History of citizenship in the United States: Wikis

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Citizenship in the United States of America began during colonial times as an active civic participation in local government marked by frequent public debate and broad participation in democracy, particularly in New England town halls. A variety of factors and forces changed this relationship over the nation's history. Today, citizenship is essentially a legal status signifying a right to live and work in the nation as well as enjoy certain rights and privileges defined by law.

The American Revolution

Picture of about 50 men, most seated to left, some standing to middle/right, focused on a document on a table; in a building.
A savvy cadre of leaders skilled in democracy emerged from local governments in colonial America and challenged Great Britain by signing the Declaration of Independence.
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Alexis de Tocqueville

Picture of a somber looking man wearing a blue coat, with dark hair, resting his arm on a chair.
Alexis de Tocqueville toured America extensively in the 1830s and thought the principle of equality drove Americans to pursue commercial success.

In the 1830s, visiting America, Tocqueville thought that a powerful influence guiding the destiny of American democracy was the principle of equality.[1] Unlike Europe, in America nobody saluted clergy or professors, for example. People treated each other equally (with the exception of slavery). And, as Tocqueville saw it, the natural human yearning for distinction and respect could not be satisfied through feudal inherited structures, but rather by one's commerce and industry, and he saw a feverish hunt for wealth everywhere in America. A national focus on economic betterment brought many advantages, but one casualty was declining civic participation. Helping out in town affairs didn't pay much, generally; as frontier dangers receded and the population expanded, many citizens stayed away from meetings and instead pursued jobs and careers and money, or simply stayed home. Participation in government, after all, wasn't required; people showing up for a community meeting couldn't force no-shows to show. Sometimes declining attendance was welcomed by attendees, since it helped some decisions happen faster and with less conflict, and it gave attendees relatively more power to decide matters. The idea of freedom as freedom to be left alone was given philosophical credence in the mid nineteenth century by the philosopher John Stuart Mill who wrote On Liberty. Mill wrote: "The only part of the conduct of anyone for which he is amenable to society is that which concerns others. In the part that merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."[2] And social pressure to cooperate began to erode. Fixing one's house or raising one's salary or expanding one's business brings a direct benefit, while debating in a town council about where to build a new firehouse, for example, brings an indirect benefit, and direct benefits usually trump indirect ones; this is another phrasing of the famous problem of the Commons.

The declining citizen participation in town governments was balanced, to some extent, by participation in associations. Tocqueville concluded "Americans of all ages, all stations of life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations."[3] There are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand different types–religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large, and very minute."[3] The associations formed bonds between people and helped people solve local problems locally. A volunteer garden club, for example, could plant flowers in public parks which helped beautify towns without costing the town money; it was a form of civic participation, in a sense, since it was related to the task of governing in a tangential way. Tocqueville thought town meetings were a "marvel of municipal freedom" and he was impressed how people could settle their affairs "with no distinction of rank."[4]

The Civil War

States' rights

Since the South tried to revolt under the banner of states' rights, and lost, the concept of states' rights was discredited to an extent, according to a subsequent analysis by Senator Borah writing in 1922.[5] Borah thought that the Constitution divided powers so that all matters of domestic concern and local interests were given to state governments, while matters for general government were given to Washington, and wrote "upon the integrity of the States after all rests the integrity and permanency of the Union–that upon the principle of local self-government rests the perpetuity of republican institutions."[5] Thinkers such as Tocqueville as well as Lincoln[5] and Supreme Court Justice Harlan[5] believed a federal system would work best in which individual states had great power and freedom and autonomy to govern themselves, since it allowed people dissatisfied with a particular state government to move to a neighboring state to seek a better state government.[6] This freedom of movement between states, it was argued, was a powerful brake on corruption in any one state, since a badly-governed state would have difficulty attracting and keeping residents. Given choices between states, citizens, by being free to move and change states, had more freedom. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall wrote "No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the States and of compounding the American people into one common mass."[5] But the Civil War required the federal government to impose its will on individual states, and a precedent working against states' autonomy had been set, and the natural feedback loop pushing decision-making away from local town councils now could push control away from state governments to the national government in Washington. In addition, state governments lost more control when in 1913 the seventeenth amendment took away their power to appoint US Senators, which removed an important voice they had had in national politics. And the Supreme Court could use vaguely worded parts of the Constitution such as the Commerce Clause to validate federal power over state government decision-making in cases such as Lochner v. New York (1911) or in later cases in the twentieth century such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) or Roe v. Wade (1974).

Twentieth century

Progressive Era

The Progressive era emphasized civic duty and greatly expanded citizenship programs for immigrants, especially during the World War. Columbie University professor James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) worked to actively change society, helping found the New School for Social Research in 1919. Robinson strongly believed that adult education was integral to an informed democratic society.[7]

Doubling of the citizenship franchise

The growing economy and the growing sense of citizenship as a legal status unlinked with civic participation meant that differing political parties, jostling for power at all levels of government, could consider admitting new persons or groups into citizenship as a way to swell the ranks of voters hopefully in their favor. Politicians could widen citizenship with little impact on their grip on political power since the civic-duty aspects of citizenship were declining and since Americans were paying less and less attention to the political process. Admitting new groups of citizens was not a serious challenge to the authority of both political parties, but if handled properly, could give one political party a slight edge in upcoming elections depending on how the newly admitted groups voted. Since, according to political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg, Americans were losing interest in politics,[8] and were less willing to embrace civic responsibility.[9] the net of citizenship could be widened with little impact. Philosopher Jürgen Habermas noticed the contradiction in his book The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere and noted that while the public widened, the public sphere shrunk, so that more people were counted technically as citizens but the actual task of citizenship-as-civic-action was shrinking.[10][11][12]

Americans were increasingly focusing on being workers and employers and investors and consumers and less as being citizens.[13] The economy expanded. Voting declined. Ginsberg suggested in 1998 in a controversial analysis that government could extend rights of modern citizenship to diverse new groups such as minorities and women, as well as encouraging voting as an alternative to more dangerous unwanted protests, such as striking or rioting, as a way to tame a wary public.[14] He wrote: "To vote meant not to strike or riot," and the state preferred citizens to vote rather than have more serious challenges to its power such as lawsuits, protests, organizing, parliamentary procedure, or lobbying.[14]

Picture of seven women wearing different dresses and hats with the words "First woman jury, Los Angeles" on the top of this black and white photo.
When women were recognized as citizens, they could participate in jury duty as well.

Accordingly, the citizenship franchise expanded further. Women were admitted into citizenship after long advocacy by prominent activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920. Women could vote and run for office. The electorate doubled in size. And this was an important marker in the status and power of women. But the influx of women-as-citizens did not reverse the general trend towards declining civic participation in local government.

Expansion of the federal government

In 1922, Senator Borah warned: "Under no circumstances should the national Government undertake to deal with those things which are essentially local."[5] He suggested that "when a people cease to be active in the affairs of government" that oligarchy follows shortly thereafter.[5] Tocqueville had made a similar warning back in 1835. He wrote that when local authorities had the power to administer laws made by higher governments such as counties or states, then there was a healthy measure of control; but what Tocqueville found alarming was when state or national government not only made the laws, but administered them; he described this as potentially "dangerous."[15][16]

Expansion of federal government since 1949
Years President Party Growth Notes
1949-52 Truman Democrat &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"+8.7%
1953-57 Eisenhower Republican &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"-1.3%
1957-60 Eisenhower Republican &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"-0.2%
1961-64 Kennedy-Johnson Democrat &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"+2.1%
1965-68 Johnson Democrat &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"+4.3%
1969-72 Nixon Republican &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"-2.8%
1973-76 Nixon-Ford Republican &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"-0.7%
1977-80 Carter Democrat &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"+1.0%
1981-84 Reagan Republican &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"+1.1%
1985-88 Reagan Republican &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"+1.7%
1989-92 GHW Bush Republican &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"+0.7%
1993-96 Clinton Democrat &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"-2.6%
1997-00 Clinton Democrat &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"-0.1%
2001-04 GW Bush Republican &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"+0.9%
2005-08 GW Bush Republican &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"+0.9%

Source: New York Times (2009)[17]

World War II

Internment

Black and white picture of perhaps 30 people dressed, outdoors, happy, with American flag on pole in background.
120,000 Japanese-Americans, of which roughly 60% were technically documented American "citizens", spent World War II as prisoners in internment camps like this one in Arizona. They broke no laws. In 1945, they were happy their ordeal was over.

