America the ignorant

posted at 2:31 pm on September 7, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin has another great report which follows a recent speech by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’connor. In it, Her Honor laments the general ignorance of Americans when it comes to critical matters of how their own nation works, and wonders how we’re supposed to govern ourselves out of our problems if we don’t even know the rules of the game we’re playing.

Two-thirds of Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told the crowd that packed into a Boise State ballroom to hear her Thursday.

About one-third can name the three branches of government. Fewer than one-fifth of high school seniors can explain how citizen participation benefits democracy.

“Less than one-third of eighth-graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and it’s right there in the name,” she said.

O’Connor touted civics education during her keynote address at the “Transforming America: Women and Leadership in the 21st Century” conference, put on by the Andrus Center for Public Policy. She also described being a female lawyer in the 1950s, and challenged her listeners to help the next generation of leaders reach their goals….

“The more I read and the more I listen, the more apparent it is that our society suffers from an alarming degree of public ignorance,” O’Connor said.

I’m not sure which of the many historical surveys O’Connor was relying on for her numbers, but they certainly sound about right. One of the frequently depressing things you encounter when writing about politics and government, or talking to the sorts of people who read about it on a daily basis, is the false impression you form that everyone knows this stuff. Those of you who read Hot Air or any of the other many political sites each day also watch the news and debate issues of the day with each other. You’re forced to collect information to defend your views and are exposed to the ideas of others with different opinions. But I’m sorry to report that you are in a shockingly tiny minority.

Earlier this year, Richard Winchester, writing at The American Thinker, noted some very recent studies which should trouble you.

It doesn’t take much effort to describe the typical citizen’s political ignorance. The Pew Research Center for The People & The Press, for example, has plumbed random samples of the public’s public affairs knowledge about twice a year since 2007. The questions have varied in substance and format, but the results have been uniformly dismal. The average correct score is usually just above 50% which, if judged by the usual academic standard –90+% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, <60% = F — would be F.

Since people who cannot be contacted or refuse to take part in polls are more politically ignorant than those who do, these are generous estimates of the public’s political knowledge. It’s estimated that 25% to 33% or more of the adult populace is “missing in action” when poll results are reported. Were these people’s ignorance added to poll results, pollsters tell us that the public’s grade would be F-.

The questions being asked in some of these polls were not rocket surgery. In one of them, more than 60% of respondents did not know how many justices were on the Supreme Court. Roughly 30% didn’t know who the Vice President was, and that’s a problem no matter what you think of Joe Biden. But how do we address that, if it’s even possible? Should we be pushing for more civics instruction in the public education system? That might be nice, but how to square it with the need for students to concentrate more in math, science and engineering disciplines needed to compete in the modern job market? You can’t cover everything.

More from Somin:

That is not to suggest that we should simply give up on efforts to increase political knowledge. It may be possible to increase it at the margin by improving education, or by other means. But we should combine such reforms with efforts to shrink and decentralize government, so that we can make more of our decisions by “voting with our feet,” and fewer at the ballot box. Foot voters have stronger incentives to acquire relevant information and evaluate it rationally than ballot box voters do.

Uninformed people are not somebody else’s problem and the issues they cause are not only visited upon their own house. Uninformed people frequently show up to vote. They pick up the phone and give answers to pollsters which politicians then react to. Heck, they even drive cars. And as near as I can tell, it’s a problem which is completely out of reach of any solution.


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Cause if you are…….

Bmore on September 7, 2013 at 5:51 PM

45 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), the end run of Arne Duncan and the Obama administration on shifting the U.S. to a nationalized curriculum.

I have yet to see an accurate assessment of it posted on the main page. Don’t grip about the ignorance of Americans when there has been little written here on the reality of what is going on in education. I made a string of comments to that effect and gave some background on Common Core here:

http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2013/09/05/the-most-important-public-education-issue-no-one-talks-about/

INC on September 7, 2013 at 5:54 PM

There’s going to be an important one-day conference on Common Core sponsored by American Principles Project, Heartland Institute, and the Pioneer Institute at Notre Dame on Monday.

