Q69: What is an example of civic participation in the United States? 

A. Voting
B. Running for office
C. Joining a political party or civic group
D. All of the above 

Q70: What is a way Americans can serve their country? 

A. Obey the law
B. Serve in the military
C. Work for local, state, or federal government
D. All of the above 

Question Background Information


The United States of America is sometimes described as a democracy, but unlike a direct democracy, in which voters directly voice opinions on issues and vote on policies, American citizens generally vote for representatives who then make decisions about governance. That is why America is more accurately described as a republic, a democratic republic, or a constitutional republic. 

There are many ways to participate in this government: one can obviously vote, but one can also help with a campaign, contact one’s representative or Senator to offer an opinion on an issue, or make one’s views known, such as by writing to a newspaper to publicly oppose or support an issue, policy, or candidate. 

One can also join a civic group. These can be focused on improving your community, or advancing your political goals, whether through a party or a group focused on a particular issue you care about.

Americans can also serve their country by obeying the law, working in local, state or federal government, or serving in the military. 

Additional Content

Offline Activity


Being a good citizen and serving one’s country involves formal activities, such as voting, serving in the military, or working for the government, but it also involves cultivating attitudes of good citizenship. This exercise uses the decision-making process to grapple with a dilemma about civic values in one’s private life.


Provide each group with a copy of:

  • Case Study: Free Speech in the Workplace   
  • Decision-Making Worksheet 
  • Decision-Making Process 

Required files


  1. This activity works well as an individual assignment. However, depending on the age and/or skill level of the students, you may want to have them work in larger groups. 
    • If that is the case, divide the class into pairs based on the students’ individual levels. Group A is the group that needs some extra support. Group B is the core group that has the core knowledge to complete the activity. Group C is the enrichment group that has mastered the material; Group C students are prepared to extend their knowledge. 
      • When using pairs, assign those who need support (Group A) with those who have core knowledge and/or have mastered the material (Groups B and C). 
      • Groups of three or more should have at least one student from each group. 
  2. Begin by asking the students what they know about the First Amendment, specifically freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  
  3. Next, explain to them that they will have to decide if they are going to set a company policy about speech in the workplace and will use the seven-step decision-making model to make their decision. 
  4. Provide each group with the appropriate materials.
    • Review the seven steps on the handout. If necessary, have the students practice going through the steps as a group before assigning them to work on their reading. 
    • It is likely that the students will need additional paper to conduct their brainstorming session. 
    • For older students, provide copies of the readings themselves and require them to use the documents to support their final decision.  
  5. Circulate throughout the room to help students as needed. 
  6. Once everyone is finished, lead a class discussion reviewing the process and how it affected their final decision and what their decisions were. 

Discussion Prompts

Below are two discussion prompts that can be used by teachers in a classroom setting. 

  • The first discussion prompt will be one that is designed to support students that are not really understanding the content in a way that would help them to answer the test question. 
  • The second discussion prompt will be one that is designed to further student understanding of the content by making real-world connections, including connections to current events and historical events.


Alexis de Tocqueville argued that civic participation and membership in political parties helped make democracies function, and that was true as he observed our republic almost two centuries ago.

Prompt 1

A republic does not run on its own. It is important for citizens to participate, and they can do this in a number of ways. What is one way that citizens can participate and why is this form of participation important?  

Prompt 2

Political parties are often criticized, and not without reason. Partisanship, as George Washington warned, can become an end in itself, no longer aiming to advance either the good of the country or even the ideas of the party.  But as Alexis de Tocqueville observed, they also can do much good. What are some ways that parties help a republic function? Use current or past events in your answer.