World War II lifted the nation out of the Depression and saw massive numbers of Americans in uniform fighting on two different shores, including African-American males, who could use the experience in subsequent generations to demand an end to segregation and equal treatment under law. One tragedy, however, was the treatment and detention of over a hundred twenty thousand west coast Japanese-Americans during the war. Many were second generation Japanese, born in America, and therefore citizens by birthright; estimates of citizens among the detainees were 62%[18] or 58%.[19] But since military authorities worried that saboteurs and spies for Japan might be lurking within this group, and were unable to identify which persons might possibly have been dangerous, authorities (based on presidential directive #9066) detained them during the war. German-Americans and Italian-Americans were not treated similarly, leading to accusations that the United States government committed a bias crime because the Japanese-Americans were more easily identified by racial characteristics. In a real sense, the internment illustrated the fragility of citizenship.

Tax withholding

Expensive war munitions required government to raise taxes further, but it was difficult prompting Americans to save tax money for an annual payment. Paying taxes was traditionally seen as a duty of citizenship, and as time went by, and as Americans gradually abandoned civic participation to pursue private enterprise, taxes increased partly as a way to compensate for declining involvement. Further, people had more money to pay increased taxes. But the possibility that citizens might refuse to pay taxes was, in one respect, a check on the power of government.

But this citizenship power was lost during the war. In 1943, when federal government raised taxes further, a major collection issue loomed.[20] While there was strong support for the war effort, resources were tight, and Americans hadn't been saving to meet the needs of an increased annual tax bill. A former Macy's executive named Beardsley Ruml conceived a plan to bypass citizens by forcing employers to pay taxes directly to government regularly on their behalf. Here's how it worked according to New York Times writer Amith Shlaes:

Picture of a woman holding a long cylindrical wiry cable, seated indoors
Connecticut cable-grip manufacturess Vivien Kellems protested tax withholding vigorously. She refused to withhold taxes for her 100+ employees and challenged the IRS in federal court in the late 1940s.[21][22][23]
The government would get business to do its work, collecting taxes for it. Employers would retain a percentage of taxes from workers every week–say, 20 percent–and forward it directly to Washington's war chest. This would hide the size of the new taxes from the worker. No longer would the worker ever have to look his tax bill square in the eye. Workers need never even see the money they were forgoing. Withholding as we know it today was born ... This was more than change, it was transformation. Government would put its hand into the taxpayer's pocket and grab its share of tax--without asking ... Ruml had several reasons for wagering that his project would work. One was that Americans, smarting from the Japanese assault, were now willing to sacrifice more than at any other point in memory. The second was that the federal government would be able to administer withholding–six successful years of Social Security showed that the government, for the first time ever, was able to handle such a mass program of revenue collection. The third was packaging. He called his program not collection at source or withholding, two technical terms for what he was doing. Instead he chose a zippier name: pay as you go.[20]

Ruml's scheme of tax withholding promoted as pay-as-you-go greatly increased tax compliance but undermined citizenship, since citizens lost the power to voice displeasure with government by threatening to not pay taxes.[20] Prominent conservative thinker Milton Friedman who had supported tax withholding came to regret the choice later.[20] Friedman wrote:

We concentrated single-mindedly on promoting the war effort. We gave next to no consideration to any longer-run consequences. It never occurred to me at the time that (by advocating tax withholding) I was helping to develop machinery that would make possible a government that I would come to criticize severely as too large, too intrusive, too destructive of freedom. Yet, that was precisely what I was doing ... There is an important lesson here. It is far easier to introduce a government program than to get rid of it.[20]

After the war, tax withholding persisted, since government officials now had resources to enact a variety of programs with little fear of popular protest via non-payment of taxes.[20]

Prosperity

After the war, the nation resumed a path to prosperity. Some writers blamed increasing wealth for exacerbating the decline in political participation.[24] Kaplan wrote: "Aristophanes and Euripides, the late-eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher Adam Ferguson, and Tocqueville in the nineteenth century all warned that material prosperity would breed servility and withdrawal, turning people into, in Tocqueville's words, industrious sheep."[24] There are instances in which technology makes it less necessary to rely on neighbors; for example, in Mount Vernon, Maine, telephone service in the 1960s used to be routed by two elderly operators "who knew everyone in town", but with new dialing technology, their assistance was no longer needed.[25] Today Ipod music technology means people can walk down a public sidewalk practically oblivious to others, in their own private worlds. Tocqueville saw a natural tendency for democratic peoples to turn inwards, to tune out others.[26] Being in public doesn't make us feel important, so we turn to families, friends, television, entertainment, that is, we turn away from public life. He wouldn't have been surprised to see pedestrians listening to Ipods oblivious to others. He hoped local organizations and civic groups and churches would counteract this trend and help people turn outward.[27]

A speech in 1996 by Jean Elshtain at Brigham Young University looked at democracy in that year, Elshtain spoke about the analysis of Tocqueville:

In Tocqueville's worst-case scenario, narrowly self-involved individualists, disarticulated from the saving constraints and nurture of overlapping associations of social life, would move to a bad and isolating egoism. Once that happened, they would require more controls from above in order to muffle the disintegrative effects of egoism. To this end, if you would forestall this moment of democratic despotism, civic spaces between citizens and the state would need to be secured and nourished. Only many small-scale civic bodies would enable citizens to cultivate the democratic virtues and to play an active role in their communities. These civic bodies would be in and of the community--not governmentally derived, not creatures of the state.[28]

Citizenship USA

Citizenship USA was the name of a 1996 plan for United States President William J. Clinton's administration to register and naturalize one million Hispanics before that year's presidential election. The INS had previously planned for an increase to 700 million applications per year.[29] It would process 1.3 million applications and approve 1.1 million by the end of the 1996 fiscal year.[29] It was documented in a report by California Representative Chris Cox on May 12, 1997.[citation needed] The Justice Department's Inspector General concluded that the speedup plan resulted in poor background checks on thousands of applicants.[30]

Declining attendance at town meetings

During the second half of the twentieth century, attendance at town meetings continued to decline. In 1970, in Mount Vernon, Maine, 120 of 596 inhabitants gathered for the annual town meeting.[31] In 1977, a Time Magazine reporter wrote that the "town meeting has been declining for decades—a casualty of increasing population and the complexity of issues."[4] In one study of attendance at town hall meetings from 1970 to 1998, only 20% of the town showed up.[32] One source suggested attendance at town meetings varied from 20% to 26%.[33] One independent writer wondered that the substance of town meetings in present times bordered on the absurd. For example, Victoria Rose Perkins questioned the importance of a town debating ad infinitum about the spelling of the town's name.[33] In the town of Huntington, Vermont, a meeting in March in 1977 was attended by only 130 out of 519 eligible citizens, that is, three of every four citizens stayed home.[4] The meeting lasted more than four hours and citizens discussed issues such as local real estate taxes and whether to buy a new fire truck (they did.)[4] The meeting had a social effect in helping people get to know their neighbors; the reporter concluded that "By and large, Huntingtonians seemed to genuinely like and trust each other."[4]

The 1960s were marked by street protests, demonstrations, rioting, civil unrest,[34] antiwar protests, and a cultural revolution.[35] African-American youth protested following victories in the courts regarding civil rights with street protests led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the NAACP.[36] But sit-ins, street protests, non-violent protests and lawsuits were the only ways for people to express discontent with the political system, since the possibility of attending town meetings to voice complaints was practically abandoned.

Picture of a street protest scene, with people lying down in a street, surrounded by police, onlookers, and stores in a big city.
Activists are pressured to stage bizarre protests to win media attention to try to win the support of the public; at the Republican National Convention in Manhattan in 2004, protesters lie down on a busy street as an act of civil disobedience.

Persons who cared about a political issue didn't have a place to express their concerns, since attendance at town meetings was minimal. So getting public attention was the first step in any effort to change policy, and this wasn't easy. Advertising was expensive. Lacking funds, many activists felt pressure to pull bizarre stunts to get free press coverage, since an off-the-wall news story might captivate the public imagination for a short time; accordingly, activists for the left such as Michael Moore made sarcastic documentary movies such as Roger & Me[37] to attract attention; activists from the right such as radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh made outrageous statements such as calling Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor a "reverse racist" to maintain radio ratings.[38] In contrast, activists such as supporters of the non-partisan FairTax tax simplification reform strategy who adopted a more reasonable approach often failed to win attention; since they were often reluctant to pull media stunts, the American public is mostly unaware of their proposal.[39] If activists succeeded at winning public attention without distorting their credibility, the next step was to persuade people to act, such as writing a letter to a congressperson. Here, too, there were obstacles to overcome, including public inertia. People mostly concluded that trying to accomplish some political goal was a waste of time. The few instances in which activism brought about successful political change in recent years were instances in which there was an aggrieved group, such as African-Americans or feminists or homosexuals, who felt the sting of bad policy over time, and who conducted long-range campaigns of protest together with media campaigns to change public opinion along with campaigns in the courts to change policy.

