A citizen is an individual who enjoys legal rights of a country. For one to qualify to be a citizen of a country, there are certain legal requirements that he has to fulfill. After one has fulfilled all these requirements, then he can be said to have acquired citizenship. These requirements vary, depending on the country involved. The most common means through which one can become a citizen is by birth. Even with this, some countries put some legal requirements such where the conception took place. Countries like US have been controlling the population growth by limiting the number of immigrants. To a citizen of a country is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. A good citizen should participate fully in the running of his country. These responsibilities are vested upon the citizens by constitution.
Democracy on the other hand is the way people decide about the method that they wish to be ruled. The democratic space to citizens enhances the participation of the citizens in ruling a country. For example, it is the responsibility of the citizens to elect the government of the day. This can only be possible if the government gives the citizens a chance to participate in a free and fair election. A good citizen should be involved in solving the problems in his country and provide solutions. This calls for active citizenship. The American began pressing through the civil rights movement. These movements finally bore the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This act was to ensure that the voting procedure was free from any malpractice. This would be supervised by the Department of justice.
Roles of a good citizen
Good citizenship requires one to be focused, vigilant and open minded. When the American citizens realized that the government was infringing their democratic rights, they took it upon them to correct the situation. They formed the ‘Municipal Citizenship’. This was to make sure that the officials in the government are held responsible for actions and to foster transparency in governance. A strong society promotes effective governance, a factor that lacks in many countries. The government should ensure that it earns the confidence of its citizens. However, a responsible society should be in a position to help the government in running their country. A good example is community policing. Community policing helps the government in beefing up security in a given area.
When the citizens fail to participate in the provision of security by hiding criminals amongst them, it becomes difficult for the government to guarantee security. Several methods can be used to ensure that citizens live in peace and harmony. First, they can organize themselves into small crime-watch groups whose main aim is to make sure that peace prevails and the criminal acts are eliminated. The use of internet to solve problems in jour neighborhood is a viable option. It is people who are close to us that commit crimes and when we are willing to share this information with the police, the government can provide our security easily.
Another important but neglected role of a good citizen is the participation in national development. Citizens can be involved in voluntary work like road construction, community cleaning and digging of bore holes. All these activity are aimed at improving the livelihood of the citizens. When the citizens take part in economic activities like farming and trading, they boost the economic development and curb dependence on the government. It is also important to note that the economic progress of any country depends on the ability of her citizens to provide labor. A good citizen must be ready to work to provide for his up-keep and those who depend on him. A working nation fends for its citizens with ease.
Participation in election is also another key factor for a good citizen. Politics is a game that cannot be left entirely on the hands of politicians. Citizens should be observant and vigilant to ensure that those who are elected to political offices are responsible. Cases of low voter turnout should not arise if all the citizens took their duties seriously. Everybody who has attained the voting age should take part in electing their leaders. To avoid cases of dissatisfaction of the citizen with the government, it is the legal duty of the citizens to participate in elections. With full participation of the citizen in elections, they feel part and parcel of the government of the day.
Another very vital role of a citizen is the participation in the public service. A good number of the US citizens have been recruited in the armed forces to defend their country during time of crisis. Many citizens have also joined the voluntary organizations like the Peace Corps to maintain peace in their country and the world at large. This promoted loyalty to the country as those who serve in the forces are natives.
A good responsible citizen must pay legal as required by the law. The tax is what the government use to provide services to its citizens. When one pays tax, he actually contributes directly to governance of his country.
The fact that the public has lot interest in civic participation is worryi. As evident in the recent elections, the voter turnout has been dropping. This trend is worrying since it the public that should participate more in elections. The young generation seems less interested in civic participation and politics in general. It only the Americans who can decide on their future and running away from civic participation are never and will never bring a solution to their problems. In fact, their full participation can bring a lot of changes that they aspire for.
Strong democracy represents the interest of the people and without democracy; citizens may seem disinterested in civic participation. However, it is the duty of the citizens to change the situation. The professionals in different field can join hands and come up with policies that ensure full public participation in governance. Learning institutions are very important for civic education. Students, who are the future leaders, should be well informed of the important of civic education. Since the youth have resorted to education as the main pillar for prosperity, it only wise to use those learning intuition to educate them about public engagement.
In conclusion, democracy is an important tool for governance. The government should recognize the role of the citizens in governance. Full participation of the citizens ensures trust and smooth running of government. We should also understand that it is not only quantity that engages in civic activities but also the quality of the ideas they bring forth. As such, full participation also calls for clear and logical mind to spearhead development.
Smith, S. (2007, September 12). Concept ofActive Citizenship. pp. 1-16.
Smith, S. (2007, September 5). Democracy Not 'Liberty' and 'Equality' Our Political Dualism. pp. 1-161
Smith, S. (2007, August 26). Putting Citizens First.
Smith, S. (2007, August 26). Towards a Political Science of Citizenship. pp. 1-19.