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Copy of What is Civics? And Why Does it Matter?

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Jennifer Wilkosz

on 6 September 2016

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Transcript of Copy of What is Civics? And Why Does it Matter?

What is Civics?

And Why Does it Matter?

What is Civics?
Civics is the study of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. It is also the study of government and how it works.
Why does it matter?
What are your civil rights? What are your civic duties?
How do we elect members of Congress? How do we elect the President? How are members of the Supreme Court chosen?
How are laws made or changed?
How exactly do you become a U.S. citizen?
What are the functions and purposes of our federal, state, and local governments?
What does the government do for me? What do I do for the government?

Studying civics is important because it tells you your place and role in the nation.
"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. "
-Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States
Citizenship
The main purpose of studying civics is to learn about citizenship.

A
citizen
is a native or naturalized member of a nation who owes their allegiance to its government and is entitled to certain rights and duties.
Flash Fact:
The concept of citizenship can be traced roughly 3,000 years back to Ancient Greece's city-states.
But being a citizen is more than just being born in the same country.

Citizens of a country usually share some sort of common history, customs, values, and cultures.
What are the different types of citizenship?
How to Become a Citizen
Most people become citizens of the United States simply by being born here.

Anyone born within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a U.S. military base automatically becomes a U.S. citizen.

It doesn't matter if your parents were American citizens or not - if you were born on American soil, you are American.
Anyone born to American citizens also automatically becomes an American citizen, even if they were born in another country.

This means some people enjoy

dual citizenship
- which means they are both American citizens and citizens of the other country they were born in.

However, there's still another way to become an American citizen.
Naturalization
Millions of foreign
aliens
live and work in the United States. Some come to study at our schools, others come for work, and others are simply visiting relatives.

While many choose to remain citizens of their home countries, others want to settle here in our country and become
naturalized citizens
.

This, of course, makes them
immigrants
- people who want to permanently move to a new country.
Those who want to become a U.S. citizens must first file a
Declaration of Intention
with the
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
saying that they wish to become American citizens.

Next, aliens must live in the U.S. for at least
5 years
. They only have to wait
3 years
if they are married to a U.S. citizen.

Aliens then take citizenship classes to prepare for citizenship. Once they have lived in a state for at least 3 months, they can file an application for citizenship.

Then interviews with the USCIS officials start to make sure the person is a good choice for naturalization. Following that is a formal exam that tests the alien's English skills and knowledge about about the history and government of the United States.

If they are approved and pass the exam, their final step in naturalization is attending a ceremony & pledging an oath of allegiance to the United States.
The Numbers of Naturalization
Immigrants make up about 14% of the population in the United States as of 2014 (42 million people).

47% of immigrants are naturalized citizens.

Mexico
has the highest rate of legal immigration to the United States, with roughly 176,000 persons per year becoming naturalized American citizens.
China
comes in second with about 51,000 naturalized citizens per year. Of the 55 million hispanic people in the United States, 19.4 million are immigrants.
Illegal Aliens
Due to the limits of legal immigration, some people attempt to enter and live in the U.S. illegally. Some were refused permission to immigrate, others never tried to apply for the immigration process.

The ways people illegally immigrate to the U.S. come in a variety of ways: some come as temporary visitors that don't leave. Others illegally cross the borders of Mexico or Canada. Some have stayed after their legal permissions have expired.

Most of these people come to the United States simply seeking a better life, though they often face many hardships and risk of
deportation
back to their home countries.

The
U.S. Border Patrol
is the law-enforcement agency responsible for detecting and preventing illegal entry into the United States.
Government
A government is the ruling authority for a community or nation. It is an organization that has the power to make and enforce laws & decisions for its members.

Governments serve an important role of keeping people and society safe, organized, and mostly peaceful.
Functions of Government
Governments serve many purposes and offer many benefits:

Keeping order and providing security.
Providing public services.
Guiding the community and society.
Keeping Order & Providing Security
People inevitably come into conflict with one another. Citizens may disagree on a ton of different matters.

As such, a government makes and enforces laws to try and settle conflicts that arise between people.

A government usually also creates security for protecting its citizens from criminals and enemies.
Providing Public Services
Governments can also coordinate and manage incredible tasks that can be used to help society as a whole. They develop systems for creating and maintaining schools, hospitals, parks, transit, and business.

Local governments also manage things like fire departments and ambulance services.

Governments can also help provide public aid for assisting the poor, ill, elderly, and disabled.
Guiding the Community
Another function of government is to form
public policy
- a course of government action to achieve societal goals. For example, when the government creates laws or agencies to increase national security, that would be an act of public policy.

Most public policy decisions involve some sort of financial planning since money has to be spent wisely. Thus, a government creates a
budget
, which is a plan for collecting and spending money.

Governments also handle diplomacy and foreign policy to foster relationships, positive or negative, with other governments. Things like international trade, travel, military pacts, or agreements are part of foreign policy and public policy.
Types of Governments
Governments come in many forms. Common types of governments include: oligarchy, monarchy, totalitarian, dictatorship, democracy, republic, theocracy, anarchy.

The United States is a federal constitutional republic.
Oligarchy
An oligarchy is basically government ruled by a small number of people.
Traditionally, oligarchies are usually run by a small group of wealthy, privileged, powerful families. Sometimes they are hereditary based, sometimes not. It can also be a government under military control.

The Soviet Union was an example of an oligarchy - since only members of the Communist Party were allowed to vote or hold office.
Flash fact:
Olígos is Greek for 'the few'.
Monarchy
A monarchy is a government ruled over by a single individual - usually a king or queen.

Absolute monarchies features a monarch with limitless or near limitless power.
Hereditary monarchies pass the power to rule along through inheritance within a family.
Elective monarchies feature a monarch who is chosen to rule.

Most monarchies today are constitutional monarchies - where a monarch's power is limited by a constitution. Great Britain is an example of a modern constitutional monarchy.
Totalitarian
A government that controls nearly all aspects of a person's public and private life.
A government without limits, it usually uses a state controlled media and single party system to maintain control via overbearing propaganda.
Nazi Germany is usually considered the prime example of a totalitarian government.
Dictatorship
Rule by an individual who has full power over the country.

Usually means a system where the dictator came to power and holds it purely by force. But it also includes systems where the dictator first came to power legitimately but then was able to amend the constitution so as to, in effect, gather all power for themselves.
Flash Fact:
A Roman dictator was given absolute power during times of emergency to help save Rome.
Democracy
A government were eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.

Direct Democracy
- Ever single citizen is involved in the decision making process.
Representative Democracy
- Citizens elect a representative that makes governmental decisions on their behalf.
Republic
A government in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them
.

In a republic
- the sovereignty is in each individual person.
In a democracy
- the sovereignty is in the group.
Theocracy
A form of government in which a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler
, the deity's laws being interpreted by the religious authorities.

Vatican City is a theocracy with the Pope being the head-of-state.
Anarchy
Anarchy is a political philosophy that considers government to be largely undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful
. Supports the ideals of full social and political liberty.
Full transcript