The Changing Role of Education in America: Consequences of the Common Core

If you’ve read anything I’ve posted on Common Core, you’ll recognize the names of some of those who will be speaking. I’ve quoted and linked to Stotsky numerous times as one of the members of the VC who refused to sign off on Common Core. From the text of Stotsky’s upcoming remarks on Monday:

Notre Dame Conference Address of Dr. Sandra Stotsky: Common Core’s Invalid Validation Committee

On the development of the English language arts [ELA] of Common Core:

For many months after the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was launched in early 2009, the identities of the people drafting the “college- and career-readiness standards” were unknown to the public. CCSSI eventually (in July) revealed the names of the 24 members of the “Standards Development Work Group” (designated as developing these standards) in response to complaints from parent groups and others about the lack of transparency.

What did this Work Group look like? Focusing only on ELA, the make-up of the Work Group was quite astonishing: It included no English professors or high-school English teachers. How could legitimate ELA standards be created without the very two groups of educators who know the most about what students should and could be learning in secondary English classes? CCSSI also released the names of individuals in a larger “Feedback Group.” This group included one English professor and one high-school English teacher. But it was made clear that these people would have only an advisory role – final decisions would be made by the English-teacher-bereft Work Group.

The Validation Committee was essentially a rubber stamp.

Tellingly, the VC contained almost no experts on ELA standards; most were education professors and representatives of testing companies, from here and abroad. There was only one mathematician on the VC—R. James Milgram (there were several mathematics educators—people with doctorates in mathematics education and, in most cases, appointments in an education school). I [Stotsky] was the only nationally acknowledged expert on English language arts standards by virtue of my work in Massachusetts and for Achieve, Inc.’s American Diploma Project high school exit standards for ELA and subsequent backmapped standards for earlier grade levels.

Milgram also refused to sign off on CC, and he will also be at the conference on Monday.

The full text to Stotsky’s address is at the link. http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com is an excellent resource on CC.

INC on September 7, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Another thing I’ve noticed is the woeful ignoring of the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense by the writers here. The authors are no intellectual lightweights, yet their cogent arguments and insights were ignored.

As far as I know the definitions and issues presented in that book were never discussed in main page posts. I don’t recall any links to any of the many online articles written by the three authors, Ryan Anderson, Sherif Girgis and Robert George. Ryan Anderson especially, who is a fellow at Heritage, was and still is churning out articles and speaking on marriage.

There’s a reason why ‘ignore’ and ‘ignorant’ have the same etymology.

INC on September 7, 2013 at 6:07 PM

I know all that stuff… and I’m Canadian.

Johnny 100 Pesos on September 7, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Because much of the world knows what’s going on in much of the world.
It’s only in the USA where we pride ourselves on focusing only in the USA.

Is there any nation on Earth that knows less about what happens on Earth than the USA?
Well…Eritrea, maybe.

OK, throw in Bangladesh for fun.

itsnotaboutme on September 7, 2013 at 6:13 PM

IF IT WASN`T FOR THE IGNORANT WHO WOULD VOTE DEMOCRAT ?

Rook on September 7, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Bayam, what percent of your total external/non-corporal energy consumption… is met by solar power?

rogerb on October 6, 2011 at 7:54 PM

I have no idea, but why does that matter? What does the present have to do with the future?

bayam on October 7, 2011 at 12:44 AM

rogerb on September 7, 2013 at 2:46 PM

I have no dog in this fight, but….dayum, bayam! I’m glad you’re not using the utilities that I have to pay.
Or, being a bookkeeper making up my monthly budget for me.

avagreen on September 7, 2013 at 6:23 PM

IF IT WASN`T FOR THE IGNORANT WHO WOULD VOTE DEMOCRAT ?

