A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Cabinet
Capital Gains Tax
Carbon Dioxide
Carbon Sequestration
Carpetbagger
Case
Case Law
Cases and Controversies Requirement
Caucus
Centrist
Chamber
Checks and Balances
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Cite
Citizen
Citizenship
City Administration
City Clerk
City Council
City Councilmember
City Manager
Civic Education
Civil Law
Civil Liberties
Civil Rights
Civil Society
Class Action
Classical Economics
Clerk of Courts
Climate Change
Cloakrooms
Closed Primary
Cloture
Coattails
Code
Code of Federal Regulations
Cold War
Colloquy
Commander in Chief
Commerce Clause
Committee
Common Good
Common Law
Commonwealth
Community
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Concurring Opinion
Conference Committee
Confirmation Hearing
Congress
Congressional Black Caucus
Congressional Budget Office
Congressional District
Congressional Record
Conscription
Conservative
Constituent
Constitution
Constitutionalism
Contempt of Court
Continuing Resolution
Controller
Coordinated Expenditure
Coroner
Cosponsor
County
County Board of Commissioners
County Executive Director
County Seat
Criminal Law
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Citizen
A citizen is a full and equal member of a political community, such as a country or nation-state. Such membership is a necessary condition for the establishment and maintenance of a democracy. The citizens are ‘‘the people’’ to whom a democratic government is accountable. In most countries, the status of a natural citizen is derived primarily or even exclusively from one’s parents; if the parents are citizens, then their children automatically become citizens. If one does not have a birthright to citizenship either through one’s parents or place of birth, there usually are legal procedures by which a person can become a naturalized citizen of a country. A country’s constitution and the laws based on it specify the means for obtaining the status of citizen. For example, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." In a democracy, all citizens, both natural and naturalized, are equal before the law and have the same fundamental rights, duties, and responsibilities. All citizens have a common civic identity based on their freely given consent to basic principles and values of their country’s constitutional democracy. In countries with great religious, racial, or ethnic diversity, a common civic identity among all citizens is the tie that binds them together under their constitutional and democratic government. A passport is evidence of a person’s status as a citizen of a particular nation. A citizen of one country usually needs a passport to enter and depart legally from another country.


By John Patrick, Understanding Democracy, A Hip Pocket Guide (Oxford University Press)