Citizens share with governments the responsibility to uphold a just political community.
Responsible citizenship includes not only abiding by the law, paying taxes, and enjoying the benefits of law-abiding behavior, but also helping to shape the political community to conform to the demands of justice.
Citizens should thus be able to exercise their influence by means of the media and other independent organizations, such as think tanks, lobbying organizations, and advocacy groups. Freedoms of speech and association are necessary civil rights since they are two of the means by which citizens exercise individual and organized influence in society. The Center for Public Justice is one expression of the free exercise of responsibility in the United States. It exists to educate citizens, develop leaders, and shape policy proposals as a means of advancing the vision of politics and government articulated in its Guidelines for Government and Citizenship.
For citizens to exercise effective influence on government, they must have adequate representation in government through elections to legislative assemblies and executive offices.
The aim of periodic elections should be to place representatives of the people in government offices. Elections to legislative bodies are not acts of governing, but acts of gaining representation in government. A healthy electoral system is one in which those elected are put forward and held accountable by the people they represent. Elected officials should not be beholden to powerful interest groups or the wealthy, ahead of the body of citizens they represent.
It is essential to the civic health of the American republic that ongoing electoral reform take place, making more adequate representation possible for all citizens.