Rook on September 7, 2013 at 6:15 PM

The illegals?

dogsoldier on September 7, 2013 at 6:23 PM

The questions being asked in some of these polls were not rocket surgery.

Jazz Shaw on September 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm

That made my (political news reading) day. Thanks, Jazz!

I, for one, am all for voter I.D. cards which require passing a civics test once every 10 years.

12thman on September 7, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Sure, people can get guns illegally, but why make buying a semi-automatic pistol as easy as buying a quart of milk?

chumpThreads on January 10, 2011 at 2:25 PM

‘cuz I live in a neighborhood where at least weekly, I see at least one sidewalk user proudly fly the blue flag of the Crips out their left hip pocket, or driving by with their blue doo rags on?

avagreen on September 7, 2013 at 6:31 PM

edjewbacation is fer socal justize and stopin white prevailidge

BL@KBIRD on September 7, 2013 at 6:32 PM

These people not only show up to vote, but they base their votes on what a Canadian drummer boy who pees in buckets says on his Twitter page and how a candidate smiles when asked whats on his Ipod during his toughest interview……with Entertainment Tonight.

KMav on September 7, 2013 at 7:02 PM

But how do we address that, if it’s even possible? Should we be pushing for more civics instruction in the public education system? That might be nice, but how to square it with the need for students to concentrate more in math, science and engineering disciplines needed to compete in the modern job market? You can’t cover everything.

Jazz, I have to disagree with you here. Kids can easily spend an hour a day on literacy, an hour on math and an hour on civics and history and still have 3 1/2 hours left for other topics. It’s a matter of cutiing out the nonsense, feel good, time wasting stuff and actually focusing objectively on the basics. Add to that an expectation that the students will actually acquire a working knowledge of the topics instead of the dumbing down that now occurs in public schools and it really isn’t “rocket surgery.” :)

hopeful on September 7, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Cleombrotus on September 7, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Thank you for that. Outstanding!

mickytx on September 7, 2013 at 7:39 PM

A couple years ago there was a big scandal in local city politics. The city council were basically a criminal enterprise and were looting the treasury. One night on the news, a guy from Egypt who just became a citizen, was out protesting and gave a mini lecture on American civics to the news reporter. He was so proud and so knowledgeable. It was awesome.

We should all learn what the immigrants are taught. Knock out sex ed and there’s time in school.

PattyJ on September 7, 2013 at 8:04 PM

The sad fact is that even in math class these days all you learn about is MLK Jr. and no, that’s not an exaggeration.

antisense on September 7, 2013 at 8:04 PM

It is one thing to rule the uninformed. It is the informed that governments fears.

“The kids in school are no longer taught the truth of our nation and the formation of our government. The pictured is distorted and many points are ignored, many points are lied about.  We need to get the parents involved but that won’t happen.  Most of them have been brain washed to think the way their kids are being taught.  The problem with this is, our history is lost.”

jpcpt03 on September 7, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Two things.

1. O’Conner isn’t that smart if she thinks we live in a democracy. We don’t. Our representatives are in a democracy.

2. I would think during her career she made a few judicial decisions that pushed certain agendas forward which in turn created the mess she has somehow just discovered.

That would be a class in of itself. How judges screw up nations.

archer52 on September 7, 2013 at 8:56 PM

It seems the K1-12 education is focused more on pointing the students to assumed perceived careers instead of learning how to learn, math, reading, history and civics. And when there is civics taught it’s more propaganda than real civics teaching. Get rid of the NEA (and CC) and the education level will rise.

TfromV on September 7, 2013 at 9:23 PM

What’s obviously important for NEA edjumication is having the kindergartners stare blankly at the “instructor” during the sex ed classes when they’re not on administrative leave paid vacation for other offenses like boinking students.

viking01 on September 7, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Thank you for a most depressing article after a very depressing workday. Ugh.

