Section 1: Rights and Responsibilities of All Citizens

These students are showing responsibility

Figure 39. These students are showing responsibility by planting a tree. Trees are important for the common good of our communities and environment. (City of Ottawa, Ohio)

Rights, or freedoms, of the people are listed both in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States and in the Declaration of Rights of the Constitution of North Dakota. The major purpose of the government is to protect these rights.

In order to preserve the rights of the people, all citizens need to work together with the government and with each other for the common good. The power of the government comes from the people, so the only way that the government can do its job is if the people participate.

Citizens over the age of 18 have certain responsibilities; however, responsibilities of good citizenship apply not only to adults, but to young people as well. Working for the common good should be a major goal of every citizen, regardless of his or her age.

Some responsibilities are mandatory. It is mandatory that everyone in the United States obeys federal, state, and local laws. This is necessary in order to protect one’s rights and the rights of other people.

Paying taxes is mandatory. Federal, state, and local governments require payment of certain taxes. For example, when a person buys something in a North Dakota store, a sales tax is charged. People who work at jobs pay both federal and state taxes on their income. This is called an income tax. Income refers to money earned working at a job. Tax money is used by the government to provide services for the people.

Citizens over the age of 18 have both the right and the responsibility to vote in elections. By voting, people help decide who will represent them in the government. Responsible voters become well informed about the candidates and issues on the ballot before they go to the polls to vote.