The Office of Citizenship

Obama at a rally in October, 2008

Tonight I watched President Obama make his last speech before becoming Barack Obama. Like so many of his other speeches, it stirred deep emotions within me and re-ignited that desire to act that his rhetoric so often elicits. I was struck tonight by his candor and his charisma, his steadfast commitment to “we” and not “I”, his insistence on the strength of America’s values, and his unremitting belief in the goodness of its people. Tonight he officially assumed the role of elder statesmen.

But of all his messages in this final address, this line stood out above the rest:

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.

…we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.

I love the idea of citizenship as an office that we as participants of democracy hold. In framing it as such, it demands that we take responsibility for our country — to be informed about policy, to be responsible with our vote, to hold those we elect responsible and accountable, and to participate when we see an opportunity to affect change.

It’s no secret to those who know me that I am no fan of Mr. Trump. But if my response to his Presidency is to wait until 2018 or 2020, then I have failed the Office of Citizenship.

To do something, no matter how small, is better than nothing.

Thank you for your service, Mr. President. See you in the Office of Citizens.