I know so many people at work who say crap like “politics bores me”, “the news bores me” (these are the same people who listen to country music/classic rock stations, the same garbage over and over again, full blast day in and day out).

What are people like us to do? You can’t educate the great unwashed and make them pay attention. They only seem to pay attention when their wallets/pocketbooks are being raped, or someone they know gets blown up.

I despair for what is going to happen to this country since idiots like these are the majority.

sage0925 on September 7, 2013 at 9:41 PM

I’ve been saying for years that too many people in America are just plain stupid, and should not be allowed to vote for President, or any other political office without first passing a test that proves they even have a clue…

stacman on September 7, 2013 at 11:08 PM

 Should we be pushing for more civics instruction in the public education system? That might be nice, but how to square it with the need for students to concentrate more in math, science and engineering disciplines needed to compete in the modern job market? You can’t cover everything.

that’s a cop out. Competing in the job market requires critical thinking. If you know what you need to solve, you can find the necessary solution. That means one needs to be grounded in the fundamentals. Once you have that, the rest is “easy”. I’ve seen many a book smart person with good grades fail miserably when faced with unique problems because if it ain’t in the book they can’t solve it.

That goes especially for the sciences. All of the engineers that helped put a man on the moon also knew their civics, history and even some Latin and/or music because in their curriculum, time was set aside to learn and even appreciate it. Now it’s all about affirmation and diversity in everything but the core.

AH_C on September 8, 2013 at 2:44 AM

At least we ignorant voters Sandra (and she’s right about that) aren’t stupid enough to believe that our constitution is to be subservient to your beloved European law!

Don L on September 8, 2013 at 5:24 AM

hopeful on September 7, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Do you really want the unionized socialist teachers of America training kids about voting? Isn’t that Obama’s old job? Community organizing for the left?

Don L on September 8, 2013 at 5:27 AM

Another thing I’ve noticed is the woeful ignoring of the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense by the writers here. The authors are no intellectual lightweights, yet their cogent arguments and insights were ignored.
As far as I know the definitions and issues presented in that book were never discussed in main page posts. I don’t recall any links to any of the many online articles written by the three authors, Ryan Anderson, Sherif Girgis and Robert George. Ryan Anderson especially, who is a fellow at Heritage, was and still is churning out articles and speaking on marriage.
There’s a reason why ‘ignore’ and ‘ignorant’ have the same etymology.
INC on September 7, 2013 at 6:07 PM

I agree completely.

bluegill on September 8, 2013 at 9:26 AM

You can’t cover everything.

Jazz, I have to disagree with you here. Kids can easily spend an hour a day on literacy, an hour on math and an hour on civics and history and still have 3 1/2 hours left for other topics.

hopeful on September 7, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Come on. Kids spend about 30 minutes to an hour learning something useful every day at government school. Max.

besser tot als rot on September 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Perhaps even more troubling to me is the lack of economic knowledge in the general population. They have no knowledge of how much the government takes, how huge the deficit is, what that portends for the future, how little, if any, they contribute towards public spending on a lifetime basis, – never mind what quantitative easing is and how that will damage the US in the future. Moreover, they show no understanding that the socialist policies they espouse were tried for decades in the USSR and other countries – and failed every single time.

Given a choice between knowledge of how the government works and how the economy works, I would prefer we teach economics first.

Over50 on September 8, 2013 at 10:43 AM

No Child Left Behind America……This is what you get when you force an entire generation of students to be taught “to the test” instead of being taught how to read and think. This is what happens when you have one political party whose entire message is to hate intellectualism and intellectual curiosity and to think purely in terms of profit. For all the dislike of a college education around these parts, college educated folks who go to liberal arts focused schools, with an emphasis on the humanities, do spectacular on these types of quizzes. If this is a metric of U.S. intelligence, than our divestment from higher education and critical thinking in education has really sunk this country.

libfreeordie on September 8, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Lay the blame at the feet of that drunkard adulterer murderer libfree. The lion of the senate, olde fathead himself, Ted Kennedy.