Erosion of trust

However, overall, the pattern is that trust between citizens seems to be declining.[28] Poll data suggest that people are less and less likely to trust their neighbors, with a marked shift from 1960 (60%) to 1993 (38%) of people answering yes to the question "Do you believe most people can be trusted, or can't you be too careful?"[28] Meyer wrote "Americans don't trust our institutions or one another" and "without trust, without a shared vocabulary, without community, we feel endangered."[40] Author Dick Meyer in Why We Hate Us describes an America in which people don't trust institutions or one another, and a declining sense of community.[40] Like Putnam, Meyer saw a drastic shift in values beginning about the 1960s, and blames ideological shifts as well as extensive involvement with the mass media and suburban sprawl.[40]

One reason offered to explain declining civic involvement is some municipal problems require experts and professionals and therefore citizens are not needed.[33][41] Declining civic engagement paralleled declining church attendance[42] and declining newspaper readership among the young.[43] There were questions whether young Americans are learning enough to stay informed about public issues.[43] Membership in communal groups like the PTA is declining; it had 9.5 million members, or nine percent of the adult population, in 1955, but membership has been declining since the 1960s.[40] Writers such as Charles Murray described the decline in civic engagement and blamed government intervention for harming civic engagement.[44] Other writers notice a trend towards civic disengagement.[43][45]

Decline of social capital

By the late twentieth century, Harvard professor of public policy Robert Putnam noticed a decline in civic engagement, including activities normally done by citizens such as voting or attending local meetings.[3] His 1995 seminal article Bowling Alone suggested that for the first two-thirds of the 20th century, Americans were deeply involved in their neighborhoods, towns, and cities, but since the 1950s, baby boomers and Gen Xers and younger generations have gradually withdrawn from civic life; for example, from 1980 to 1993, the total number of bowlers increased by over 10%, yet league bowling fell by more than 40%.[3] "We are bowling alone rather than with our neighbors" according to his analysis.[3] The declining social capital which Putnam defines as the "sum of complex, dense networks of connections, values, norms, and reciprocal relationships in a community" means people are less inclined to do citizenship-related activities.[3] Putnam blames the rise of electronic entertainment, especially television, video games, and the Internet along with the pressures of time and money, the rise of two-income couples, increased commuting time, and urban sprawl.[3][45]

Civic disengagement by twenty-somethings–1970s vs 1990s
Civic activity 1970s 1990s Notes
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Signed a petition &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"42% &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"23% [43]
Joined a union &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"15% &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"5% [43]
Attended a public meeting &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"19% &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%".Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "%"8% [43]
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Note: data from Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone (2000) comparing 18-29 year olds in the 1972-1975 period with a similar age group during the Clinton years.[43]

Rutgers political science professor Benjamin Barber sees a growing incivility in political discussions today and characterizes discussions as "divisive" with "almost no listening" and "no visible modification of opinion" and a "vilification of opponents." [46] Barber elaborated: "Divisive rhetoric has become not only disagreement between parties but a rejection of the legitimacy of the other side, validating a position that your opponents are immoral, un-American and possibly worthy of being subjected to violence," and added "Opponents become enemies of the Republic and the political process itself."[46] There is evidence that citizens have lost the ability to listen to each other; in a painting depicted by Norman Rockwell about a 1943 town meeting, neighbors listened to a man argue for an unpopular opinion; today, however, there are few instances in which people listen to alternative points of view.[32]

Citizenship today

Conservative writer William J. Bennett, despite noting a decline in civic participation, found resilience in the American character in the response after 9/11.[47] But others have been critical, thinking that government, in many instances, over-reacted to the threat of terrorism by removing many civil liberties, with expansive invasions of privacy with warrantless wiretapping, illegal searches and seizures and detentions of persons suspected with involvement with terrorists.

Mass media

Mass media effects on citizenship are mixed.

Picture of about ten people posing for a camera.
The hit TV series The Cosby Show, beamed weekly into millions of U.S. homes, helped change racial stereotypes for the better and helped Americans work towards accepting African-Americans as fellow citizens.
  • Positive effects. Newspaper readership encourages the valuable citizenship skill of literacy. The mass media help people share a common media experience, such as a vivid awareness of where they were during the Attack on Pearl Harbor or 9/11; and common experiences help unite citizens with a common culture.[48] Further, radio and television and the Internet allow instantaneous transmission of news which helps citizens stay informed of new developments.[49] A video image of police abuse can have a powerful deterrent effect on future police abuse, and can keep overzealous officers within bounds if they're aware that possible abuse might be broadcast worldwide. While most citizens lack time and capacity to stay informed about political developments, particularly at the national level, reporters and editors can expose wrongdoing by public officials and publicize scandals and, in some respects, the Fourth Estate checks government power.[50] Media can change stereotypes in a positive way. For example, the television miniseries drama Roots by African-American writer Alex Haley chronicled a family's history from tribal Africa to the post-Civil War south and was viewed by 130 million people in 1977,[51] and it helped white Americans grasp the plight of African-Americans in America.[52] According to Dr. Juliet Walker of the University of Texas, Roots helped people "see the reality of slavery in a way in which historians have really not been able to do."[51] Writer Tim Arango in The New York Times suggested the The Cosby Show "succeeded in changing racial attitudes enough to make an Obama candidacy possible."[53]
Picture of a smiling woman, with other men wearing suits.
A mass media culture can be highly entertaining but it can also lead to mindless vicarious worship of celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Declining involvement with real neighbors can erode our chances to be real citizens.
  • Negative effects. But the drug of entertainment injected by the needle of mass media is a potent concoction keeping people away from neighbors and civic participation. Americans overly entertained are prone to cutting themselves off from flesh-and-blood neighbors and prefer the solitude of screen satisfaction. They fail to form ties of affection and respect and trust and become isolated, estranged, alienated, vulnerable, uninformed, and lose the skill of conversational give-and-take. Manners and politeness suffer. People have always had heroes such as Buffalo Bill[54] and have always loved good stories such as the Odyssey or a Mark Twain novel,[54] but what's different today is the scale and power of the images as well as access to them. One commentator wrote that the revolution in powerful mass media graphics "has produced a shift in the values of many Americans away from 'work, family, and citizenship' and towards self-gratification."[55] People identify their dreams with the pseudo-immortality of celebrity.[55] A reporter wrote: "Fascination with fame permeates the media and occupies the daydreams of millions."[54][55] People know the images are carefully crafted fictional representations to appeal to a wide audience, but the images are powerful nevertheless in terms of influencing behavior and thought. Culture is reduced to gawking over celebrity antics and misdeeds: "Twentieth-century mass media coupled with the entertainment industry pushed the fame machinery into hyperdrive ... Welcome Brad and Angelina, the reigning Apollo and Daphne."[54] Faced with a choice of meeting a possibly cantankerous neighbor, or passively watching beautiful images on a moving screen, people increasingly choose screens, although some secondary schools try to teach students to be more objective with courses in media literacy and foster citizenship[56] with lessons about how a culture of celebrity worship is wasteful.[57] But civics as an academic discipline struggles to compete with dollar-oriented courses focused on making students employable,[58] and academic discussion about citizenship is an abstract exercise far removed from the actual exercise of democracy.

Town meetings today

Town meetings continue to happen today, although with greatly reduced attendance.[4] Local government decision-making was limited to a narrow range of topics unlikely to excite the attention of most residents. For example, in 2009 in the New England town of Smithfield, Rhode Island, the town agenda had issues such as housing, conservation, schools, the library, sewers, zoning, soil erosion, traffic safety, and so forth, and there were separate committees to discuss each issue.[59] The town's authority in many instances is circumscribed by decisions made at the county, state, or federal level. One of the top stories on the town website of Casco, Maine was dog licenses; they're set to expire on December 31, 2009, and it's difficult to imagine neighbors getting charged up to attend town meetings to discuss dog licensing.[60] Casco has a year-round population of 3,500, but swells to 15,000 during the summer. Volunteering exists; it has a "Town Meeting form of government with an elected 5 member board of selectmen and a Town Manager" with community volunteers who are the "backbone of the Town of Casco's Rescue Unit and Fire Department."[60]

The term "town meeting" has been somewhat distorted by the media; some television broadcasts describe shows as "town meetings" but they're more accurately described as "forums with supporters."[61] A candidate running for office will surround himself or herself with supporters, make a speech with a nice backdrop and camera-pleasing angles, and have the spectacle presented as if it's a "town meeting" in which there are active discussions happening; but such events are really public relations events analogous to political commercials. Some firms which specialize in the deliberative democracy business use trained facilitators, full-time staff, media and community outreach, and "a lot of technology."[32] The phrase "town hall meeting" is often used today to "signify a televised campaign event" and not a real but a "counterfeit" meeting since its primary purpose is to sell a political candidate.[32]

