April 14, 2010

April 14, 2010 | Commentary on Civil Society, Rule of Law

Filling Out the Census Just One of Many Civic Duties

By now, we all should have returned our Census forms to the government, thus fulfilling an important obligation we face every 10 years. The success of the Census largely hinges upon every household taking the time to complete this important form. But remember: it’s just one of the many civic duties that come with being an American.

Freedom, liberty and the opportunity all have to succeed are just a handful of the reasons this country is exceptional. Not surprisingly, the U.S. has been drawing millions of risk takers to these shores for centuries, creating a fertile soil for entrepreneurship and innovation. Additionally, our representative democracy ensures that our government derives its power from the consent of the governed.

But this right to participate in government also carries civic obligations. In short, our country is unique not only because of the value we place on freedom — but also because of the responsibility placed on each and every citizen who wishes to call himself an American.

In other words, living in the “land of the free” comes with a price.

The Founders envisioned that Americans would perform civic duties, and these include: paying taxes, registering to vote, respecting the rule of law and serving on juries, among other duties. Of course, to fulfill many of our civic duties, it’s vital to master the English language. Also it’s important that we be aware of our country’s history to appreciate the sacrifices of those who came before us so that we might live in this unique country.

For these reasons, anyone wishing to become a naturalized citizen must prove that he/she has a strong command of English and is knowledgeable of America’s history.

Many of us have heard of these things before, but it’s worth repeating because if our country — and everything it stands for — is to survive for future generations, we must recognize the responsibilities and duties that come with being an American.

Our community faces unique challenges, including double-digit unemployment and an alarmingly elevated high-school dropout rate. Far too many of us are struggling to get by, and too many of our children are failing to receive a quality education from our public school system.

Faced with these challenges, we are being offered a choice. For many, the answer to is to give more power to government. Many say the state must grow in order to ameliorate society’s ills. Unfortunately, like many of the things we see advertised on television, it’s important to read the fine print. The truth is that every time we cede more control to the government, we become more dependent on it. The better choice is not dependence on government to solve problems for us, but binding together in our community and solving problems together, voluntarily.

And so, although the act of filling out a Census form may appear trivial, it’s important that we see this exercise as an extension of our many civic duties. This is especially important for our community because the Census is expected to confirm our growing numbers all across the country.

If we are to translate our numbers into influence, then it’s crucial that we fulfill our civic duties and lead with example. The success of our country rests upon how seriously we take our responsibilities as citizens of this blessed land.

Israel Ortega is a Senior Media Services Associate at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. www.heritage.org.

About the Author

Israel Ortega Contributor, The Foundry
Accounting

First appeared in The Americano