Murphy9 on September 8, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Two-thirds of Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told the crowd that packed into a Boise State ballroom to hear her Thursday.

Clarence Thomas, made a joke about a pubic hair on a coke
Alito, baseball fan
Roberts, thinks ObamaCare is a tax
Scalia, gregarious, gentleman Italian
Kennedy, swing vote
Bader, ACLU lawyer
Sotomayer, “wise Latina”
Breyer, tall, skinny
Elena Kagan, she might have been Clinton’s solicitor general (?)

Do I win?

Then there are people who know how government works, but are crazy. Recently I talked to an old friend who was a lawyer. She said she doesn’t believe there should be national borders. People should be able to come and go as they please.

Paul-Cincy on September 8, 2013 at 11:06 AM

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)[1][2] is a United States Act of Congress that is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

reauthor-what? What is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act?

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed as a part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and has been the most far-reaching federal legislation affecting education ever passed by Congress.

Oh yeah, another fking progressive democrat failure that has destroyed families.

LMFAO libfree you really are stupid.

Murphy9 on September 8, 2013 at 11:13 AM

It’s hard to think when you’ve got your hand out.

TimBuk3 on September 8, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Uninformed people are not somebody else’s problem and the issues they cause are not only visited upon their own house. Uninformed people frequently show up to vote. They pick up the phone and give answers to pollsters which politicians then react to. Heck, they even drive cars. And as near as I can tell, it’s a problem which is completely out of reach of any solution.

Today we live in the 21st. Century where anyone can get educated on almost any issue thanks to the internet and the public libraries, yet most do not avail themselves of these marvelous tools, or at least do not use them as they should be used. Conclusion: Ignorance is produced by sloth.

I remain shocked today by the large number of the happily ignorant who supported Willard last year here in Hot Air. They claimed how conservative he was, how he would easily defeat the 0bama regime, and that they did not need to get involved. *Facepalm*

This year I see the GOPe is again working to fight against the informed TEA Party in Michigan because they know none are too happy with the way they ran the disastrous elections last year. They’ve invited Karl Rove to their Mackinaw Conference [which they are still begging people to attend], their attacks against grass roots efforts have reignited due to complaints of how GOPe representatives have gone into hiding, and mostly because more people than ever have gotten involved in an off election year.

So once again I’m going to ask, if not YOU, who will work to get decent politicians elected? If not you, who will fight for your rights guaranteed under the Constitution? If not you, who will fight to keep the US Constitution safe from the people working to make it a useless rag in DC today?

Don’t ask or demand what your country would or should be doing for you today. Instead, ask yourself, what should you be doing for your country. Even a Democrat got that right.

Never forget: It takes conservative actions and ideals to repair the damage created by liberal ones. There is no middle ground left to be had thanks to the Democrat Party.

DannoJyd on September 8, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Sure, let’s encourage, and fund of course, the current school-teacher-leftist-activists to teach our kids more civics. Maybe the problem is that they have been doing that for the last 40 years.

GaltBlvnAtty on September 8, 2013 at 12:52 PM

You say this like this is something politicians want to correct.

This is a feature, not a defect.

njrob on September 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Guess I should’ve tried the chartreuse split-tail.
 
Oh well. I guess they’re all on the “China sending warship to Syrian coast” thread.

rogerb on September 8, 2013 at 2:04 PM

But is O’Connor sincere in her lament? She wrote the majority opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey which affirmed Roe. In her opinion she announced the the abortion controversy was now settled and in effect told every body to just shut up. A philosopher queen who rules the people would want a stupid public who would follow her orders.

