Prepare: Prior to writing your initial post, read Chapters 1 and 2 of American Government and review the Week 1 Instructor Guidance. Reflect: The U.S. Constitution is the cornerstone of our federal government. The Constitution establishes a basic operational framework that enables the three branches of government—executive, legislative, and judicial—to interact and function as a unit. Embedded in this operational framework are two key principles: separation of powers and a system of checks and balances. Think about how these branches interact and the importance of these checks and balances and the separation of powers. Write: In your initial post, please fully and directly respond to the following: Explain the difference between checks and balances and the separation of powers, and explain why they are important to our democracy. Discuss one recent real-world example of checks and balances, and explain the impact of it. Discuss one recent real-world example of balance of power, and explain the impact of it. Discuss one recent real-world example of how the Constitution directly protects individual and group rights. Your initial post must be at least 300 words. If you are citing statistics or outside sources for your examples, please list the website or the reference entry.