What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

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Houston | Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Do We Still Know How to Be Good Citizens?

I Will Do My Best, Norman Rockwell, 1945. Courtesy of the National Scouting Museum, Boy Scouts of America. Copyright Brown & Bigelow.

I Will Do My Best, Norman Rockwell, 1945. Courtesy of the National Scouting Museum, Boy Scouts of America. Copyright Brown & Bigelow.

Moderated by Nancy Barnes, Editor and Executive Vice President for News, Houston Chronicle

Americans talk a lot about the importance of good citizenship. But what does it mean to be a good citizen? By many measures, we may be falling short. American voter turnout is low compared to other nations, and in online discussion we’re quick to attack others who disagree with our point of view. How have Americans defined and lived citizenship, past and present? Are we really less civil now than we were in previous eras? The Washington Post “Civilities” columnist Steven Petrow, Texas A&M University historian of American political rhetoric Jennifer Mercieca, Western Washington University historian of civil society and author of Creating a Nation of Joiners Johann N. Neem, and former Oklahoma Congressman Mickey Edwards discuss whether it’s possible—and if, so, how—to raise American standards of citizenship.

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Flanked by the busts of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, students at Seattle's Bailey-Gatzert School sing "America" on November 24, 1941. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

Washington , DC | November 14, 2017

Has America Ever Been Good at Teaching Civics?

The United States demands much of its citizens—to understand enough of the history and structure of American government so that they can understand difficult issues, discuss …