Political corruption and disenchantment

The trend towards career politicians has continued to the extent that there is public disenchantment with the political process.[62][63] Reelection rates for members of Congress hover around 90% suggesting that incumbents have a huge advantage over challengers because of access to money, gerrymandering, and franking privileges, and leading to accusations that the election process has been rigged to favor incumbents.[64]

Charles Murray argued that too much government involvement strips away responsibility from communities and, as a result, harms the "elaborate web of social norms, expectations, rewards and punishments (which) evolves over time that supports families and communities in performing their functions."[44] He criticized the welfare state as causing "growing legions of children raised in unimaginably awful circumstances, not because of material poverty but because of dysfunctional families, and the collapse of functioning neighborhoods into Hobbesian all-against-all free-fire zones."[44]

There are further examples of the disconnectedness between citizens and lack of community. In Livingston, New Jersey in 2004, an elderly person died and the body lay undiscovered in the house for months.[45] In Montclair, New Jersey, people don't volunteer for the ambulance squad as much as before; "twenty years ago, it relied on a hundred volunteers, plus three paid E.M.T.'s; now it has 23 pros, only seven volunteers.[45] However, one writer noticed that there were some block parties as well as informal networks.[45] Nevertheless, when a newspaper story in USA Today in 2007 reported that each American household had liabilities of $516,348 for promises made by federal, state and local governments regarding future payouts for Medicare, Social Security, military benefits, state and local debt, federal civil service benefits, state and local retiree benefits, and other federal obligations, there were neither public protests nor serious discussion in town meetings, although there were comments from dissatisfied readers posted anonymously.[65]

Picture of a large yellow sign saying "Todos somos illegales -- we are all illegals" caption reads Protest against the legal treatment of immigrants in Santa Cruz, California.
Millions of illegal aliens in the United States work in low-wage jobs typically but are barred from applying for naturalized US citizenship in most cases.

Illegal aliens

In America, there are millions of people identified as illegal aliens who work in the nation, typically in low-wage menial jobs, but who lack the official legal designation of "citizen". In 2006, there were mass protests numbering hundreds of thousands throughout the US demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants.[66] Many carried banners reading "We Have A Dream Too."[66] One estimate is that there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA in 2006.[66] Some individuals believe that there isn't much difference between illegal immigrants and officially-designated citizens other than their country of birth or the citizenship designation. Some believe, that they came for jobs, for economic opportunity, to escape more desperate circumstances in other nations, but they live in the shadows in constant fear of deportation. In some sense, the designation that some people are citizens and others are non-citizens creates a class system, a caste system, similar in some respects to ancient civilizations. Kaplan wrote: "Sparta, like Athens, was a two-tiered system, with an oligarchic element that debated and decided issues and a mass -- helots ("serfs") in Sparta, and slaves and immigrants in Athens—that had few or no rights.[24] Illegal immigration generates understandable criticism from legal residents. Some residents feel that illegal immigrants violate the law and spirit of immigration and mock those who undertook legitimate avenues of migration to enter the United States, disrupting the lower sectors of the economy, and displacing U.S. citizens from jobs and low-income housing. Additionally, in "sanctuary cities" such as New York, health care expenditures for illegal immigrants paid with public funds using public hospitals deprive legitimate U.S. citizens of vital services.

Jury duty and citizenship

Some writers see the institution of the New England town meeting embodied in the jury. "The jury is a direct democracy. It's the New England town meeting writ large. It's the people themselves governing."[67] Others see jury duty as a useless chore to be avoided; comedian Norm Crosby once joked "When you go into court, you're putting your fate into the hands of 12 people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty."[67] In New York, many categories of people were automatically exempt from jury duty, including doctors, lawyers, firefighters, police officers, and others, until a decision changed that.[67] And there is some evidence of a trend to undo the "automatic exemptions" of many professions across the nation.[67] While many Americans think the idea of being a juror is important, most agree the act of actually serving on one is "inconvenient".[67] One study found the response to jury summonses to be "extremely low" with sometimes only 15 people showing up out of a list of 100 names.[67] Many people don't get summonses since the juror lists are often outdated or incomplete.[67] Some people showing up for jury duty find the assembly room full, and end up returning home and feeling like their time was wasted.[67] Only 20% of people summoned for jury duty actually get put on a trial.[67] And payment is low, sometimes barely enough to cover parking fees.[67]

Scholarship relating to the history of U.S. citizenship

Jürgen Habermas

Picture of a man with white hair and glasses sitting behind a glass of water with a blackboard behind him.
Democracy theorists such as philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas have studied how the space for citizenship called the public sphere has been shrinking.

Explanations by philosophers such as Jürgen Habermas in his book the Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere are confirmed by events in the media. Today, in contrast to colonial times, there is scant public debate, few public forums, and political discussion has degenerated from a fact-based rational-critical examination of public matters into a consumer commodity. There is the illusion of a public sphere, according to Habermas, who argues that citizens have become consumers, investors, and workers. Real news (information which helps free people stay free) is being elbowed out by advice, soft-porn, catchy garbage, celebrity antics, and has become infotainment, that is, a commodity competing in a mass entertainment market. It matters less whether news is right or wrong, and matters more whether it's gripping. Habermas' sociological and philosophical work tries to explain how this transformation happened by examining a wide range of disciplines, including political theory, cultural criticism, ethics, gender studies, philosophy, sociology,[11] history, and media studies.[68] According to Habermas, a variety of factors resulted in the eventual decay of the public sphere, including the growth of a commercial mass media, which turned the critical public into a passive consumer public; and the welfare state, which merged the state with society so thoroughly that the public sphere was squeezed out. It also turned the "public sphere" into a site of self-interested political brawl for state resources rather than a space for a public-minded rational consensus. And it turned real citizens into consumers.

Benjamin Ginsberg and Matthew Crenson

Johns Hopkins political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg along with co-author Matthew Crenson offers a different interpretation about why citizenship expanded to different groups such as minorities and women. Ginsberg thinks government used tactics such as extending rights of modern citizenship to minorities and women as well as encouraging voting as a deliberate alternative to more dangerous unwanted protests, such as striking or rioting; expanding citizenship, in his view, was a method to tame a wary public.[14] He wrote: "To vote meant not to strike or riot," and the state preferred citizens to vote rather than have more serious challenges to its power such as lawsuits, protests, organizing, parliamentary procedure, or lobbying.[14] Since elections happen periodically, they limit citizen participation in politics to merely the selection of leaders and keep people away from policy formation.[14] Ginsberg agreed there was dwindling civic participation in America and he chronicled a pattern of reduced interest in civic groups, using diminished Lions Club attendance from the 1970s to 2004, as an example of the "decline of mass political participation."[8] Ginsberg argued that civic decline is "not simply a consequence of the decay of civil society brought on by TV, suburbanization and busy lives."[8] "Citizens became less vigilant and involved, and interests like the banks and railroads came to control the very commissions that were supposed to work on behalf of the public good."[8] Ginsberg criticized "statutes and judicial rulings" for making advocacy by litigation commonplace, and effectively removing many issues from the political arena.[8] Authors Ginsberg and Crenson charted the declining importance of citizenship in America.[13] People are better described as consumers, not citizens and no longer embrace civic responsibility or bother to vote and the public has chosen to stay aloof from government which is seen as "another service provider."[13] Candidates use polls to focus on the dwindling number of persons who actually show up to vote.[13]

Increasing court involvement is blamed, as well, for diminishing the role of public sentiment, and the authors see the 1960s civil rights movement as having morphed into a litigation struggle about rights and a middle class prerogative.[13][9] They argue that citizens, who used to be the "backbone of the western state," are no longer relevant.[9] While government has grown, influential citizens have been reduced to mere recipients of government services and "marginalized as political actors."[9] Government can raise an army and collect taxes without widespread public support; the withholding tax has made the voluntary component of tax paying less important; a professional military limits the need for citizen soldiers; special interests provide bureaucrats with a substitute for public support.[9] The authors blame, in part, Progressive Era reforms such as primaries and recalls and referendums as weakening the parties' ability to mobilize voters.[9] Neither party has much enthusiasm for mobilizing more voters.[9] Ginsberg and Crenson think that increased litigation, caused by lowering the requirements for class-action lawsuits, benefits special interests who can cause changes beneficial to them without having to energize apathetic voters.[9] Ginsberg sees public opinion polling as a "subtle instrument of power" since it renders opinions "less dangerous, less disruptive, more permissive, and, perhaps, more amenable to governmental control."[14] He sees policy based not on mass opinion but on managing mass opinion, a kind of giant public relations project.[14] Ginsberg has criticized the Washington political climate as "toxic", characterized by a "cycle of attack and counterattack" in which minor indiscretions are used as political weapons.[69]

