Democratic citizens have obligations, not just rights

dismantle corporate powerI don’t know why this important US Department of State document is housed on a Taiwanese website. but I like how it lays out the Citizen Responsibilities in a Democracy. Some of the juicier exerpts are:

Citizenship in a democracy requires participation, civility, and even patience.

Democratic citizens recognize that they not only have rights, they have responsibilities. They recognize that democracy requires an investment of time and hard work — a government of the people demands constant vigilance and support by the people.

…Democratic citizens know that they must bear the burden of responsibility for their society if they are to benefit from its protection of their rights.

There is a saying in free societies: you get the government you deserve. For democracy to succeed, citizens must be active, not passive, because they know that the success or failure of the government is their responsibility, and no one else’s. In turn, government officials understand that all citizens should be treated equally and that bribery has no place in a democratic government.

…Democracies need more than an occasional vote from their citizens to remain healthy. They need the steady attention, time, and commitment of large numbers of their citizens who, in turn, look to the government to protect their rights and freedoms.

This is what I often tell people are the obligations of citizens in a democracy. We must:

  • Educate ourselves about the matters and issues facing our society
  • Voice our opinions about them
  • Hold our elected representatives accountable for decisions made on our behalf; and
  • We must vote

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