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‘Voting just the beginning of responsibility in a democracy’

Democracy is defined as that system of government where as many people as possible are enfranchised (empowered) to participate in all the civil rights society has to offer, including voting and office holding.

However, today many Americans balk at even participating in voting, believing they are exercising sufficient democratic responsibility just by living out their dreams and doing whatever they please.

Their commitment to the community stops when they get out of high school.

But voting is only just the beginning of responsibility in a democracy. Other citizen responsibilities include exercising oversight over the operations of government, expressing informed opinion in public forums, reading newspapers and other reliable communications media, periodically attending government budget meetings and revenue raising sessions, and participating in nonprofit educational, health, welfare and criminal justice programs.

Traditionally, mandatory participation in public health prevention programs is right up there with public militia defense of our localities and states, coming to the aid of neighbors in dire economic straits, the creation of safe and beautiful city streets, buildings, fields, marketplaces,and natural preserves, participating in election campaigns, and lobbying for the laws and policies we want our communities to be governed by.

Democracies must also have adult continuing education programs, usually performed during special patriotic holidays. Today we “party hearty” on these national holidays, and don’t learn a thing about our Constitution or anything else.

Needless to say, we are falling far short in all of this citizen responsibility. Informed voting is too much work for many of our citizens. So are other responsibilities like getting an education, raising a family and participating in jury duty.

There are still other necessary activities and commitments involved in good citizenship in a real democracy. For one, there is a responsibility to participate in the workforce. If democracy wants civil rights for all people, the nation must have gainful work from all in a right-minded, free economy undergirded by appropriate and humane regulatory constraints.

Democracy is even within its rights to enact semicompulsory national and state civil service in addition to semicompulsory military service from all.

The nation doesn’t work for the individual unless the individual works for the nation.

Another key part of democracy is lengthy compulsory education of young people so they can learn the basic law of the land, the history of our own and other democratic societies, and the arts and sciences.

We are miserably failing in our responsibility to provide a constitutional legal education for children, according to standardized tests given at intervals in the public schools. The civic and political behavior of these children once they have become adults proves that our education programs have failed.

Democracy is committed to the highest levels of science known to society, including the physical sciences, social and communication sciences, and the health and engineering/technology sciences. Higher education is virtually mandatory in a democracy since knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are paramount for the nation to survive.

Today, our young people believe they have arrived when they can operate an iPhone and cruise social media.

Democracy is dedicated to decentralized government. In particular, it is dedicated to placing the raising and governing of children in the hands of their parents, and in defending and promoting local home rule and states’ rights.

Minimal interstate government functions that states may not be able to handle like defense, postal operations, immigration, and currency and treasury operations, are operated out of the national level.

Robert Kimball Shinkoskey is the author of books and editorials on democracy, religion, and the American presidency and lives in Woods Cross, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City.