I recently had a tense discussion about civic duty with a well-informed young man that does not believe in civic duty in regards to voting. My point was that regardless of your party affiliation, the candidates, etc., you are responsible for voting.
Theodore Roosevelt once said that “A U.S. Citizen being virtuous must not become ineffective, and not excuse himself for shirking his duties by any false plea that he cannot do his duties and retain his self-respect. This is nonsense, he can; and when he urges such a plea it is a mark of mere laziness and self-indulgence.”
Wanting to prove a point that the U.S. Government does expect certain inalienable duties, I found some details at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
|Freedom to express yourself.||Support and defend the Constitution.|
|Freedom to worship as you wish.||Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.|
|Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.||Participate in the democratic process.|
|Right to vote in elections for public officials.||Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.|
|Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.||Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.|
|Right to run for elected office.||Participate in your local community.|
|Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”||Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.|
|Serve on a jury when called upon.|
|Defend the country if the need should arise.|
While these are not all, they certainly cover most. Yes, it is your right to vote. It is not compulsory, it is a privilege AND a responsibility. As stated above, “Participate in your local community.” If voting is not participating in your local community then what category does it fall in?
Roosevelts closing statement of his speech in 1883 rings so true even today;
“In facing the future and in striving, each according to the measure of his individual capacity, to work out the salvation of our land, we should be neither timid pessimists nor foolish optimists. We should recognize the dangers that exist and that threaten us: we should neither overestimate them nor shrink from them, but steadily fronting them should set to work to overcome and beat them down. Grave perils are yet to be encountered in the stormy course of the Republic — perils from political corruption, perils from individual laziness, indolence and timidity, perils springing from the greed of the unscrupulous rich, and from the anarchic violence of the thriftless and turbulent poor. There is every reason why we should recognize them, but there is no reason why we should fear them or doubt our capacity to overcome them, if only each will, according to the measure of his ability, do his full duty, and endeavor so to live as to deserve the high praise of being called a good American citizen.”