What are a US citizen’s duties and obligations to the government?


Recommended Posts

I am a high schooler participating in a national oratorical debate, and we have to write a 8-10 minute speech on "some aspect of the Constitution, with emphasis on a citizen’s duties and obligations to our government." I wrote a speech that ended at 12 minutes, but realized that I had entirely missed the prompt. I had written 12 minutes of the Government's duties to its citizens, but almost nowhere mentioned was the reverse. What do you think? I am beginning to include how a citizen must be actively engaged in the political process, and select the voices they want to represent them. Any help in this matter? Thank you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Evan, you might work from the idea that we the citizens are the providers of the government and therefore have a responsibility to try to see to it that the actions of our government are just. Along with that, our responsibility to government might be seen as a responsibility to ourselves and our fellow citizens to provide for government in its just functions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

-- Declaration of Independence, 1776

Government unchecked over time tends toward evil. The people must at all times hold government's feet to the fire. If they don't, they get bad government.

It is important for good people to become part of government. Good people are less likely than bad people to want to become part of government, because good people want to run their own lives and don't want to run other people's lives. But the penalty good people pay for not getting involved in government is to be ruled by bad people.

Government is a T. Rex. Don't ever let it out of the Constitution cage. Make a better cage.

Government is a fire. Don't ever let it out of the Constitution fireplace.

Who governs the government? The people. A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. (Someone said owned by pigs.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


You could go through the Bill of Rights and show how the Constitution guarantees the citizen forms of self-appointed duties to ensure a healthy government.

For instance, free speech, free press, religion, free assembly, bear arms, etc. The citizen can appoint himself the duty to exercise all this in public (or not), and defend his choice against encroachment by bureaucrats and others based on the Constitution.

These duties are not mandated by the Constitution, i.e., he doesn't have to do them (speak out in public even when unpopular or against the government's policies, publish in the press, practice a religion or lack of a religion, assemble peacefully, bear arms, etc.), but it is implied by the very nature of checks and balances that if citizens do not exercise their rights and defend them, those interested in obtaining power will alter the Constitution to remove them and thus alter the nature of the government from one fundamentally based on defending freedom for all citizens to one based on enforcing mandates on all citizens.

This constitutes a metaphysical duty for freedom lovers, not a legal one. However, the roots of this duty are implied in the way the Constitution is framed (checks and balances on power and enumeration of individual rights).


Link to comment
Share on other sites

One issue you might explore is that some of the most repressive countries in the world have a Constitution and Bill of Rights very similar to ours. Obviously, culture, history, and civic involvement play key roles in determining whether limits on government are taken seriously or whether they are just so many words on paper.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perfect day for it...222 years ago the Bill of Rights came into reality...

Below is Madison on how to enforce the Constitution...very revealing to me.


“Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassment created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, very serious impediments; and were the sentiments of several adjoining States happen to be in Union, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encount

Well written article, he concludes with:

Here’s the bottom line. You are not supposed to wait 2 or 4 years for some new politicians to get in office and give your permission to be free. You are not supposed to wait 2 or 4 or 6 years for some federal court to tell you, “ok, you be free now.”

You are supposed to stand up resist, refuse to comply and nullify unconstitutional federal acts – as soon as they happen.

All the money and time you throw at firing congress or winning in federal court will never, ever work – unless you start resisting right here in your state. And, that resistance needs to be your first response, not your last.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now