The Question Of Citizenship

Now here is a question for the day.

These days there will be all sorts of items in this debate….but since this is an civics post let’s look at the Founders and their chore of writing a document for all Americans.

Our politics is currently overwhelmed with identity. Rights, votes, participation, all understanding of one’s place in the country is said to be based on one’s “identity.” The one identity that people shy away from is that of the American citizen. Who precisely is this person?

The American Constitution speaks in the voice of “We the People,” but never defines who that people might be, even if they already existed in 1787, even before the establishment of a “more perfect Union.” Who are these Americans? Who, as an individual, is an American? On the one hand, this is a simple question to answer. There is a legal definition of citizenship based on birth or naturalization, and some people simply are Americans and others are not. It is a matter of paperwork.

On the other hand, it is not so easy to answer, as we can see from the history of this country. Whether someone is a citizen and how that might be defined has been the source of the most contentious controversies. For instance, Dred Scott appealed to his status as a citizen of Missouri to argue for his freedom from slavery. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, in his infamous decision, denied the possibility of citizenship to Scott and all those whose descendants were forcefully brought to this country – a denial Abraham Lincoln would ferociously challenge.

About 4 years ago I wrote a post covering the phenom of the division of American into ‘tribes’….


This country has been slowly dividing along tribal lines since 1980 and came to more pronounce with the emergence of the Tea Party in 2010 and this country has descending into chaos every since…..and nothing has occurred that would change the direction of our society….and it seems to be getting worse with each passing day…..fed by lies and disinformation

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7 thoughts on “The Question Of Citizenship

  1. America has always had some concept of a “far/extreme right wing” going back to just after the signing of the Constitution. Those early “rebellions” for taxation and trade were fed in part from a “right wing”. Well into the 1800’s and early 1900’s in the large cities.. New York… there were bombings attributed to “anarchists” (though at the time may have been other interests making it look like right wing anarchists). Riots on Irish immigrants. The early labor union struggles had a right wing component. It’s always been simmering just under the radar.. and Trump seemed to have emboldened their cause into mainstream Republicanism as they finally found a charismatic leader to grab on to that made it to the White House.

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