Trope-a-Day (R): The Alliance

The Alliance: The Conclave of Galactic Polities.  Which sounds like it runs the Galaxy, actually in theory runs the relatively small chunk of the Galaxy called the Associated Worlds, and in actual practice does so slightly less well than the United Nations runs Earth.  But it is spectacularly less pretentious about it, which helps, as does the fact that at least four of the five star nations powerful enough to get a seat on the Presidium agree on – if nothing else – that while they like its authority kept solid enough to make communications, trade, IP law, borders, and the conventions of civilized warfare work, they also like it kept tenuous enough so as not to significantly interfere with their arguably sacred sovereign right to do whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they feel like doing it, as long as it doesn’t totally screw up the interstellar status quo.