Generally, about half of eligible voters vote in presidential elections, although the 2008 election, which featured no incumbents, had a higher turnout of 62%. Turnout for primary elections is even lower. While Ginsberg sees voting as a passive and meaningless act which gives the illusion of public control over government, he sometimes criticizes both political parties as having a "resistance" to sincerely working towards increased voter participation.[70] One newspaper reporter, writing about low voter turnout in 1998, suggested there was a "deep-rooted resistance within both parties to expanding the national electorate," and quoted Ginsberg as saying "Politicians who have risen to power in a low-turnout political environment have little to gain and much to fear from an expanded electorate."[70]

Ginsberg argued that citizenship has been undermined by a move to a voluntary military. He believes citizen participation in the military is good since it strengthens patriotism, which means "sacrifice and a willingness to die for one's country."[71] But the switch to a voluntary military eliminates "a powerful patriotic framework" since "instead of a disgruntled army of citizen soldiers, the military seems to be consisted of professional soldiers and private contractors."[71] Ginsberg suggested that the "government learned the lessons of Vietnam and has found ways to insulate the use of military force" from society.[71] Ginsberg criticized American leaders for trying to wage war on terrorism without any sacrifice from citizens: "U.S. leaders have pleaded for what can best be described as defiant normalcy–living, spending and consuming to show that terrorists won't change the American way of life," according to a reporter commenting on Ginsberg's views.[71] Ginsberg suggested American political parties have less and less influence.[72]

Dana D. Nelson

Picture of a woman outdoors smiling with red flowers in the background.
Vanderbilt professor Dana D. Nelson argues that all people do, politically, is vote for president every four years, and think that by voting, they're finished their civic duty. Americans expect the president to solve all of America's problems.

Vanderbilt professor Dana D. Nelson is a progressive advocate for citizenship[73] who argued in her 2008 book Bad for Democracy of a tendency by Americans to neglect basic citizenship duties while hoping the president would solve most problems, or what she termed presidentialism.[74][75][76] She saw an American tendency to "look to the sitting president as simultaneously a unifier of the citizenry and a protector from political threats."[77] She called for a "return to grassroots democracy and activism."[78] Nelson explained:

Our habit of putting the president at the center of democracy and asking him to be its superhero works to deskill us for the work of democracy ... The presidency itself has actually come to work against democracy ... We stop waiting for someone else to do it for us. We organize together, using public spaces and the internet. We form blogs, we write letters to the editor, we show up at Congress, we protest, we call, we lobby, we boycott, we buycott, we email our representatives, we find supporters, we get them moving, we grow the movement. We ignore the idea that the right president will do it for us and find every way we can to do it ourselves."[79]

Robert D. Kaplan

Robert D. Kaplan in The Atlantic offers a different viewpoint. He agreed the domain of politics in America is shrinking.[24] He described how many city spaces are designed not to meet citizens' needs but to serve corporate ends.[24] He linked the decline of political participation with mass culture, consistent with the analysis by Habermas. Kaplan wrote: "We have become voyeurs and escapists ... it is because people find so little in themselves that they fill their world with celebrities ... The masses avoid important national and international news because much of it is tragic, even as they show an unlimited appetite for the details of Princess Diana's death. This willingness to give up self and responsibility is the sine qua non for tyranny."[24]

While political participation in terms of voting has been declining steadily, Kaplan argued, in contrast to Ginsberg and Crenson, that there are substantial benefits in some respects to non-participation; he wrote "the very indifference of most people allows for a calm and healthy political climate."[24] He elaborated: "Apathy, after all, often means that the political situation is healthy enough to be ignored. The last thing America needs is more voters–particularly badly educated and alienated ones–with a passion for politics."[24] He argues that civic participation, in itself, is not always a sufficient condition to bring good outcomes; he argues against bringing democracy to poor countries torn by ethnic violence and marred by illiteracy since the freedom to debate and vote often results in more fractiousness. He points to Singapore as an authoritarian model which, because it emphasized "relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency", it prospered; Kaplan asks "Doesn't liberation from filth and privation count as a human right?"[80] And in twenty-first century America, with an integrated and robust and growing worldwide economy, there are numerous opportunities to make money and, as a result, have freedom to buy a huge assortment of consumer goods, and not be dependent on citizens or neighbors. If citizens have become consumers, there are positive parts of this, although the risk remains that when people no longer participate in government, there are increased chances for oligarchy or tyranny such as what happened to ancient Athens or the ancient Roman republic.[81]

