Answering the president's call for active citizenry

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This is radical only if you believe that our citizens do not deserve to be heard. This is radical if you do not believe that citizens are paying for their government to operate effectively.


Some will say President Obama moved to the left. If urging Americans to restore dignity to the office of citizenship that all eligible Americans have the responsibility to nurture is left, then what is right? The right demands individual responsibility much more vociferously than the left. We can easily espouse the uniqueness of our democracy for citizens’ rights and responsibilities from left, right and center.

Our president calls for the end of ideological wars of words. He challenges not only Congress, but the American citizenry, to stand up to the task of uniting our great country by accepting our challenges and working towards greatness. Unless we acknowledge our challenges, we will never cut a pathway to dialogue about their solutions.

Congress has failed to carry on its educative function. Demand more from our Congresspeople this next week and a half as they return home for a ten day hiatus. Make your voices heard and demand an engagement with your official to seek local community summits now on immigration, gun violence, climate change, job creation, education, taxation or whatever other issues that demand an aroused and informed citizenry to move our democracy forward.

Let’s answer the president’s call for an active citizenry to engage with each other, to educate each other, and to cooperate and compromise with each other, at this critical time in our democracy. The president has spoken from the paradigm from which he sees the world; that is, the necessity for the people to stand up for justice and to speak truth to power.

Now is the time for our democracy to test its mettle. I believe in the American people. We can get the job done. Let citizenship once again rise to be the voices of courage and conviction. Let citizenship be measured as working for our country and our fellow citizens.

It has been a long time since a president asked us to get busy and take our office of citizenship seriously. Let us not fail each other.

Julian is a professor and provost faculty fellow in the Political Science Department at Pace University in New York.