The Meaning of American Citizenship

At the Heritage Foundation website, Carson Holloway, a Visiting Fellow in American Political Thought and an associate professor of political science at the University of Nebraska Omaha, reports on “The Meaning of American Citizenship,” and summarizes his report as follows: 

Many today think about American citizenship either in terms of rights or of diversity. But recurrence to the American founding can help disabuse us of such distorted views. Citizenship involves governing the community and is therefore as much a privilege as a right. And while the American regime is based on principles that permit and even encourage a certain diversity among its citizens, attention to the thought of the Founders reminds us that citizenship also demands unity among citizens. Citizens must be unified in their commitment to the principles of our government, and, just as importantly, they must share in a capacity to exercise the habits of mind and character that will preserve our political way of life.

Professor Holloway identifies three “Key Takeaways” from his report:

1. American citizenship is a responsibility and a privilege based on shared values like individual rights and equality under the law.

2. Regrettably, the meaning of American citizenship has become distorted by political interests.

3. Americans must be called upon to love their country, defend its particular interests, and cherish its unique historical identity.

Happy July 4th!