Lee Hamilton On Civic Duty
Lee H. Hamilton is president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and director of The Center on Congress at Indiana University. Hamilton represented Indiana’s 9th congressional district for 34 years beginning January 1965. He served as chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, the Joint Economic Committee, and the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. As a member of the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee Hamilton was a primary draftsman of several House ethics reforms.
Since leaving the House, Hamilton has served on several commissions including serving as Vice-Chair of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, the National Commission on the War Powers of the President and the Congress, and the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. He is currently a member of the FBI Director’s Advisory Board, the Defense Secretary’s National Security Study Group, and the US Department of Homeland Security Task Force on Preventing the Entry of Weapons of Mass Effect on American Soil.
The American people can’t dodge responsibility here – not in a government that’s informed by the people. I think that being a citizen in America is a very tough job. It requires you to make discriminating judgments. You’re sitting there, you’re trying to raise your family. You’re trying to earn a living. A lot of competitive pressures. And being a citizen is not easy because there are so many other things that press upon you – making discriminating judgments. Keep in mind that politicians reflect the views of the people they represent. So the American people have a responsibility here obviously to participate; but not just a matter of voting. It’s a matter of participating in improving their communities, and their neighborhoods, their states and their nation. And they have to take that citizenship seriously. It isn’t written in the stars somewhere that America will always endure, will always prosper. It takes each generation to make that come true, and we have to accept our responsibilities in order for it . . . It’s not carved in granite somewhere that America is always going to be strong, and free, and prosperous, and number one in the world. It has to be achieved in every generation.
Recorded on: 7/5/07
Lee Hamilton on the responsibilities of American citizenship.
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