Further reading

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ Alexis de Tocqueville (2009-11-27). "Democracy in America: Chapter VIII: HOW EQUALITY SUGGESTS TO THE AMERICANS THE IDEA OF THE INDEFINITE PERFECTABILITY OF MAN". University of Virginia. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper/DETOC/ch1_08.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "When the citizens of a community are classed according to rank, profession, or birth and when all men are forced to follow the career which chance has opened before them, everyone thinks that the utmost limits of human power are to be discerned in proximity to himself, and no one seeks any longer to resist the inevitable law of his destiny." 
  2. ^ Michael D. Tanner (March 2, 2007). "Leviathan on the Right–How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution". Strike the Root. http://www.strike-the-root.com/71/lfb/lfb1.html. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "John Stuart Mill's admonition: 'The only part of the conduct of anyone for which he is amenable to society is that which concerns others. In the part that merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.'" 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Christopher Farrell (reviewer) (2009-11-27). "BOWLING ALONE: The Collapse and Revival of American Community By Robert D. Putnam". Business Week. http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_26/b3687063.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "Americans are less engaged in their communities now than at any time in the past century, argues Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. For the first two-thirds of the 20th century, Americans were deeply involved in their neighborhoods, towns, and cities. But over the past three decades, baby boomers, Gen Xers, and younger generations have gradually withdrawn from civic life." 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Staff writer (March 14, 1977). "AMERICAN SCENE: New England: Rites of March". Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,947252,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "In the view of a 19th century visitor to New England, Alexis de Tocqueville, the town meeting was a marvel of "municipal freedom" flourishing in a "semibarbarous" country; he was impressed at how ordinary citizens could gather to settle their affairs with "no distinction of rank." Although the town meeting has been declining for decades—a casualty of increasing population and the complexity of issues—it is still an honored rite of March in hundreds of communities." 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g William E. Borah, Senator from Idaho (1922-07-02). "Growing Menace to Integrity of States: A Government From Washington by Commission, Reduced to Its Last Analysis, Is No Different From a Government Reduced by Satrapies From Rome"–The Dividing Line". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9D05E3DB1039E133A25751C0A9619C946395D6CF. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "It was a genuine, unmixed democracy. Once each year every man residing in the limits of the township came, gave full expression to his views and had his vote counted. All affairs of government were here discussed and passed upon, policies were outlined, accepted or rejected–publicity in all public affairs was a reality and not a pretense." 
  6. ^ Matt Vella (January 7, 2009). "Nationalize U.S. Driver’s Licenses". BusinessWeek. http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2009/01/nationalize_us.html. Retrieved 2009-12-04. "Last, and perhaps most important, national ID in any form is antithetical to basic U.S. principles of self-government. America’s identity and economic prosperity have been, and continue to be, founded on an unfettered mobility. Boundlessness is in the national DNA. A national driver’s license, without much justification, would unnecessarily constrain us." 
  7. ^ Kevin Mattson, "The Challenges of Democracy: James Harvey Robinson, The New History, and Adult Education for Citizenship," Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 2003 2(1): 48-79
  8. ^ a b c d e Associated Press (6/5/2004). "Americans participating less and less in civic life". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-06-05-bystander-nation_x.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "But the decline of mass political participation is not simply a consequence of the decay of civil society brought on by TV, suburbanization and busy lives." 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Robert Heineman (2002). "Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public (book review)". The Independent Review (quarterly journal). http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?a=221. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "Crenson and Ginsberg argue that as government has burgeoned, Americans have been transformed from citizens who are effective political participants into customers who are recipients of government services." 
  10. ^ David Randall (2008). "Ethos, Poetics, and the Literary Public Sphere". Modern Language Quarterly (Duke University Press): pp. 221–243. doi:DOI:10.1215/00267929-2007-033. 69(2). http://mlq.dukejournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/69/2/221. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  11. ^ a b "After Habermas: New Perspectives on the Public Sphere (Sociological Review Monograph)". citeulike.com. 15 August 2004. http://www.citeulike.org/user/smitchell/article/299949. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  12. ^ Jeff Israely (July 25, 2008). "A Pope Who Engages Secularists". Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1826453,00.html. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Kerry Lauerman (November 3, 2002). "Polls Apart". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A49166-2002Oct31?language=printer. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "(review of: DOWNSIZING DEMOCRACY: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public, By Matthew A. Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg" 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Mark Crispin Miller (February 8, 1987). "SUCKERS FOR ELECTIONS (book review)". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/02/08/books/suckers-for-elections.html. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "review of: THE CAPTIVE PUBLIC How Mass Opinion Promotes State Power. By Benjamin Ginsberg" 
  15. ^ Alexis de Tocqueville (1835). "Democracy in America". Gutenberg Project. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/815/815-h/815-h.htm#2HCH0015. Retrieved 2009-12-04. "It profits me but little, after all, that a vigilant authority should protect the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly avert all dangers from my path, without my care or my concern, if this same authority is the absolute mistress of my liberty and of my life, and if it so monopolizes all the energy of existence that when it languishes everything languishes around it, that when it sleeps everything must sleep, that when it dies the State itself must perish." 
  16. ^ Alexis de Tocqueville (1835). "Democracy in America". Gutenberg Project. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/815/815-h/815-h.htm#2HCH0015. Retrieved 2009-12-04. "But a democracy without provincial institutions has no security against these evils. How can a populace, unaccustomed to freedom in small concerns, learn to use it temperately in great affairs? What resistance can be offered to tyranny in a country where every private individual is impotent, and where the citizens are united by no common tie? Those who dread the license of the mob, and those who fear the rule of absolute power, ought alike to desire the progressive growth of provincial liberties." 
  17. ^ Floyd Norris (May 6, 2009). "Big Government Republicans". The New York Times. http://norris.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/big-government-republicans/. Retrieved 2009-11-09. "It used to be — before Ronald Reagan — that the federal government grew when the Democrats were in office, and became smaller when the Republicans were in the Oval Office. Since then, the relationship has reversed." 
  18. ^ "Japanese American internment". Spiritus Temporis Web Ring Community. 2009-12-04. http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/japanese-american-internment/compensation-and-reparations.html. Retrieved 2009-12-04. "The Japanese American internment refers to the forcible relocation of approximately 112,000 to 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans, 62 percent of whom were United States citizens, from the west coast of the United States during World War II to hastily constructed housing facilities called War Relocation Camps in remote portions of the nation's interior." 
  19. ^ "Executive Order 9066: Resulting in the Relocation of Japanese (1942)". www.ourdocuments.gov. 2009-12-04. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=old&doc=74. Retrieved 2009-12-04. "Nearly 70,000 of the evacuees were American citizens. The government made no charges against them, nor could they appeal their incarceration. All lost personal liberties; most lost homes and property as well. Although several Japanese Americans challenged the government’s actions in court cases, the Supreme Court upheld their legality. 70K/120K=58%" 
  20. ^ a b c d e f Amith Shlaes (1999). "The Greedy Hand–How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to Do About It". The New York Times: Books. http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/shlaes-greedy.html. Retrieved 2009-12-16. "So Ruml devised a plan, which he unfolded to his colleagues at the Federal Reserve and to anyone in Washington who would listen. The government would get business to do its work, collecting taxes for it. Employers would retain a percentage of taxes from workers every week--say, 20 percent--and forward it directly to Washington's war chest. This would hide the size of the new taxes from the worker. No longer would the worker ever have to look his tax bill square in the eye. Workers need never even see the money they were forgoing. Withholding as we know it today was born." 
  21. ^ "People: Strikers". Time Magazine. April 10, 1944. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,796521,00.html. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "Vivien Kellems, Connecticut cable-grip manufacturess, would-be striker against Federal income taxes (TIME, Jan. 31) wrote to Buenos Aires' Count Frederick von Zedlitz in 1943 (according to Washington's solemn-faced Democratic Representative John Main Coffee), addressed him as "My Darling Boy," told him she had been promised a high place in international affairs by an astrologer." 
  22. ^ "People: People, Jan. 31, 1944". Time Magazine. Jan. 31, 1944. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,803142,00.html. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "Vivien Kellems, Westport, Conn, cable-grip manufacturer, in a speech to a Kansas City civic group, invited manufacturers to a "Westport tea party" — to form postwar reserves for their industries by putting aside money from their Federal income taxes. "Put on your Indian paint and feathers and join me," cried the 48-year-old, youthful, minister's daughter. "I owe it to my country ... to help rectify this horrible mistake which will most certainly carry us right into the abyss of Communism."" 
  23. ^ Amith Shlaes (1999). "The Greedy Hand–How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to Do About It". The New York Times: Books. http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/shlaes-greedy.html. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "There have been attacks on withholding. After war's end--after the emergency that was supposed to justify it ended with peace--withholding again faced its challenges. Some of those came from regular citizens, who were shocked that the process continued after the war. In the late 1940s, a Connecticut cable-grip maker named Vivien Kellems actually tried to create a movement to protest the withholding. She refused to withhold for the hundred-odd employees of her company, and challenged the IRS collectors in federal court. She even wrote a fiery volume of protest titled Toil, Taxes and Trouble." 
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h Robert D. Kaplan (1997-12-01). "Was Democracy Just a Moment?". The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97dec/democ.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "Then there are malls, with their own rules and security forces, as opposed to public streets; private health clubs as opposed to public playgrounds; incorporated suburbs with strict zoning; and other mundane aspects of daily existence in which–perhaps without realizing it, because the changes have been so gradual–we opt out of the public sphere and the "social contract" for the sake of a protected setting." 
  25. ^ "Nation: American Scene: Participatory Democracy". Time Magazine. April 13, 1970. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,904275-1,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "Jefferson called the New England town meeting "the best school of political liberty the world ever saw." To a degree, the town meeting represents an older communal spirit not unlike that of hippie settlements." 
