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The Perils of Passive Citizenship
Washington, D.C., August 11, 1924
Robert LaFollete

America is not made.  It's in the making.  It has today to meet an impending crisis as menacing as any in the nation's history.  It does not sound a call to arms, but it is nonetheless a call to patriotism and to higher ideals in citizenship--a call for the preservation of the representative character of the government itself.
If we would preserve the spirit as well as the form of our free institutions, the patriotic citizenship of the country must take its stand and demand of wealth that it shall conduct its business lawfully.  That it shall no longer furnish the most flagrant examples of persistent violation of statutes while invoking the protection of the courts.  That it shall not destroy the equality of opportunity, nor the right to the pursuit of happiness guaranteed by the constitution.  That it shall keep its powerful hands off from legislative manipulation, that it shall not corrupt but shall obey the government that guards and protects its rights.

It is a glorious service, this service for the country.

Mere passive citizenship is not enough.  Men must be aggressive for what is right if government is to be saved from those who are aggressive for what is wrong.  The nation has awakened somewhat slowly to a realization of its peril, but it has responded with gathering momentum.  The Progressive movement now has the support of all the moral forces that the solution of a great problem can command.  The outlook is hopeful.  There is no room for pessimism.

Mere passive citizenship is not enough.

Every man should have faith.  Advance ground has been secured which will never be surrendered by the American people.  There's work for everyone.  The field is large.  It is a glorious service, this service for the country.  The call comes to every citizen.  It is an unending struggle to make and keep government representative.  Each one should pocket a patriotic duty to build at least a part of his life into the life of his country, to do his share in the making of America according to the plan of the fathers.