Renewing Rights & Responsibilities

What are the rights and responsibilities that define the relationship of people to the government, and to each other?

In contrast to nations rooted in the blood ties of their people, the United States is built on a belief that the relationship of citizens to their government and to each other should be defined by rights and responsibilities. In the Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln expressed a vision of the United States as “a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all [people] are created equal.”  Lincoln understood the promise and the challenge of human rights in the U.S.  

Human Rights, to Lincoln, promised to bind together a nation of diverse racial, ethnic, religious, cultural and political identities. Intolerance and injustice would challenge this promise. Meeting this challenge has required the constant renewal of rights to confront the legacy of slavery, the racism of the post-reconstruction era, the injustice of the Great Depression and the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century.  Today we again face the challenge.   

What are the rights and responsibilities that define the relationship of people to the government and to each other? The system of rights expressed by the U.S. Constitution, and later by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is facing severe threats today. The principle of free and fair elections is being subverted.  Racial, gender and religious discrimination, extremism and violence are being stimulated, condoned or ignored. Public discourse essential to democracy is being manipulated and degraded by new forms of digital communication, surveillance and personal data collection. Americans across the political spectrum are aware that their rights are under severe attack. This consensus creates a rare opportunity to reach people with different and competing conceptions of their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and to build support for reform and renewal of the entire system.

 

Explore the Project

Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the United States: Toward a More Equal Liberty

Americans today know they face threats to their rights, their democracy, their health and their economy. These threats are interrelated and demand a transformative response.

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National survey finds bipartisan support for expansive view of rights

At a time of deep partisan and demographic divides related to the 2020 election, 71% of Americans agree that they “have more in common with each other than many people think.”

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Here’s What Erick Erickson Gets Wrong About Dictators and Migration

Here’s What Erick Erickson Gets Wrong About Dictators and Migration

Abstract:

In a recent op-ed, conservative writer Erik Erickson argued that the U.S. government should support the “next Pinochets” to create more stability in Latin America and stop the flow of refugees seeking access to the United States.

The remark was instantly controversial because Augusto Pinochet was a Chilean dictator who committed massive human rights abuses.

Read the full article here.

: Kathryn Sikkink | Dec 4, 2019
: In a recent op-ed, conservative writer Erik Erickson argued that the U.S. government should support the “next Pinochets” to create more stability in Latin America
Last updated on 02/03/2020

Partners in Crime: An Empirical Evaluation of the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program

Citation:

Averell Schmidt and Kathryn Sikkink. 11/23/2018. “Partners in Crime: An Empirical Evaluation of the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program.” Perspectives on Politics, 16, 4, Pp. 1014-1033. See full text.
Partners in Crime: An Empirical Evaluation of the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program

Abstract:

Article on : Partners in Crime: An Empirical Evaluation of the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program

In the years following the attacks of 9/11, the CIA adopted a program involving the capture, extraordinary rendition, secret detention, and harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists in the war on terror. As the details of this program have become public, a heated debate has ensued, focusing narrowly on whether or not this program “worked” by disrupting terror plots and saving American lives. By embracing such a narrow view of the program’s efficacy, this debate has failed to take into account the broader consequences of the CIA program. We move beyond current debates by evaluating the impact of the CIA program on the human rights practices of other states. We show that collaboration in the CIA program is associated with a worsening in the human rights practices of authoritarian countries. This finding illustrates how states learn from and influence one another through covert security cooperation and the importance of democratic institutions in mitigating the adverse consequences of the CIA program. This finding also underscores why a broad perspective is critical when assessing the consequences of counterterrorism policies.

: Kathryn Sikkink et al. | Nov 23 2018
: Article on : Partners in Crime: An Empirical Evaluation of the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program
Last updated on 02/03/2020

The War on Voting Rights

Citation:

John Shattuck. 10/7/2018. “The War on Voting Rights.” The Boston Globe.
The War on Voting Rights

Abstract:

New op-ed by Carr Center Senior Fellow John Shattuck.

"Eight years ago, on the eve of the 2010 midterm elections, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell declared that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

McConnell’s declaration of war on the Obama presidency ushered in the age of extreme obstruction and polarization in Congress. It also foreshadowed an eight-year Republican campaign to suppress or dilute voting by the coalition that elected Obama. That effort has intensified in the Trump era and is targeted at groups with low or uneven voting participation rates, especially minorities, young people, and immigrants."

Read the full Op-Ed in the Boston Globe.

: John Shattuck | Oct 26, 2018
: Read John Shattuck's latest op-ed in The Boston Globe.
Last updated on 01/23/2020
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In contrast to nations rooted in the blood ties of their people, the U.S. is rooted in the belief that the relationship of citizens to their government and to each other is defined by a system of rights that expresses the core values of American democracy.

- John Shattuck