Suprises often come in boxes. Birthday presents wrapped in colorful paper, brown paper packages mailed from a friend. No matter what kind of box it is, people like to open it up and see whats inside. In America, and in many other countries, one special kind of box contains the future. Its called a ballot box. What people put into the box on election day can change the course oflustory
Elections are the lifeblood of a democracy. The word democracy literally means the people rule, an important concept in Americas history. In the mid-1700s, England began passing laws that made the American colorues angry. The colonists had to pay more and more taxes and enjoyed less and less freedom. They felt the govemment of England didnt represent their interests. On July 4, 1776, the colonies declared their independence from England. They wanted to establish a democracy where people could have a voice in government.
An effective democracy holds regular elections. In Amcrica, elections are held every two years for members of Congress. In these elections, all seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate seats are up for grabs. In addition, every four years, voters go to the poUs to elect the nations president and vice-president. Voters also regularly cast their ballots for state and city government leaders and local school board members. Sometimes they also have to vote on a proposed law.
In the American electoral system, people dont really vote for presidential c:indldates. Instead, voters cast their ballots for electorswho support each candidate. Each state has as many electors as the total number of its representatives in Congress. This equals two senators per state plus the number ofits representatives in the House (which is based on the states population). The candidate who has the most votes in a state wins all of the states electors.To win the presidentrial election, a candidate must Sain at least 270 0f the 538 total electoral votes.
Over the years, the U.S. has made a number of election reforms.Some early reforms outlawed cheating, giving bribes and threatening voters. They also limited the amount of money candidates could receive from donors and spend on theircampaigns. In 1870, black people gained the right to vote, and in 1920, that right was extended to women. In recent decades, laws against unfair rules for voting have been passed.No longer do people have to pay a special tax or pass a test in order to vote.In 1971, the voting age was lowered t0 18. Other reforms made votmg easier for the blind, the disabled and people who couldnt read. In some areas, ballots had to be printed in languages besides English.
多年来，美国在选举方面做了一些改革。早期有些改革禁止作弊、收受贿赂或威胁选民。他们也限制候选人从捐赠者那儿获得的金额数目及花在竞选宣传上的费用.1870年，黑人获得选举权0 1920年，选举权利延伸至妇女那里.近几十年来，通过了一些反对不公平选举规则的法律. 人们不再需要付特殊的税或通过测验才能选举。1971年，投票的年龄降至18岁。其他的改革减轻了盲人、残障者及文盲投票的困难。在某些地区，选票上面除了英文以外，还必须印上别的文字。
In November, Americans will again elect those who will represent them in government.Although some citizens arent even registered to vote-and some registered voters dont bother to go to the polls-most Americans exercise their right to vote. They realize that their future is wrapped up in a special package-the ballot box. Its a package that must definitely be handled with care.
An American friend has invited you to visit his family. Youve never been to an Americans home before, and youre not sure what to do.Should you take a gift How should you dress What time should you arrive What should you do when you get there Glad you asked. When youre the guest, you should just make yourself at home. Thats what hospitality is all about: making people feel at home when theyre not.
The question of whether or not to bring a gift often makes guests squirm. Giving your host a gift is not just a social nicety in some cultures-its expected. But in American culture , a guest is not obligated to bring a present, Of course, some people do bring a small token of appreciation to their host. Appropriate gifts for general occasions might be flowers, candy or-if the family has small childrentoys. If you choose not to bring a gift, dont worry. No one will even notice.
American hospitality begins at home-especially when it involves food. Most Americans agree that good home cooking beats restaurant food any day. When invited for a meal, you might ask, Can I bring anythingUnless its. a potluck, where everyone brings a_dish, the host will probably respond, No,just yourself. For most informal dinners, you should wear comfortable, casual clothes. Plan to arrive on time, or else call to inform your hosts of the delay. During the dinner conversation:its customary to compliment the hostess on the wonderful meal. Of course, the biggest compliment is to eat lots of food!
美国人的待客之道从家里开始尤其是和食物有关。大多数美国人都同意，无论如何，好的家常菜胜过餐馆的菜。受邀吃饭时，你或许问：我可以带些什么吗 除非是每人带道菜的聚餐，否则主人很可能会回答： 不用，你来就可以了. 大多数非正式的聚餐，你应该穿舒适、轻便的衣服。设法准时到，否则打电话告诉主人你会晚点到。用餐时，习惯上，人们会称赞女主人烹调的美食。当然，最大的赞美是多吃!
When youve had plenty, you might offer to clear the table or wash the dishes. But since youre the guest, your hosts may not let you. Instead, they may invite everyone to move to the living room for dessert with tea or coffee. After an hour or so of general chitchat, its probably time to head for the door. You dont want to wear out your welcome. And above all,dont go snooping around the house. Its more polite to wait for the host to offer you a guided tour. But except for housewarmings, guests often dont get past the living room.
Americans usually like to have advance notice when people come to see them. Only very close friends drop by unannounced. This is especially true if the guests want to stay for a few days. Heres a good ruleof thumb for house guests: Short stays are best. As one 19th century French writer put it, The first day a man is a guest, the second a burden, the third a pest. Even relatives dont usually stay for several weeks at a time.While youre staying with an Amencan family, try to keep your living area neat and tidy. Your host family will appreciate your consideration.And they may even invite you back!
Most Americans consider themselves hospitable people. Folks in the southem United States, m particular, take pride in entertaining guests.In fact,southern hospitality has become legendary. But in all parts of America, people welcome their guests with open arms. So dont be surprised to find the welcome mat out for you. Just dont forget to wipe your feet.
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