Rumpole of the Bailey on September 8, 2013 at 2:08 PM

A woman came up to me and said
“I’d like to poison your mind
With wrong ideas that appeal to you
Though I am not unkind”
She looked at me, I looked at something
Written across her scalp
And these are the words that it faintly said
As I tried to call for help:

There’s only one thing that I know how to do well
And I’ve often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that’s be you,
Be what you’re like,
Be like yourself,
And so I’m having a wonderful time
But I’d rather be whistling in the dark
Whistling in the dark

Whistling in the dark
There’s only one thing that I like
And that is whistling in the dark

A man came up to me and said
“I’d like to change your mind
By hitting it with a rock,” he said,
“Though I am not unkind.”
We laughed at his little joke
And then I happily walked away
And hit my head on the wall of the jail
Where the two of us live today.

There’s only one thing that I know how to do well
And I’ve often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that’s be you,
Be what you’re like,
Be like yourself,
And so I’m having a wonderful time
But I’d rather be whistling in the dark
Whistling in the dark

Whistling in the dark
There’s only one thing that I like
And that is whistling in the dark

There’s only one thing that I know how to do well
And I’ve often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that’s be you,
Be what you’re like,
Be like yourself,
And so I’m having a wonderful time
But I’d rather be whistling in the dark…

-TMBG

Count to 10 on September 8, 2013 at 3:28 PM

INC on September 7, 2013 at 5:54 PM

So, a uniform national sequence of tests in reading and math, as well as a central database of scores to data-mine would do a lot to advance education. Done correctly, it would give you a clear cut definition of what a student should know at each grade level, and a way of judging schools and practices in general. However, these advances would probably not do as much good as simply turning all education funding into vouchers.
I could be wrong, but it seems like most of the objections come from the idea of forcing all schools to indoctrinate students in to leftist thinking with a uniform curriculum. Frankly, there is a fair amount of evidence that kind of thing could happen if there is national committee is able to set a social studies or even literature curriculum that leaves no room for deviation.

Count to 10 on September 8, 2013 at 3:51 PM

This is the ignorance the Democrats count on and that won Obama his second term. I’m sure more Americans can tell you how to get an Obamaphone than say anything about the Declaration of Independence. As John Derbyshire says
We Are Doomed

Chessplayer on September 8, 2013 at 4:52 PM

~Lanaguage Martinet

The Monster on September 7, 2013 at 5:51 PM

And John F Kennedy couldn’t quite grasp Cuba. It’s only four letters long, but he pronounced it “Cuber”.

RJL on September 8, 2013 at 6:08 PM

“About one-third can name the three branches of government.”

This is appalling, but even more so is the fact that this statistic includes at least one US Senator (Schumer)among the 2/3s whom cannot.

Russ in OR on September 8, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Keep Obama in President, you know?
He gave us a phone!
He gonna do more!

Galtian on September 9, 2013 at 8:02 AM

The sad fact is that even in math class these days all you learn about is MLK Jr. and no, that’s not an exaggeration.

antisense on September 7, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Not true. My daughter learned in hers that buildings are tall and thin like a penis because men design them that way to intimidate and keep women in their place. At least that teacher was removed after many complaints involving not sticking to the subject matter.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 9, 2013 at 8:42 AM

IF IT WASN`T FOR THE IGNORANT WHO WOULD VOTE DEMOCRAT ?

Rook on September 7, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Why, lots of people: Dead people, Mickey Mouse, etc.

Sterling Holobyte on September 9, 2013 at 9:12 AM

I have been arguing for a few years now that the experiment in universal suffrage has run its course and the results are not good.

For a democracy to succeed indefinitely, its voters must have some basic level of intelligence, education, knowledge of issues and in contrasts must not have certain kinds of conflicts-of-interest when voting.

Voting should have requirements. There should be a basic intelligence test and a basic knowledge test to be allowed to vote (taken every 2 years or so). There should also be bans on anyone being able to vote who has been on any kind of gov’t entitlement for six of the last 18 months prior to any election (there could be some exceptions – certain veterans, certain people with significant physical disabilities). There should also be bans on anyone voting while employed by the gov’t. Finally, in order to vote you should have paid income taxes (again, there could be exceptions of military or those significantly physically disabled).

