There are new findings out from the Civic Literacy Report, and they are not good. In fact, they are disturbing. This is a follow-up survey by one done to test civic knowledge of college students conducted over two years. The best result - the BEST result - was 54.2% on basic civics and self-governance. How do I say this? Oh, here it is - that's PATHETIC. So, the American Civic Literacy Organization decided to survey adults, and elected officials. Check out some of these findings based on 33 questions asked:
The results reveal that Americans are alarmingly uninformed about our Constitution, the basic functions of our government, the key texts of our national history, and economic principles.
* Less than half can name all three branches of the government.
* Only 21% know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
* Although Congress has voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars, only 53% know that the power to declare war belongs to Congress. Almost 40% incorrectly believe it belongs to the president.
* Only 55% know that Congress shares authority over U.S. foreign policy with the president. Almost a quarter incorrectly believe Congress shares this power with the United Nations.
* Only 27% know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.
* Less than one in five know that the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson. Almost half incorrectly believe it can be found in the Constitution.
Americans from all age groups, income brackets, and political ideologies fail the test of civic literacy.
* Americans age 25 to 34 score an average of 46% on the exam; Americans age 65 and over score 46%.
* Americans earning an annual income between $30,000 and $50,000 score an average of 46%; Americans earning over $100,000 score 55%.
* Liberals score an average of 49%; conservatives score 48%.
* Americans who go to church once a week score an average of 48%; Americans who never go to church score 50%.
I know - holy crap, right? This sure does explain a lot to me, though, about how/why certain people do not see glaring violations of the Constitution even when it is shoved in their faces. They just do not know.
Wanna guess who it is in part responsible for the "dumbing down of America"? Did you guess the television? Then you would be right:
In order to help isolate the impact a college degree has on civic literacy, ISI examined additional factors that might add to or subtract from an individual’s civic knowledge. The survey results were put through a regression analysis to determine whether various behaviors in a respondent’s life had a unique, statistically significant impact on his or her civic knowledge.
The multiple-regression analysis indicated that a person’s test score drops in proportion to the time he or she spends using certain types of passive electronic media. Talking on the phone, watching owned or rented movies, and even monitoring TV news broadcasts and documentaries diminishes a respondent’s civic literacy.
Actively seeking knowledge through print media and high-quality conversations has the opposite effect. Reading about history and current events in books, magazines, and newspapers—and talking about these subjects with family and friends—increases a respondent’s civic literacy.
In fact, an American who lacks a college degree but has initiative and desire—and who does not spend too much time watching TV and talking on the phone—can acquire more civic knowledge than a couch potato with a college degree.
So there's at least some hope if people can tear themselves away from CNN and MSNBC and pick up a newspaper and discuss it, they might actually learn something about this country.
Okay, as promised, wait, just WAIT until you see how our elected officials, those who swear to uphold the Constitution fared in basic civics. I'd put down that mug (or glass) if I were you:
The elected officeholders come from the ranks of Democrats (40%), Republicans (31%), Independents (21%), and those who say they belong to no party or indicate no affiliation (8%). None were asked to specify what office they held, so the proportion in which they held local, state, or federal positions is unknown.
Not all officeholders do poorly, of course. Some elected officials rank among the highest scorers. But the failure rate on the test among those who have won public office is higher (74%) than among those who have not (71%). Officeholders scored lower on all sub-themes of the test: political history, cultural institutions, foreign relations, and market economy.
In each of the following areas, for example, officeholders do more poorly than non-officeholders:
* Seventy-nine percent of those who have been elected to government office do not know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the U.S.
* Thirty percent do not know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence.
* Twenty-seven percent cannot name even one right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
* Forty-three percent do not know what the Electoral College does. One in five thinks it either “trains those aspiring for higher political office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates.”
* Fifty-four percent do not know the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. Thirty-nine percent think that power belongs to the president, and 10% think it belongs to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
* Only 32% can properly define the free enterprise system, and only 41% can identify business profit as “revenue minus expenses.”
On some questions, Americans who have held elected office do better than Americans who have not. They are a little more likely, for example, to recognize the language of the Gettysburg Address (23% to 21%) and to know that the question of whether slavery should be allowed to expand into new territories was the main issue in the Lincoln–Douglas debates (25% to 20%).
Officeholders and non-officeholders find it equally difficult to identify the three branches of government. Only 49% of each group can name the legislative, executive, and judicial.
Well, that sure explains a lot, doesn't it? No wonder we find ourselves screaming at the tv watching our lawmakers say the stupidest things that CLEARLY bear no relation to the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. But for ANYONE in this country - ANYONE - to not know we have three separate branches of government is - wow - staggering. How can any American NOT KNOW THAT???? Clearly, they did not see this enough while growing up:
So, will people be upset of Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't stay on in his current position? For less than half of the nation who don't even know the three branches of government, I'd say the percentage of people who wouldn't even know anything had changed would be at least A GAZILLION percent. Sad. Really, really sad. This is exactly how we end up with people like Obama as the President Elect. People know so little about the government in general, how in the WORLD can we expect them to understand something like caucus fraud?? Wow. Just freakin' wow. Go check out the site and see some of the other findings. I bet you'll be be blown away, too. And I bet Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave.