all-out brawl? Invite people of differing political views and bring up abortion. But for such a controversial topic, many people often know surprisingly little about the procedure behind the politics.

How Planned Parenthood Works

What goes on in other people's bedrooms has long been an issue that divides people in the United States. Planned Parenthood, provider of sexual health information and services, is no stranger to controversy.

How Senate Confirmations Work

The Senate confirmation process is a labyrinthine maze of governmental procedure, cronyism and public opinion that presidential appointees must navigate to attain high-level political positions.

10 Unsuccessful Senate Confirmations

Although the arduous Senate confirmation process can break even the strongest candidates, the vast majority of presidential appointees are ultimately confirmed. We present the cases of 10 unfortunate exceptions to that rule.