This would limit the voting pool to those intelligent enough to understand the issues and those with basic knowledge of current events/issues, while weeding out those wholly dependent upon the gov’t (i.e., those who can basically vote themselves raises, etc.).

Absent doing the above, all democracies are doomed to failure as people have previously observed. An uneducated, low intelligence, unsophisticated majority will always be willing to vote for more benefits for themselves without caring or understanding how it will be paid for. And, politicians will always be willing to promise them those things to gain power.

There is very little chance at turning back the clock on the idea that gov’t will take care of everyone and provide for everything.

After the next civil war/revolution, the people who try set up the next constitution, or whatever they end up calling it, should ensure that universal suffrage is not on the table. It is recipe for disaster and always will be. No matter how much “education” we provide, a large portion of the population will never understand basic math/economics and will always want to vote themselves free stuff from the gov’t. They should not be allowed to vote in future systems.

Monkeytoe on September 9, 2013 at 9:18 AM

…as near as I can tell, it’s a problem which is completely out of reach of any solution.

No, it’s not. We simply don’t like the solution. You’re right, decentralization would help, but to solve the problem we’d need to tie a civics quiz to voter registration. We don’t like that idea since it would most definitely cause some people to be refused at the polls and deny them a vote… taxation without representation, anathema to what has been a core principle.

That said, it IS the solution. A simple voter registration course, offered free in high school, online, and at voter registration offices to be taken periodically would make it even.

Murf76 on September 9, 2013 at 10:02 AM

You’re right, decentralization would help, but to solve the problem we’d need to tie a civics quiz to voter registration. We don’t like that idea since it would most definitely cause some people to be refused at the polls and deny them a vote… taxation without representation, anathema to what has been a core principle.

Just because you can’t vote doesn’t necessarily mean you are not represented. Obviously, a politician is going to care more about actual voters than non-voters but would still represent everyone within his district.

That said, it IS the solution. A simple voter registration course, offered free in high school, online, and at voter registration offices to be taken periodically would make it even.

Murf76 on September 9, 2013 at 10:02 AM

This wouldn’t solve the problem. Having people sit through a class and then regurgitate answers on a multiple choice test doesn’t mean they understand issues, history, math, economics or anything else.

Universal suffrage is a bad model that will collapse of its own weight eventually as majorities in all western democracies continue to vote for their nations to sink deeper and deeper into debt until there is catastrophic failure across the board followed by social upheaval/war/etc. followed by new attempts to create a better social-compact.

The next great experiment will be modeled on the U.S., but will forgo universal suffrage and will place even greater restraints on gov’t power than our current constitution – including seriously restraining the power to spend and tax. A new founding document will make it clear that the gov’t is not responsible for the individual health or well being of any citizens and is not responsible for providing for any person’s continued existence and that the gov’t will not provide for individual welfare through entitlements of any kind.

Monkeytoe on September 9, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Ignorance is bliss, it also tends to vote Democrat. Why?, “because dey cares about da peple.”
Our education system and a media stuffed with semi-literates all longing to “make a differnce”, which as everyone knows you can only do through the federal government, are the main culprits.
If things get bad enough there may be a temporary attack of common sense, a short, passing attack. Then back to the usual.

arand on September 9, 2013 at 10:47 AM

For all the dislike of a college education around these parts, college educated folks who go to liberal arts focused schools, with an emphasis on the humanities, do spectacular on these types of quizzes. If this is a metric of U.S. intelligence, than our divestment from higher education and critical thinking in education has really sunk this country.

libfreeordie on September 8, 2013 at 10:52 AM

I hate to be the grammar police, but you are not exactly a ringing endorsement of what you are promoting.

DrMagnolias on September 9, 2013 at 12:09 PM

And as near as I can tell, it’s a problem which is completely out of reach of any solution.

