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Constitution Day

September 17, 2010

“On this day 223 years ago, the signers of the U.S. Constitution changed the course of history,” write Harry Boyte and Patrick Corvington in an editorial in today’s Pioneer Press. The Constitution, they continue, defined the conditions for a bold experiment in democracy: government as an instrument for accomplishing shared purposes, and citizens who see themselves as co-creators of a shared civic life.

Most would agree that this vision of democracy takes continual work. It’s not an ideal we can strive for and then, once achieved, celebrate with relief and self-congratulation.

But the Corporation for National and Community Service, headed by Corvington, and the National Conference on Citizenship have developed measures that tell us something about the health of our democracy. Their new federal report, Civic Life in America: Key Findings on the Civic Health of the Nation shows that Americans remain deeply committed to the principles of citizenship in ways big and small, formal and informal.

The National Conference on Citizenship is also working with partners in 13 states and 4 cities to produce local civic health reports this fall.

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