“Another Look At “Citizenship” and Its Potentials”
Possible New Meanings and Attributes
First I will try do a little background work, for the concept of “American Citizenship”, trying to start from a sensible starting point: The “Origin” Of American Citizenship.
It seems that American Citizenship, as unique functional social doctrine, began with the “Revolution” against the Royal Crown and Empire of England.
The doctrine of citizenship was truly born following the Declaration:
In the wake of the Declaration, citizenship of the United States, a previously unrecognized political construct, was born. While in the past “subjectship” defined one’s allegiance to the king, “the status of “American Citizen” was the creation of the Revolution. “In the words of Ramsay, Americans had, following the Revolution, “changed from subjects to citizens” and the “difference was immense.” Citizenship, in contrast with “Cokean Subjectship”, was not based on perpetual allegiance, but rather flowed from individual consent. This new status was created to “govern membership in a free society: republi- can citizenship ought to rest on consent; it ought to be uniform and without invidious* gradations; and it ought to confer equal rights.” 117
I found this to be interesting too.
South Texas College of Law
December 6, 2010
University of Pennsylvania Law Review PENNumbra, Vol. 159, p. 95, 2010
In his Essay “Original Citizenship”, Josh Blackman asks what the Constitution means when it refers to “citizen[s] of the United States.” Acknowledging the lack of guidance on the topic, Blackman looks to contemporary notions of citizenship, including the theories of birthright citizenship and “citizenship by election,” for help. In concluding that one could only become a citizen of the United States as of the Declaration of Independence, Blackman tracks early case law at critical points in the nation’s early history. He looks to treason cases, contested elections, and interpretations of Jay’s Treaty to determine that the only logical starting point for “original” citizenship must be the Declaration. Blackman’s piece is a much-needed contribution to a sparse area of scholarship and helps to lay the groundwork for future work on the implications of his findings.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
98 University of Pennsylvania Law Review [Vol. 159: 95
Part I of this Essay unites the Constitutional Trinity, from our “unanimous Declaration,”
to the “Confederation and perpetual Union,”
to our “more perfect Union.”
Part II discusses the legal and theoretical doctrines of citizenship
as articulated by Lord Coke in Calvin’s Case and John Locke in his
Second Treatise on Government.
The continuity of the style “the United States of America” throughout these charters reflects the permanence of the sovereignty of this republic, despite changes in the form of governance. Throughout the early years of our union, a national community was formed—the United States of America—and in this national community resided “citizens of the United States.”
I thought that “Constitutional Trinity” was an interesting reference. Though I would not include the “Declaration of Independence” as a Constitution. I believe the “Third Constitution”, of our Nation, is coming.
Here, I will end my attempt at development of some pertinent background for the concept of “American Citizenship” and begin presenting my own ideas about this.
“New Notions For The Better Meanings and Applications Of American Citizenship”.
I begin by sharing with you the notion that there should be the designation of a foundational level for members of American Society. A “Base Member Level” from which all True American Citizens should endeavor to transcend and Evolve upward from. Hierarchal notions to be sure, but with the differences of “Earned” social recognition, instead of that which might be bestowed with birth, or one’s parents station in Life…or with wealth and power.
"Consumer Member” (C.M.)
I see this designation as the starting point for all members of American Society. One is born a “Consumer Member Of American Society”, or “naturalized” as one. We should not consider birthrights to include “True Citizenship”, which is best expressed in continuous socio/political participatory action and not mere entry by birth. Birthrights should declare the right to be here, to enjoy the right of lawful due process, to own property, to have the right to work in legal gainful employment and maybe the right to medical assistance and a certain level of education.
All of Us, are born as “Consumer Member”(CM). This is the status for Americans born here (and maybe “naturalized” as legal immigrants), but have not yet made the choice to register to vote.
In society the “CM” may work, or not work. They might live in alleys, under bridges, in make shift or well-organized camps, in apartments, condos or in houses they are buying, or trading for. They may attend church, or in other ways have religious or spiritual inclinations. What they all have in common is that they have not connected themselves to and become part of the American Governance Process.
