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Americans talk a lot about the importance of good citizenship. But what does it mean to be a good citizen? By many measures, we may be falling short. American voter turnout is low compared to other nations, and in online discussion we’re quick to attack others who disagree with our point of view. How have Americans defined and lived citizenship, past and present? Are we really less civil now than we were in previous eras? The Washington Post “Civilities” columnist Steven Petrow, Texas A&M University historian of American political rhetoric Jennifer Mercieca, Western Washington University historian of civil society and author of Creating a Nation of Joiners Johann N. Neem, and former Oklahoma Congressman Mickey Edwards discuss whether it’s possible—and if, so, how—to raise American standards of citizenship.

Moderated by Nancy Barnes, Editor and Executive Vice President for News, Houston Chronicle

A Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It Means to Be American” Event.