  26. ^ Jean Bethke Elshtain (1996-10-29). "Democracy at Century's End (speech)". Brigham Young University. http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=1055. Retrieved 2009-12-04. "The Times noted a "turn inward" and a lack of any "clear direction in the public's political thinking other than frustration with the current system and an eager responsiveness to alternative political solutions and appeals" ("U.S. Voters Focus on Selves, Poll Says," New York Times, 21 September 1994, p. A-21). Manifestations of voter frustration included growing disidentification with either of the major parties and massive political rootlessness among the young tethered to historically high rates of pessimism about the future." 
  27. ^ Jean Bethke Elshtain (1996-10-29). "Democracy at Century's End (speech)". Brigham Young University. http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=1055. Retrieved 2009-12-04. "But this public-spiritedness is in jeopardy. Our social fabric is frayed. Our trust in our neighbors is low. We don't join as much. We give less money, as an overall percentage of our gross national product, to charity. Where once rough-and-tumble yet civil politics pertained, now we see "in your face" and "you just don't get it."" 
  28. ^ a b c Jean Bethke Elshtain (1996-10-29). "Democracy at Century's End (speech)". Brigham Young University. http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=1055. Retrieved 2009-12-04. "In Tocqueville's worst-case scenario, narrowly self-involved individualists, disarticulated from the saving constraints and nurture of overlapping associations of social life, would move to a bad and isolating egoism. Once that happened, they would require more controls from above in order to muffle the disintegrative effects of egoism..." 
  29. ^ a b http://www.govexec.com/features/0197s4.htm
  30. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25446136/
  31. ^ "Nation: American Scene: Participatory Democracy". Time Magazine. April 13, 1970. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,904275-1,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "In mud time 1970, 120 of the 596 inhabitants of Mount Vernon, Me., gathered at the elementary school for the 182nd annual meeting since the first one was held in 1788." 
  32. ^ a b c d Philip Kennicott (August 15, 2009). "When Town Halls Go Viral, There's Sickness in the Air". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/14/AR2009081401216.html. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "Alexis de Tocqueville once said that "local institutions," such as town meetings, were "to liberty what primary schools are to science."" 
  33. ^ a b c Victoria Rose Perkins (2009-12-06). "Why the traditional town meeting in Vermont is no longer appropriate in the current era". Helium. http://www.helium.com/items/1318921-why-the-traditional-town-meeting-in-vermont-is-no-longer-appropriate-in-the-current-era. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "As towns continue to grow, so do the issues. Also, it is an illusion that voting at town meetings is the "purest form of true democracy" because the towns are still subject to the State government, followed by the Federal government and any decisions made can be overridden by both!" 
  34. ^ Arthur Marwick (1998). "The Sixties–Cultural Revolution in Britain, France, Italy, and the United States, c.1958-c.1974 (excerpt from book)". The New York Times: Books. http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/m/marwick-sixties.html. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "...black civil rights; youth culture and trend-setting by young people; idealism, protest, and rebellion; the triumph of popular music based on Afro-American models and the emergence of this music as a universal language, with the Beatles as the heroes of the age..." 
  35. ^ Katy Marquardt (August 13, 2009). "10 Places to Relive the '60s". U.S. News & World Report. http://www.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/real-estate/articles/2009/08/13/10-places-to-relive-the-60s.html. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "Many of the most crucial events of the 1960s—including the civil rights victories, antiwar protests, and the sweeping cultural revolution—left few physical traces." 
  36. ^ Sanford D. Horwitt (March 22, 1998). "THE CHILDREN". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1998/03/22/RV73114.DTL. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "He notes that in the 1950s, black protests were pursued mainly through the courts and led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In the 1960s, the emphasis was on direct action led not only by Martin Luther King Jr. but also by an unlikely array of young activists, many of them college students in Nashville, where Halberstam was a young reporter for the Tennessean at the time." 
  37. ^ Bruce Headlam (September 16, 2009). "Capitalism’s Little Tramp". The New York Times: Movies. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/movies/20head.html?pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "HYPOCRITE. PROPAGANDIST. Egomaniac. Glutton. Exploiter. Embarrassment. Slob. These are a few of the criticisms that have been lobbed at Mr. Moore since his career began, and these are just the ones from liberals." 
  38. ^ Stephanie Condon (May 27, 2009). "GOP Pushback Continues, With Limbaugh Calling Sotomayor A "Reverse Racist"". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/05/27/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5043597.shtml. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "Republican senators continued through Tuesday and Wednesday to express reservations about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, as some conservative interest groups and pundits ratcheted up the pressure for the GOP to oppose the nomination. Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have gone so far as to call Sotomayor a "racist."" 
  39. ^ Joel Slemrod (November 13, 2005). "'The Fairtax Book' and 'Flat Tax Revolution': 1040EZ — Really, Really EZ". The New York Times: Books. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/13/books/review/13slemrod.html. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "These two new books, both coming from the right, suggest that merely reforming the current system is too timid. The correct policy medicine, the authors say, is to junk the income tax entirely and replace it with a consumption tax with a single tax rate for all Americans." 
  40. ^ a b c d Trevor Hunnicutt (2008-08-17). "'Why We Hate Us' by Dick Meyer". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/c/a/2008/08/15/RVP211OU17.DTL. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "The result and chief cause of self-loathing is "the decline of organic community," Meyer writes. He points to the precipitous decline in civic participation: In 1955, for instance, the PTA had 9.5 million members (9 percent of the adult population), but the group's membership has decreased since the 1960s." 
  41. ^ "Nation: American Scene: Participatory Democracy". Time Magazine. April 13, 1970. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,904275-1,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "As population increases and modern municipal problems intrude, many Yankee communities find that they need the expertise and steady ministration of professionals." 
  42. ^ Associated Press (October 28, 2009). "Evangelists Target Unreligious New England: Church Planters Attempt to Persuade Northeast's Non-Believers". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/28/national/main5433351.shtml. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "Dead churches are a familiar story in New England, which recent surveys indicate is now the least religious region in the country." 
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Arlie Russell Hochschild (February 2001). "A Generation Without Public Passion". The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200102/hochschild. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "That young people's commitment to improving society has faded may turn out to be the most significant fact about the Clinton years." 
  44. ^ a b c Charles Murray (March 25, 2009). "Europe Syndrome: The trouble with taking the trouble out of everything". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123793074783930483.html#articleTabs%3Darticle. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "But that's not what happened when the U.S. welfare state expanded. We have seen growing legions of children raised in unimaginably awful circumstances, not because of material poverty but because of dysfunctional families, and the collapse of functioning neighborhoods into Hobbesian all-against-all free-fire zones." 
  45. ^ a b c d e Paula Span (November 20, 2005). "JERSEY; An Exercise In Community". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D04EFD8113EF933A15752C1A9639C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "A few years ago, in an influential book called Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard, warned of the decline in civic engagement, the loss of social capital that keeps neighborhoods and towns vital." 
  46. ^ a b George James (February 16, 1997). "The Venerable History of Incivility". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/16/nyregion/the-venerable-history-of-incivility.html. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "When Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the mid-1830's, Professor Barber said, he was impressed with the local spirit of liberty and the powerful participation of citizens in local government, whether at a New England town meeting or a gathering of settlers at a frontier fort." 
  47. ^ William J. Bennett (September 8, 2002). "Reflections on an America Transformed". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/08/opinion/reflections-on-an-america-transformed.html?pagewanted=4. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "Since 1960, what I call the index of leading cultural indicators has tracked depressing changes in American society, from a rise in family breakdowns to a decline in civic participation. These trends led many to question the strength of American character." 
  48. ^ Marita Sturken (1997). "Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic, and the Politics of Remembering". The New York Times: Books. http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/sturken-tangled.html. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "Increasingly, Americans participate in the witnessing of history through camera images; "where we were" when it happened was in front of the television screen. Indeed, recent psychological research shows that people often misremember the moment when they first heard of a national catastrophe by reimagining themselves in front of a television set. This particular mechanism of remembering, whereby we imagine our bodies in a spatial location, is also a means by which we situate our bodies in the nation. Photography, film, and television thus help define citizenship in twentieth-century America. The experience of watching "national" events, from the Kennedy assassination to the first moon walk, enables Americans, regardless of the vast differences among them, to situate themselves as members of a national culture. This experience is an essential component in generating the sense that a national culture, a "people," persists." 
  49. ^ Joli Jensen (reviewer) (2003-08). "Journalism's Identity Crisis: What is the news for? Review of: Democracy and the News, by Herbert J. Gans". Reason Magazine. http://reason.com/archives/2003/08/01/journalisms-identity-crisis. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "Journalists and media academics want to believe that the right information will guarantee active, engaged, informed citizens who can participate wisely in self-government. Gans tries to have it both ways: News practices can and should be changed to encourage citizenship, but in the end, they don't really matter. If we examine the reasons behind this contradiction, they suggest that there is something amiss in the way that he -- and we -- understand news, citizenship, and democracy." 
  50. ^ Joli Jensen (reviewer) (2003-08). "Journalism's Identity Crisis: What is the news for? Review of: Democracy and the News, by Herbert J. Gans". Reason Magazine. http://reason.com/archives/2003/08/01/journalisms-identity-crisis. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "Journalism's theory of democracy still relies on a belief that an informed citizenry will be an engaged citizenry, that an engaged citizenry will be more participatory, and that the result will be a more democratic society. As Michael Schudson points out in The Good Citizen (1998), this is a relatively modern view of what each of us should be. Democracy emerged -- and sometimes flourished -- with alternative visions of citizenship and information." 
  51. ^ a b Farai Chideya (2009). "Thirty Years of 'Roots'". NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10706524. Retrieved 2010-01-11. "His "Roots" ... The book garnered Haley a Pulitzer Prize and the television broadcast won 130 million viewers. Still, the most ever for a mini series ... one can see the reality of slavery in a way in which historians have really not been able to do." 
