So on my way into court for jury duty today, I had a thought that’s occurred to me before. And strangely enough, it was again addressed in the book I was reading in the Juror’s Lounge while waiting to be called–The Federalist Papers:
Why are people born in this country automatically subject to citizenship and all the requirements that come with it?
Even my church, which promises salvation and grape juice to anyone who asks, requires that you go through confirmation classes and a ceremony in order to become an official member. But in the U.S., anyone born here is automatically a citizen and required to do things like register for the draft and serve on juries and such.
I’m not saying it’s a bad deal, because there’s certainly some cool things that you get in exchange, like a common defense and free flags in the newspaper every spring. But why is it automatic. I’m less concerned with wether or not everyone deserves it, than I am with why it is actually forced on people. I’ve actually known people who went to the trouble of renouncing their citizenship. (Wonder how their life has gotten over the last few years?)
Even Hamilton, arguing for a stronger Federal government in The Federalist Papers, cites the lack of popular support in establishing the original Articles of Confederation as one of their weaknesses. He asks why people should be subject to the rule of a document they never got to vote on.
Shouldn’t it either be much easier to renounce your citizenship, (and yes, all the benefits that come with it), or like a church, shouldn’t you be included automatically up to a certain age, at which point you must make an educated decision as to wether you wish to remain officially associated with the entity? Or possibly something like Robert Heinlein suggests in Starship Troopers, where you can live a fairly normal life and even be successful. But if you wished to have any say in government, you had to provide some civil or military service to that government, to show your dedication to the body.
I don’t think that there should necessarily be citizenship tests for people born into this society. We’ve proven generally bad at coming up with simple, fair tests. But attend a class that talks about all you’re getting and all that will be required of you, and at the end of it, you have an interview where you state your choice.