By this disconnection, they possibly express a lack of important loyalty to the American Experiment and Dream; though many of them will declare their Love of Our Nation. Maybe they just don’t feel ready to take the first step into True Citizenship. They just have not yet come up with the character strength to rise above the national Consumer Member foundational level. They are not required, by Our Second National Constitution, to directly become part of the governance process. They can stay at the Consumer Member level, their whole lives, if they want.
They live as Individuals, sometimes law abiding, sometimes not. They form Friendships and Families and are devoted to them. They just don’t get the importance of participating, or being involved in the national, state, county, or community decision-making process. Instead of casting their vote for what they believe (based on what they know, or think they know about American Society and Culture) is Just and True, they complain about what has been decided by those few who use the Consumer Member’s low involvement in society, to further their own selfish agendas. They remain the “silent majority” and “game” America for their own personal gain. As to social and political cooperation for a Better America, they are impotent. They go with the flow.
While many “CM’s” manage to earn a living, even become rich, they lack the emotional and/or mental energy to even try to understand the complexities that attend the governance process. They consider such social involvement, as not worth the trouble, or “way over their heads” and lazily leave this vital aspect of American Culture to Others.
There may come a time, in the lives of some (hopefully most) American Consumer Members, that they deem it in their best interest, to become more involved in the American Governance Process. They might suddenly think: “That it would be Better for More of Us, including “me”, to at least try to contribute the power of Our Collective Thoughts to what is best for America.” “It is time for me to do my part.” But, We need to be able to “care” enough to do this. Some will fake it. Some will pretend that they are invested in Our Nations Governance, but truly are only trying to better their own advantages in Our Society.
But, this is still Better than not being involved at all.
It is just my opinion, that We True Citizens should be Evolving away from the morally bankrupt political and economic processes, which have been done before…and still prevail today. Processes based on the abused concept of letting others make the decisions for you, for a few pragmatic reasons. Pragmatism that can be superceded by Higher Ideals and a Better Way of doing America...Being American.
American Citizenship should have more meaning attached to it than it has…more positive, symbolic, ideological and Moral structure attributed to the Individuals who embrace the status and prestige of it. If We The People can attain this new meaning, then We will have an important tool to make Our Nation Better. This is where it becomes important for Us to recognize the efforts and contributions of others. And this recognition can be the foundation for a “New Hierarchy” that reflects real achievements of Us, for Our Nation.
American Citizenship should become a beneficial hierarchal system that reflects levels and merits of Citizenship. All of Us enjoy being appreciated for special, or extra, effort and achievement. Each Citizenship level would have its own earned honorable status, that could be expressed with brand new words constructed for Our Language, that represents these levels.
It is in my mind that there are (or should be) different degrees of Citizenship expression. Recognized and appreciated by all levels of American Citizens…and Consumer Members; if they are capable.
These levels of Citizenship should be rewarded. The higher the attainment of “achievement status level”, the higher the “reward”…and recognition.
And We could find artistic ways to express this recognition. For this symbology We could bring forward certain ideas from the “old hierarchies” and make these even Better for Our Times.
I don’t have a clear idea as to how many levels of “American Citizenship Hierarchy” there should be. Maybe three would be Good.
Out of the Consumer Member level, (the first member level) will emerge those that, for one reason, or another, suddenly see the “light” and register to vote. Just registering to vote is not enough, these “Risers” will actually vote and become part of the vital governance process…adding to the Collective Strength of Evolving America. With repeated exposure to the electoral process and practice, these Risers will become Better at this process and more valuable to Our Nation.
And, by doing this, Truly Claim this level of upward social mobility. They will have become a higher earned social status, and will feel Good about themselves. By climbing to this second step in the New American Earned Citizen Hierarchy, they Earn the immediate reward (or should) of the “American Earned Guaranteed Income”; a basic income safety net that reassures and strengthens a True Citizen and provides additional incentive to become one.
This incentive would be especially attractive to the “homeless”, but We The People must be very diligent in making sure that Citizenship is practiced and not merely used for gain. There should be some well thought out and agreeable way of monitoring the activity of the different levels of Citizenship. Maybe some strong technology within a Citizen Institution that is ever on guard against corruptive influences in Our Society. “Eyes Of The People”, or some such.