  52. ^ "Roots: Program Synopsis". The New York Times. 2010-01-11. http://tv.nytimes.com/show/59863/Roots/overview. Retrieved 2010-01-11. "The dramatization of Alex Haley's chronicle of his family history from his ancestors' life in tribal Africa of the eighteenth century to their emancipation in the post-Civil War South became an overnight phenomenon the subject of educational programs as well as newspaper editorials that attracted, as it progressed, the largest viewing audience ever for a dramatic TV program." 
  53. ^ Tim Arango (November 7, 2008). "Before Obama, There Was Bill Cosby". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/08/arts/television/08cosb.html. Retrieved 2010-01-11. "The Cosby Show ... succeeded in changing racial attitudes enough to make an Obama candidacy possible." 
  54. ^ a b c d John Yemma (December 14, 2009). "America's celebrity obsession: Can't live with it or without it". Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/editors-blog/2009/1214/America-s-celebrity-obsession-Can-t-live-with-it-or-without-it. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "Blame the media or blame ourselves for our current celebrity obsession. Either way, it is causing people to go to absurd lengths to grab a piece of fame. A supportive reader recently applauded the Monitor for its “low celebrity factor.” Thanks. It would be nice to be celebrity-free. It would be an affirmation of the 'not who but what' ideal of America, of merit over notoriety; achievement over personality; real news and solid citizenship over fluff, flamboyance, and scandal. Nice – but probably not possible." 
  55. ^ a b c John Lapinski (1986-03). "Schmitt, Raymond L. and Leonard, Wilbert M. "Immortalizing the Self Through Sport." American Journal of Sociology, 91:5 (Mar. 1986): 1088-1111.". American Journal of Sociology. pp. 1088-1111. http://blake.intrasun.tcnj.edu/Annotated%20culture_of_celebrity.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "They discuss the media’s role in creating the aura of celebrity that allows famous athletes’ accomplishments to endure. Fans also seek to share in this immortality by establishing what they believe to be a personal connection with famous athletes or sporting events. As the authors point out, the "technological (or graphic) revolution" has produced a shift in the values of many Americans away from "work, family, and citizenship" and towards self-gratification." 
  56. ^ Renee Hobbs (2009-12-18). "Building Citizenship Skills through Media Literacy Education". Center for Media Literacy. http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article365.html. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "How can citizens be best prepared to participate in a democracy? The complaints about spectator democracy have emerged in potent form during the 1996 election. More and more citizens are alienated from the political process. Recent studies suggest that many Americans are confused by politics because they simply don't know enough basic facts to follow a substantive political debate. The evidence is startling: 46% of Americans can't identify Newt Gingrich as the Speaker of the House, and fewer than one-third can identify the name of their representative in Congress (Morin, 1995)." 
  57. ^ LSIS (Learning and Skills Improvement Service) (2009-12-18). "News and views: citizenship and the mass media. Good for us or not?". Learning and Skills Improvement Service. http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:1Su_NZLVs2kJ:www.excellencegateway.org.uk/media/post16/files/080063_supplement.pdf+%22celebrity%22+%22mass+media%22+%22citizenship%22&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESivRHWPk1R_2CnkJVxWXkxkta1iAgEDWDgjqUSkhsahJfcTgO1hbRxkIHTw9cepT5N_dnIbGJBxv7u1S6gJqkd8RQ43S7vN9Z_vuTjJpjzgcb3A05GxY3TsUnfMOiTUjC2vjjgP&sig=AHIEtbRidLSH_I9i9pyoaBDQ6y1NDR4sUg. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "The media promote the idea that being a celebrity is easy and wonderful, so that many people become dissatisfied with their lives. They think that they can win a talent show, become a fashion model, a sports personality or a TV contestant, and their lives will change for ever." 
  58. ^ Peter Levine (October 14, 2005). "Education for Democratic Citizenship". Peter Levine. http://www.peterlevine.ws/mt/archives/000707.html. Retrieved 2009-12-18. "I want to talk about education for democracy or civic education. I will end by discussing how schools can help make adolescents into effective citizens... "Civic education” sometimes sounds like a rather specialized or optional matter--especially at the beginning of the 21st century, when we are desperately trying to make all our students competitive in a global economy that values mathematics, science, and literacy. Under these conditions, it seems necessary to explain why civic education is not a luxury that can be considered only after we are satisfied with our children’s basic literacy." 
  59. ^ "Smithfield Calendar (December 2009)". Town of Smithfield, Rhode Island. 2009-12-06. http://www.smithfieldri.com/NCalHTML/NetCal.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  60. ^ a b "Town of Casco, Maine". Town of Casco, Maine (website). 2009-12-06. http://www.cascomaine.org/. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "Our year round population of 3500 swells to 15,000 during the summer, when local youth summer camps and seasonal resorts are filled with visitors. Many of our seasonal residents have made Casco their summer home for several generations." 
  61. ^ Katie Couric (August 12, 2009). "Katie Couric's Notebook: Town Halls". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/couricandco/main500803.shtml?keyword=meeting. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "In the 19th Century, the French writer de Tocqueville came to America to see democracy in action and he witnessed its purest form -- the New England town meeting. Townspeople came together to govern their communities. And de Tocqueville said town meetings teach people how to use democracy, and how to enjoy it." 
  62. ^ Susan Heavey (March 5, 1999). "Term Limits Take Effect". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/termlimits/termlimits.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "Are career politicians bad for the country? Proponents of term limits think so, and 18 states have passed laws automatically forcing longtime legislators out of office – even if voters want to reelect them. Congressional efforts to limit the terms of members of the House and Senate died out in early 1997, but limits for members of state assemblies are flourishing." 
  63. ^ Mike Glover (November 9, 2009). "Democrat Roxanne Conlin enters US Senate race". Chicago Tribune. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2009/nov/09/local/chi-ap-ia-ussenate-conlin. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "Conlin wasn’t immediately available to comment on her entry into the race, but in a two minute video posted on her campaign Web site, she said she’s running because “career politicians” have taken control in Washington." 
  64. ^ Perry Bacon Jr. (August 31, 2009). "Post Politics Hour: Weekend Review and a Look Ahead". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/08/27/DI2009082703265.html. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  65. ^ Dennis Cauchon (2007-05-29). "Taxpayers on the hook for $59 trillion". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-05-28-federal-budget_N.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-06. "Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined. Unfunded promises made for Medicare, Social Security and federal retirement programs account for 85% of taxpayer liabilities. State and local government retirement plans account for much of the rest." 
  66. ^ a b c Laura Parker (2006-04-11). "Immigrants, backers demand citizenship". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-04-10-immigration-rallies_x.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-19. "Hundreds of thousands of people demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants took to the streets in dozens of cities from New York to San Diego on Monday in some of the most widespread demonstrations since the mass protests began around the country last month." 
  67. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Renee Montagne, Steve Inskeep, guests (June 9, 2005). "Efforts to Bring More Jurors to the Courthouse". National Public Radio (NPR). http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4695884. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "The Constitution says in Article III, all criminal cases, say, for impeachment shall be tried to a jury. So the jury is in the very separation of powers. The jury is a direct democracy. It's the New England town meeting writ large. It's the people themselves governing." 
  68. ^ Craig Calhoun (1993-03-31). "Habermas and the Public Sphere by Craig Calhoun (book review)". infibeam. 
  69. ^ Ronald Brownstein (January 10, 2001). "Bush's Call for Civil Tone Gets Rude Response". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jan/10/news/mn-10554. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "(Washington's toxic climate) ... It is structural, in other words, not personal" 
  70. ^ a b Robert Shogan (May 04, 1998). "Politicians Embrace Status Quo as Nonvoter Numbers Grow". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1998/may/04/news/mn-46261. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "Politicians who have risen to power in a low-turnout political environment have little to gain and much to fear from an expanded electorate, said Ben Ginsberg" 
  71. ^ a b c d Chuck Raasch, Gannett News Service (7/3/2004). "What does it mean to be a patriot?". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/2004-07-03-patriotism_x.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "Patriotism, in part, means sacrifice and a willingness to die for one's country, said Benjamin Ginsberg, a Johns Hopkins University political scientist and co-author of Downsizing Democracy." 
  72. ^ ROBERT SHOGAN (May 05, 1994). "POLITICS - Shad and Senate Candidates Both Feeling the Heat in Virginia - State's contentious slate converges on bipartisan fish cookout. The voters smell desperation campaigning". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1994-05-05/news/mn-54196_1_political-parties. Retrieved 2009-10-29. "Parties mean less and less, and each so-called party is breaking up into various wings." 
  73. ^ "2009 Woodman Lecture–Downsizing Citizenship or Why Everyone Should Read James Fenimore Cooper". Purdue University. October 22, 2009. http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/woodmanlecture/index.html. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  74. ^ Nelson, Dana D. (2008). Bad for Democracy: How the Presidency Undermines the Power of the People. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-8166-5677-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=qgAWphms5oMC&pg=PA223&lpg=PA223&dq=Dana+Nelson+vanderbilt%3F+%22bad+for+democracy%22&source=bl&ots=BQX29WpUEv&sig=GltrU89mO36Cvo_7SoTOPL4R47s&hl=en&ei=3X-3SpTnA46m8QbRrM2TDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3#v=onepage&q=&f=false. 
  75. ^ "The Conquest of Presidentialism". The Huffington Post. August 22, 2008. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/the-conquest-of-president_b_120582.html. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  76. ^ interview by David Schimke (September-October 2008). "Presidential Power to the People -- Author Dana D. Nelson on why democracy demands that the next president be taken down a notch". Utne Reader. http://www.utne.com/2008-09-01/Politics/Presidential-Power-to-the-People.aspx. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  77. ^ "Book review -- Bad for democracy; how the Presidency undermines the power of the people.978-0-8166-5677-6". Book News Inc.. 2009-02-01. http://www.booknews.com/ref_issues/ref_feb2009/uminn1.html. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  78. ^ Maria Brown (February 7, 2009). "Dana Nelson at Davis-Kidd -- No Such Thing as Bad Prez". Nashville Arts Scene. http://www.nashvillescene.com/2009-02-05/arts/dana-nelson-at-davis-kidd/. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  79. ^ "Q and A with Dana Nelson". University of Minnesota Press. 2009-09-21. http://www.upress.umn.edu/excerpts/NelsonQandA.html. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  80. ^ Robert D. Kaplan (1997-12-01). "Was Democracy Just a Moment?". The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97dec/democ.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "Lee Kuan Yew's offensive neo-authoritarianism ... is paternalistic, meritocratic, and decidedly undemocratic, has forged prosperity from abject poverty ... Doesn't liberation from filth and privation count as a human right? Jeffrey Sachs ... writes that "good government" means relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency." 
  81. ^ Robert D. Kaplan (1997-12-01). "Was Democracy Just a Moment?". The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97dec/democ.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-27. "...that democracy in the United States is at greater risk than ever before, and from obscure sources; and that many future regimes, ours especially, could resemble the oligarchies of ancient Athens and Sparta more than they do the current government in Washington." 

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