The Doer, the Writer, and the Reader

A decorated three-layer cake on a platter. Titled "tarta de no-cupleaños," meaning "un-birthday cake."
]1 Tarta de no-cupleaños by a_marga under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.

Occasional polls show that people don’t know the three branches of the US government. Today I will be explaining them like I’m five. Err. I’ll be explaining them like you’re five.

The Why

Remember when you wanted a puppy and you asked your mum and she said yes if your dad says so, but then you asked your dad and he said yes if your mum says so? Well we needed a better way than that to run a big old country so we made a government.

But mum isn’t queen and dad is no king (even if he does a mean Elvis impersonation), so we wanted to make the government spread its power out so that it had to fight with itself on hard decisions. To do that we made three parts: the doer, the writer, and the reader.

My favorite analogy for these things is baking, so let’s say we’re making a cake.

The Doer

The doer is elected and called president. She mows the lawn and does the laundry and watches the football game. He reads you your bedtime story and does the grocery shopping and all that.

But the doer doesn’t get to just decide to mow the lawn any time she wants. No. She has to do it when the writer tells her to.

The doer is the one that gathers ingredients, mixes the cake batter, bakes it, and ices it. She also decides how much cake everyone gets, as instructed by the writer.

The Writer

The writer is elected and called legislator or either senator or representative. It is a bunch of people from all over the country. They get chosen to go to Washington, D.C. and be writers. They listen to what people say and then write what they think will fix it.

Like when you get sick and we go to the doctor’s office and she listens and then says, “you have to drink some yucky crap twice a day for a couple weeks.” And then he writes it on a pad and we go get the medicine.

But sometimes the doer and the writer disagree. The writer might say we have to eat all our vegetables but we don’t like them. So we have to have someone to figure out if we really have to eat them all.

The writer is the one that comes up with the ingredient list, the recipe and directions, chooses the type of cake to make, and how to decide who gets how much of it.

The Reader

The reader is not elected, and is called a judge or justice. The doer picks who will be judge and the writer decides if she wants to agree. The reader decides what the law actually says. She reads the law and hears the arguments about it and then makes up her mind who is right.

He also listens to other cases, like if someone forgot to put their toys away and one got broken when someone stepped on it. But he does not do the punishing, he tells the doer to do it.

The reader is the one that oversees the cake making to make sure the doer washes her hands, that the writer doesn’t ask for a completely inedible cake with crayons and glue, and so on.


It gets more complicated from there. But the basic government we have is a doer, a writer, and a reader. Executive, legislative, and judicial.

And we, the people, are the ones that eat the cake. Good or bad, well made or a horror, we eat the cake. Bones and all.