The Many Ways to Be a Good Citizen

From the Revolutionary Era to Today, "Doing Your Part” Has Meant Different Things for Different Americans

The Constitution tells us what makes a citizen of the United States, legally speaking. But over the decades, American citizenship—and the ingredients that make a good citizen in a modern Republic—has been a subject of debate. Voting and serving in the armed forces are part of the equation to be sure. But for some women, minorities, and others, who haven’t always been allowed to participate in elections or to fight, good citizenship has meant engaging in protest and agitating for the privilege of full participation in civic life. For …

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My Country ’Tis a Book

Are We Still Searching for ‘The Great American Novel’?

Most credentialed literary critics disdain it as a grandiose hyperbole, and creative writers tend to speak of it in jest. But for almost 150 years, all of us—writers, readers, cultural …

America Is More of a Club Than a Family

Our Ability to Opt in—or Out—Defines Our National Character

Over the course of the last 15 years or so, there’s been an explosion in the number of charter schools around the country. According to the latest figures (from 2012), …