It's been a while, so here are three drawings that describe How Things Work. I can't vouch for the accuracy of any of these, as I don't have a clue how anything works. It's all string theory or donut theory or little magic homunculi pulling levers to me.
The first is The Government. This was for a Dave Barry article in the Post Magazine.
The next is The Senate, and it was for the New Yorker, back when a group of senators was threatening the "nuclear option". They may be better behaved now.
The last is Everything Else. It was for a NYer piece on conspiracies and how they comfort the idiots who believe in them.
There now, hope it's all clear. I'm working on one on The Economy, so you won't have to worry about that any more.