Sunday, September 06, 2009

Citizens or subjects

And yet, the nation is divided again, this time over perhaps a larger question: Are we citizens or are we subjects?

It's a civil war of sorts.

The British people are subjects under a constitutional monarchy that provides a titular head of state, who reinforces the relationship between the government and the governed.

The state must take care of its subjects. The British like this.

Citizenship is messier. People have more personal responsibility.

Everyone is equal. People shout down congressmen. How rude.

I can see why Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco thinks such behavior is "un-American."

She sees the American people as subjects, not citizens.

So does the president.

"The Constitution is a charter of negative liberties," President Obama said in 2001. "Says what states can't do to you. Says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf."

Read it all

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