To pass the US citizenship test, you will have to answer 10 of a possible 100 questions. The following question is from the USCIS test.
What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?
- serve on a jury
- vote in a federal election
The following is a full explanation of the USCIS question:
Both answers are great examples, although you only have to give one of them. However, they can also be a little misleading on their own. These responsibilities are part of a larger list of duties expected of a United States citizen. Furthermore, one of these is mandatory and the other voluntary.
Therefore, it is helpful for all those applying for citizenship to have a better idea of the difference between mandatory and voluntary responsibilities, some of the examples, and why these two given answers are so important.
Mandatory vs. Voluntary Responsibilities for Citizens of the United States
Mandatory responsibilities are those that are required of all citizens, potentially by law, where the person has no right to refuse. This is the case for jury duty and other responsibilities mentioned below. Then there are the voluntary ones where it is hoped that all citizens will carry out the duties, but there is nothing to make them do so. This is true for voting rights in a federal election and other civic duties within the community.
Examples of Mandatory Responsibilities
This is an interesting one when it comes to mandatory responsibilities. All citizens have the right to a fair trial by jury under the United States Constitution. This, in turn, leads to the responsibility of citizens to form those impartial juries and help the judicial process. It is possible to be excused and given an exemption. However, failure to appear twice can be classed as contempt of court, leading to potential punishments.
The mandatory responsibility here also ties in with being summoned or subpoenaed during a trial. It is the responsibility of that potentially crucial witness to give evidence and to do so truthfully for a just outcome.
Obeying the Law
The responsibility to obey the law is also seen in the promises made when becoming an American citizen. All those that want to be treated as United States citizens and given the same rights as those born here need to follow the same rules. This means obeying all state and federal laws and being prepared for the same punishments for breaking them.
Signing Up for the Selective Service
Selective service is another promise made when taking the Oath of Allegiance. During that oath, there is the pledge to be available to serve the country where necessary in the military. This means that should there ever be the need for a draft, the federal government can call on citizens that are ready, willing, and able.
Another aspect of this system is where men who are either citizens or non-citizens register for a theoretical draft at the age of 18. Again, this means that should the worst happen and war is declared, there is a pool of suitable candidates to bolster numbers in the military. So, should a newly naturalized citizen fall into that age bracket, there would be a responsibility to sign up. For now, this only applies to men and not women.
It is often said that two unavoidable things in life are death and taxes. Taxes exist in many forms, with citizens and non-citizens paying in ways they don’t always realize.
Sales taxes will quickly increase costs. But, there are also other forms of tax to pay, such as Social Security, property, and income tax. All those with taxes to pay must do so at the appropriate rate to help fund valuable services for education, healthcare, and infrastructure.
Examples of Voluntary Responsibilities
Voting in a Federal Election
No law makes it mandatory to vote in a federal election, which is why you see stats about voter turnout figures in each election. Some believe that it should be mandatory to create a fairer representation of the nation’s views and prevent voter suppression. Others would argue that to do so would go against freedom of speech to decline to vote for either candidate. A spoiled and invalid ballot would be an alternative option in such a scenario.
Although voting isn’t mandatory, it is still expected for citizens to do their duty to the country and community by engaging in politics. This correlates with the Oath of Allegiance’s promise to serve the country outside of military duty.
Community and Volunteer Work
There is an expectation that people will take some of their spare time and use it towards good causes or community events. It could be as simple as making something for a school bake sale, raising money for an animal shelter, or taking time to help local veterans or disabled children. It is all about giving something back through knowledge and talent or financial assistance.
To Protect the Rights of Others
This one isn’t mandatory in that there is no criminal offense for not actively protecting others. But, there is still a sense of responsibility to watch out for those subjected to persecution or hate crimes. It includes those from other ethnic minorities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, etc. There are expressed freedoms in the Bill of Rights and citizens pledge to protect and uphold them.
The Responsibilities of Citizens Are Varied
Essentially, there are lots of different acts that we could interpret as responsibilities as citizens. Some are up to us on how we follow and interpret them, and others are mandatory and more clear-cut. It is best to stick to the easy answers of voting and jury duty for the test, but that doesn’t make the other examples less valid.
One of the most destructive anti-concepts in the history of moral philosophy is the term “duty”.
Remember the government is not the ruler, but the is the servant or agent for the “We the people”!