From this first entry level to higher participation, two more steps can be taken that increases the strengths of American Governance.
All of these “Riser Steps” might look something like:
Citizenship Level 1 (Citizen) = Entered upon when registering to vote and voting. Vital to the governance process; Of The People, For The People and BY The People. Probably a majority of the American People will stay at this level. But with time, this level can become very adept at performing its Citizenship Duties. More and Better…a motto of the Evolutionary Social Process.
Citizenship Level 2 (DeCi) [ Des’ see] –
Referring to a Dedicated Citizen that goes somewhere beyond the voting commitment) in activities that enhance and strengthen the governance process. Campaigning for their representative choices, getting proposals on the ballot, presenting petitions to The People for signing, helping to run national web sites and facilities that reinforce the Direct Democracy Governance Process (or some other) etc.
Citizenship Level 3 (HiParDeCi – “High Participant Dedicated Citizens”) [Office and “Bench” Holders – Advisors – Civic, Departmental and Bureaucratic Service, Sheriffs and other Law Enforcement, Military Leadership; Public Servants as Leadership Cadre.] –
This is EARNED! It should not happen without hard work and Good Heart and Mind Devotion to Our Nation…and Us.
This “high” level of Citizenship, referring to those (preferably volunteers) that are comfortable in their social achievements in Life and have dedicated their selves and later Lives mostly to Public Service. Executing well the Will Of The People…the “New States Persons” Of Social Truth and Goodness, will leave the “Old Self Serving and Game Playing Politician” behind, as a dominant force in Our Culture.
Though the words, for these levels of Citizenship, sound somewhat Italian or Roman (and this bothers me a little because of the negative history of the Roman Empire), it might be better to “coin” brand new American words for these Citizenship levels. But, it IS American Tradition, for Better or worse, to kind of “echo” the Roman Culture. So, I will develop these levels, for the Better (as I see it), as they are and could be. Ultimately The American People will decide what these levels should be and what they are called.
Fairness and Hierarchy in True Citizenship
There will be some of Us, who believe that my ideas about Citizenship are “invidious” in one or both of the ways that are revealed in the below definition.
A lot of these Individuals will also resent the concept of “merit” and “meritocracy”. They struggle with the relationship between “earning” and “reward”. These are the same ones who try to avoid consequences for their decisions also…and feel entitled to get and have, without earning, anything that others have worked hard to “earn”. Maybe these are seeing something that I am failing to see.
But it seems to me that “Fairness”, in this case, is best served by rewarding extra, or above normal, Individual efforts to make something Better (Our Nation). This is called incentive to do Better. I see nothing wrong with this idea, but We must watch out for abuses of it… “taking it too far.” This “merit” and “reward” is, of course, available to all who can and will achieve it. Those that think they cannot do it, should find Good ways to do it, or be content with their lot. They do not have the right to try and disparage and deny True Merit and Reward for everyone. And if “reward” includes a recognition place in hierarchy that serves the interests of the Nation and it’s Citizenry, then that is a Good Thing.
All We have to do, is be very careful about the extending of “privileges”, to those that achieve more for their society than others. A Moral “Spirit of Basic and Mutualistic Equality”, added to a “Spirit Of Social Service” has to be maintained, for the sake of the Dynamic Balance in Our Culture.
Basically, let Us not fear “invidiousness”. We must turn toward and HONESTLY address, dissent to Our Ideas. We must find out the TRUTHFUL WHY of Our Differences. If Good is found on both sides, then beneficial compromises can be achieved. If there is “bad” on either, or both, sides of an issue, then it is Our Duty to reduce it, or eradicate it. This is part of the “Ideal Representative” and Direct Democracy Ways.
The “Merit” of the “Consumer Member” Base.
The “Consumer Member” base, of this new Citizenship notion for Our Nation, begins in Fairness. It automatically provides “Basic Rights” to everyone born in Our Sovereign Territory. It provides the basic support and tools needed to become More and Better.
We can give the basics for Citizen Success, but Citizenship itself should be earned.
My purpose in submitting these ideas here, is clarify and strengthen the “Citizens Party” social position and give it (in my opinion) a superior vanguard edge in useful moral concept for leadership in the governance of Our Nation.