The Constitution establishes the U.S. system of representative democracy and outlines the inherent principles of freedom, liberty, and opportunity to which all citizens are entitled. The continuity of this Nation’s unique freedoms depends on the support of its citizens. When the Constitution and its ideals are challenged, citizens must defend these principles against all adversaries.

 

U.S. citizens should learn about the issues and candidates running for office before casting a vote in an election. Staying informed allows citizens the opportunity to keep the candidates and laws responsive to the needs of the local community.

 

Voting in federal, state, and local elections is the most important responsibility of any citi­zen. Voting ensures that our system of govern­ment is maintained and individual voices are clearly heard by elected officials.

 

Laws are rules of conduct that are established by an authority and followed by the commu­nity to maintain order in a free society. Every person living in the United States must follow laws established through federal, state, and local authorities.

 

Though the United States is a nation of diverse backgrounds and cultures, our common civic values unite us as one nation. Tolerance, through courtesy and respect for the beliefs and opinions of others, is the hallmark of a civilized society and ensures the continuity of liberty and freedom for future generations.

 

Being a responsible member of one’s local community is important to the success of representative democracy. Community engage­ment through volunteerism, participation in town hall meetings and public hearings, joining a local parent-teacher association, and running for public office are ways individuals can actively contribute to the well-being of the community.

 

Taxes pay for government services for the people of the United States. Some of these services include: educating children and adults, keeping our country safe and secure, and providing medical services to the elderly and less fortunate. Paying taxes on time and in full ensures that these services continue for all Americans.

 

For U.S. citizens, serving on a jury is a very important service to the community. The Constitution guarantees that all persons ac­cused of a crime have the right to a “speedy and public trial by an impartial jury.” Jury service gives U.S. citizens the opportunity to participate in the vital task of achieving just, fair results in matters that come before the court.

 

The Armed Forces of the United States, the military, is currently an all-volunteer force. However, should the need arise in time of war, it is important that all citizens join together and assist the Nation where they are able. This support could include defending the Nation through military, noncombatant, or civilian service.