At the Niskanen Center, Brink Lindsey writes of the Prime Directive of democratic civic virtue.

And what is this Prime Directive? Let’s put in bold type: Treat all your fellow citizens, regardless of their political views, as your civic and political equals.


In this huge, sprawling nation, teeming with ethnic, religious, cultural, and ideological variety, there is one thing that binds all Americans together. And that is, we are all Americans, all citizens of the same republic, all bound by the same laws that all of us have at least some power to shape and to change. We share full and equal membership in one body politic, and we therefore owe all our fellow members the mutual respect that this common equal status entails. To be good citizens, we should treat all Americans, even those with whom we have political differences, as our civic and political equals. This obligation presses even more heavily on our elected leaders, who as public servants have a special responsibility to uphold democratic values.