Do they still do those educational PSA’s on Saturday mornings? “I’m just a bill, well I’m only a bill…”

A big part of the problem is how our national testing focuses on trivia questions and less on practical matters of civics. Coupled with an insistence on adding more women and minorities to history lessons, and students spend more time learning about the contributions of George Washington Carver (which are great), and less learning how our government works and why it was set up that way.

As a kid in Virginia, we had a pretty lively and living look at history when I was in school. You could visit places where things happened, and talk about guys like Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, who grew up in our area. But now? I doubt kids learn very much about those old white men.

hawksruleva on September 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

This is absurd. Universal suffrage means that many will have the right to vote who could not care less for the obligation which it carries. You will always have large numbers of people who are uninformed and will vote – that is why there are party mailers and newspaper endorsements. Nothing can be done about it, except to restrict the right to vote, which is NOT going to happen. Education cannot provide the answer, because whichever party owns the education system will provide the political perspective to the uninformed voter. The only thing you can do is TURNOUT the vote for your party or political affiliation. This the Dems and Unions have done extremely well for generations, and the nomination of a Black candidate made the difference in 2012 turnout. You want a different direction to the nation, state or city in which you live? Organize a good get out the vote campaign or you will always lose.

Shmuli on September 9, 2013 at 12:45 PM

For all the dislike of a college education around these parts, college educated folks who go to liberal arts focused schools, with an emphasis on the humanities, do spectacular on these types of quizzes. If this is a metric of U.S. intelligence, than our divestment from higher education and critical thinking in education has really sunk this country.

libfreeordie on September 8, 2013 at 10:52 AM

First, there is no “dislike of a college education” here. What is disliked is citing to authority that is not earned authority and/or idiotic college degrees that have no meaning and no value “womyn’s studies”, “critical race studies”, etc. If you tell me you have a masters in “education”, I’m not going to think highly of your graduate degree. If you have a B.A. in “African American Studies”, I’m not going to believe you are highly educated. And, depending on the college you gradated from, I may question whether you have any higher education at all. If you graduate with a degree in African American Studies from Harvard, I will at least assume you had to take regular courses to round out your liberal arts education that may have taught you something worthwhile or encouraged you to think. If you graduate with an African American Studies degree from small state U, I won’t even believe you received that much education.

There is also a current of thought (to which I belong) that not every kid should go or needs to go to college. First, not every kid has the aptitude for it. In fact, a majority does not. Second, not that many jobs truly require a college degree.

We have taken stuff that used to be learned at the high school level and moved it up to be a “college degree” so that we can make kids spend lots of money and think they earned a bona fide higher education degree, when in reality we are just compensating for the left/union destruction of public education.

when colleges are teaching remedial English and remedial math – it is not a college degree being earned. It is a GED at best. When kids are graduating from college and still writing at a 9th grade level or less (a large percentage of current college graduates), it is not a true degree.

Plus, employers now are requiring degrees for things that don’t need college degrees, which in turn forces things that used to require college degrees to require masters, etc.

In other words, we are over-inflating the perceived value of a college degree significantly while reducing the actual value of the college degree. Which is why employers are starting to look at ideas like a post-graduate SAT-type test to use to evaluate candidates. Because employers can no longer rely on college graduation or college grades as having any real meaning.

But let’s look at the second argument you make that “If this is a metric of U.S. intelligence, than our divestment from higher education and critical thinking in education has really sunk this country”.

The information being tested is the type of information that should be learned in K-12. So you are basically arguing that we need to “college educate” people in order for them to achieve what is basically high school graduate levels of knowledge and analytical thinking. (and, I won’t bother with the idiotic “divestment” argument – as if less money or kids go to college today. How do you define “divestment” in liberal la-la land?)

Monkeytoe on September 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Monkeytoe on September 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

::applause::

DrMagnolias on September 9, 2013 at 6:37 PM

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