What Does it Mean to be an American? Reexamining the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship

Apr 20, 2022 |
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When Americans are asked what unites them, an increasingly common answer is “nothing.” Amid extreme partisan polarization, trust in government institutions hovers near record lows and a large majority of Americans believe their values are under attack. In this context, what do Americans owe to each other and their country? What values hold the nation together, and what does it mean to be a “good citizen”? How should Americans’ rights and responsibilities evolve in the 21st century?

This program brought together a distinguished panel of experts to examine how the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship are connected and how they might be used to create a greater sense of common purpose. The event was moderated by Danielle Allen, co-chair of the Academy’s Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, and panelists included E.J. Dionne, co-author of 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting, María Teresa Kumar, President of Voto Latino and MSNBC Contributor, and John Shattuck, co-author of Holding Together: The Hijacking of Rights in America and How to Reclaim Them for Everyone.