Thursday, September 17, 2015

American Rights AND Responsibilities

Democracy is a pain in the neck.  

For democracy  to work, we have to work.

I know, we tend to focus on our rights as Americans more than on our responsibilities.  But immigrants who apply for citizenship also learn the responsibilities.  Maybe that's why Republicans want to keep them out of the country. 

From the United States Citizenship and  Immigration Services:



  • Freedom to express yourself.
  • Freedom to worship as you wish.
  • Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
  • Right to vote in elections for public officials.
  • Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
  • Right to run for elected office.
  • Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
  • Support and defend the Constitution.
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
  • Participate in the democratic process.
  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
  • Participate in your local community.
  • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
  • Serve on a jury when called upon.
  • Defend the country if the need should arise.

A full one-third of the responsibilities they list involve active involvement and learning:
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
  • Participate in the democratic process.
  • Participate in your local community.
And I could argue that "Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others" is part of this, because when people don't respect others - as we see in Congress these days - they shut out any information that might raise doubts with what they want to believe. 

Voting isn't even listed as a duty, but as a right!  You can't exercise the right to vote if you don't understand the issues or know who the candidates are.  And the media aren't doing a great job at informing us.  The presidential debates this year haven't focused much on the details of the issues.  More on not "respecting the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others."

And some of the issues are simply made up.  From what I can tell, the Planned Parenthood video was a well planned hatchet job.  Something like the Swiftboat character-assassination of John Kerry when he was running for president.  First comes the video, then lickity-split, all the Republicans are using it to trash Planned Parenthood.  They even get a Congressional investigation.  Here's a link that reports investigators say the whole thing has been edited and subtitled to falsely make the message they wanted to make, not what the video actually shows.

So, serious engagement in the issues is necessary for a democracy to thrive.  Citizens have to put in the hard work of getting educated.  Not just to learn the sound bytes of the side they support, but to be able to see past the hype.  To be able to cause their uninformed friends and neighbors to reexamine their positions.

I give this long intro, because Alaska Common Ground and ISER are offering a day long workshop at UAA's Wendy Williamson auditorium this Saturday.  It's a chance to do some serious homework on Alaska's fiscal options for the future.

You don't have to pay (but I'm sure they'll take donations.)
You don't have to start from scratch - they've organized key speakers who know this stuff cold.

You just have to go and engage your brain.

Click to enlarge and focus

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.