What does it mean to be a citizen? Webster’s defines it as “a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government…”
So again I will ask what does it mean to be a citizen?
Mac Regan explores this very question in his new book, ‘Global Citizen Patriots’. He challenges the idea that to be a true ‘citizen’ requires more than just birthright or naturalization.
According to Regan to be a true citizen one must: take part in our political process, have knowledge of our government and how it functions, take on the corruption within the two-party system, and be willing to stand up for what is best for the people.
“At present, our political debates have devolved into a state of sensationalistic reality television characterized by bias, misinformation, and a lack of civility,” Regan says. “Global Citizen Patriots suggests strategies to create reasoned debate and accountabilities designed to engage citizens and reward their participation.”
Regan floats the idea that citizenship must be earned by voting and engaging in our democracy. He also argues that citizenship should be taken from those who fail to do their part in our democracy. This idea would strip citizenship from half of the American population, as they did not vote in the last elections.
Is this what we need to do in order to get the attention of the millions of Americans who have failed in their duties as citizens?
“Citizenship is the most important job in an effective democracy and it should have accountabilities, rewards and penalties that ensure that the job is well done. But citizens are created not born,” Regan writes in Global Citizen Patriots.
Regan wants to create a “citizens bill of responsibilities” to motivate and engage citizens beyond just military service, jury duty, and voting. He also states that creating strong Global Citizen Patriots begins by strengthening our education system, spending more time on government and politics, and testing student’s knowledge before granting them citizenship at age 18.
Immigrants must pass a rigorous testing of our political process, branches of government, and our history, before being granted citizenship. Why do we not require the same of our birthright citizens?
When 1,000 U.S. citizens were asked to take America’s official citizenship test, twenty-nine percent couldn’t name the vice president, seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War, and forty-four percent were unable to describe the Bill of Rights. With such an ill-informed and disinterested populace, it’s no wonder that our representative form of government is falling short.
Millions of Americans are outraged at Congress and our entire political process as they continue to fail the American people. These elected leaders continue to push their partisan agendas instead of doing what is best for the American people.
Our government is failing to what “we the people” want and are beholden to the special interests that fund their never-ending campaigns. We need leaders not lackey’s, Regan argues.
A reoccurring theme in the book is that we must make sacrifices in the short term to make substantive gains in the future. We need representatives who listen to “we the people” and who are willing to do whatever it takes, no matter the cost.
Take for example the idea of raising taxes to rebuild our nations roads and bridges, and to expand our national railroad system. A short-term loss that would create millions of jobs, make it easier for businesses to move their products throughout the country, and ultimately strengthen our economy in the future.
Regan also goes into great detail about the corruption of our elected leaders. Businesses buy politicians and in turn politicians reward businesses with government funds. This never-ending cycle is commonly referred to as “crony capitalism” and must be stopped. Ending crony capitalism begins with limiting, or completely eliminating, money in politics.
To create a stronger, healthy democracy we must take back our government from the crony capitalists. To do this Regan says we must become Global Citizen Patriots.
“Recognizing the challenges inherent in broad-based citizenship, the founding fathers of our democracy wisely set in place a system of representation designed to balance the expressed, and often short term, needs of various citizen constituencies with the broader, and longer term, goals of society,” Regan explains. “The question now is, can American citizens and their representatives live up to the legacy of America’s founders?”
Mac Regan spent 35 years as a consultant and executive for Mercer, a large multinational corporation, before attending the Graduate Master of Arts Program (GMAP) at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), where he expanded and improved his understanding of the U.S. from a global perspective. He has significant expertise in human capital management including role design, compensation and incentives, technical and emotional competencies, health care systems and financing, retirement programs, and labor productivity, which has been invaluable in helping to inform his new book, Global Citizen Patriots.
In addition to providing concrete strategies to address the crisis of a disengaged and angry citizenry, Global Citizen Patriots offers insight into:
- How to make elected representatives more accountable to “we the people” and ensure that they do their jobs
- Why we need to pay our congressional representatives more and what’s in it for citizens
- Why only America qualifies as the essential global leader and ways we can better fulfill this role
- Why periodic evaluation and discussion of America’s values is essential to compromise and change
Global Citizen Patriots is available on Amazon.com.