I promised myself that I wouldn’t do it, but I did. I made a pact with me, all in the name of preserving my somewhat stable mental health, that I would NEVER again look at the results of the average American taking the citizenship test. I failed, not because I am some kind of masochist, but because I am an eternal optimist when it comes to my fellow man…and woman.
Newsweek conducted a poll of 1,000 citizens of the United States, yes, REAL citizens, and asked them to take a mock citizenship test. Now, the REAL citizenship test is much more involved, but this was a good attempt to give the participants an idea of what REAL Americans should know about our history and our government. After looking at some of the answers, I am more convinced than ever that we live in an idiocracy!
Ok, because I am a glutton for punishment, let’s go over some of the answers. A whopping 73% couldn’t answer correctly why we fought the cold war. The answer is Communism, and it seems somewhat ludicrous in light of our now pandering relationship with China. I would like to know, though, if anyone answered “global warming” to the “why we fought the cold war” question.
When was the Declaration of Independence adopted? Well, 33% of those polled didn’t know it was July 4, 1776, but more disturbing, 6% of a thousand US citizens couldn’t circle Independence Day on a calendar…though they did enjoy the movie.
Sadly, 81% could not name a power of the Federal government. Though I can see where some of my brothers and sisters would answer, “x-ray vision into our personal lives”, that is not a super power of the Fed. There are several answers, print money, make treaties, declare war, etc. I’m not too surprised the majority of people missed that whole declare war thing…seems like we are always zoning off to war without declaring much of anything.
Seventy (70) percent of REAL Americans don’t know the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. And not surprising, 63% have no idea how many Supreme Court justices are on the bench interpreting it. That’s a Citizens United decision of a more frightening sort.
On a positive note, however, because as I said, I am an optimist of my fellow American, 71% of the people do know that Joe Biden is our Vice President. One can only surmise that he could have reached the 90th percentile mark had he shot one of his friends in the face.
I can think of a couple of reasons why Europeans and other world countries continue to kick our collective asses on history and government tests such as this. One, Schoolhouse Rock is no longer a Saturday morning viewing staple between mind-numbing adolescent programming, and two, I will suggest, is the overwhelming have/have not disparity in the American school system that is not seen in most other industrialized nations. A state budget balanced on the backs of our nation’s children is not the answer to closing this learning chasm. As a science professional, I would like to impress upon our politicians that there is a whole other decidedly deciduous forest out there…if they will only look farther then their own privileged family trees.
Yes, I am a Left-leaner, a Liberal, a socialist, a pinko commie (though most Americans don’t know what that is), or possibly a Progressive…you apply the moniker, I don’t care. What I do care about is this land that I love, our hesitance to have an honest discussion about funding our future, and the path we are Jay-walking down as a nation.