I think the missing piece is the document that defines the relationship that US citizens have with their government: the US Constitution. It's only a few dozen pages long!
The Constitution's purpose, the way I understand it, is to restrict the power of federal government as it synthesizes our arrangement about what federal government must do. So there is no contradiction if a person says, "The United States is the best kind of country" and also says "The current federal government is the worst federal government we've ever had."
Here, just for fun I'll paste the US Constitution in this answer.
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.
Article I (Article 1 - Legislative)
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of
the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of
1: The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen
every second Year by the People of the several States, and the
Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for
Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
2: No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to
the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the
United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of
that State in which he shall be chosen.
3: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the
several States which may be included within this Union, according to
their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the
whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a
Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all
other Persons.2 The actual Enumeration shall be made within three
Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States,
and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they
shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed
one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one
Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of
New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight,
Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five,
New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one,
Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five,
and Georgia three.
4: When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the
Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such
5: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other
Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators
from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof,3 for six Years;
and each Senator shall have one Vote.
2: Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the
first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three
Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated
at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the
Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the
Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every
second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise,
during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive
thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the
Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.4
3: No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age
of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States,
and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for
which he shall be chosen.
4: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the
Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
5: The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President
pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall
exercise the Office of President of the United States.
6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When
sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When
the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall
preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of
two thirds of the Members present.
7: Judgment in Cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to
removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office
of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party
convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment,
Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
1: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and
Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature
thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such
Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
2: The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such
Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December,5 unless they shall
by Law appoint a different Day.
1: Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and
Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall
constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn
from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of
absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House
2: Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its
Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two
thirds, expel a Member.
3: Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time
to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their
Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of
either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of
those Present, be entered on the Journal.
4: Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the
Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any
other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
1: The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for
their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury
of the United States.6 They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony
and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their
Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to
and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either
House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
2: No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he
was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of
the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments
whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person
holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of
either House during his Continuance in Office.
1: All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of
Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments
as on other Bills.
2: Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and
the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the
President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if
not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it
shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on
their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such
Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill,
it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by
which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds
of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes
of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of
the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the
Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned
by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall
have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as
if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent
its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
3: Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the
Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a
question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the
United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be
approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two
thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the
Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties,
Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common
Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties,
Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
2: To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
3: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several
States, and with the Indian Tribes;
4: To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on
the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
5: To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and
fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
6: To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and
current Coin of the United States;
7: To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
8: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for
limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their
respective Writings and Discoveries;
9: To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
10: To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high
Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make
Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that
Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
13: To provide and maintain a Navy;
14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and
15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of
the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia,
and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service
of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the
Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia
according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
17: To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over
such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of
particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of
the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority
over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the
State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts,
Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;—And
18: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying
into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by
this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any
Department or Officer thereof.
1: The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States
now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by
the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight,
but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding
ten dollars for each Person.
2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended,
unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may
3: No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
4: No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in
Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be
5: No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
6: No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or
Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall
Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or
pay Duties in another.
7: No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of
Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the
Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from
time to time.
8: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no
Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall,
without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument,
Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or
1: No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation;
grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of
Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of
Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing
the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
2: No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any
Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely
necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of
all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall
be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws
shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
3: No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of
Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any
Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or
engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as
will not admit of delay.
Article II (Article 2 - Executive)
1: The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United
States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four
Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same
Term, be elected, as follows
2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof
may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of
Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the
Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an
Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed
3: The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by
Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an
Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a
List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for
each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to
the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the
President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the
Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the
Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having
the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be
a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be
more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of
Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by
Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority,
then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like
Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes
shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having
one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or
Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the
States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice
of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of
the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain
two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by
Ballot the Vice President.8
4: The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and
the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the
same throughout the United States.
5: No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United
States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be
eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be
eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of
thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the
6: In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his
Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of
the said Office,9 the Same shall devolve on the VicePresident, and the
Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death,
Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President,
declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer
shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President
shall be elected.
7: The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a
Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during
the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not
receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States,
or any of them.
8: Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the
following Oath or Affirmation:—“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I
will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,
and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the
Constitution of the United States.”
1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of
the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when
called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require
the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the
executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of
their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves
and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of
2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the
Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present
concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent
of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and
Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the
United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided
for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by
Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think
proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads
3: The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may
happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which
shall expire at the End of their next Session. Section 3
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the
State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures
as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary
Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of
Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he
may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall
receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care
that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the
Officers of the United States. Section 4
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United
States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and
Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and
Article III (Article 3 - Judicial)
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one
supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from
time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and
inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and
shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation,
which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
1: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity,
arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and
Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all
Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to
all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to
which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two
or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;10
—between Citizens of different States, —between Citizens of the same
State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a
State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or
2: In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and
Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court
shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before
mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellateJurisdiction, both as
to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as
the Congress shall make.
3: The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be
by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said
Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any
State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may
by Law have directed.
1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying
War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and
Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the
Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in
2: The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason,
but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or
Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Article IV (Article 4 - States' Relations)
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts,
Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the
Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts,
Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
1: The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and
Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
2: A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime,
who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on
Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be
delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the
3: No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws
thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or
Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but
shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or
Labour may be due.
1: New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no
new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any
other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more
States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of
the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
2: The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful
Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property
belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall
be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of
any particular State.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a
Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against
Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive
(when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
Article V (Article 5 - Mode of Amendment)
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the
Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States,
shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either
Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this
Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of
the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the
one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;
Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One
thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first
and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that
no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage
in the Senate.
Article VI (Article 6 - Prior Debts, National Supremacy, Oaths of Office)
1: All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the
Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United
States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be
made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be
made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme
Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby,
any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary
3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members
of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial
Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall
be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no
religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office
or public Trust under the United States.
(amendments and transmittals, notes, ratification, etc. including THE BILL OF RIGHTS not shown: click this link)