The Annenberg Civics Knowledge Survey, conducted since 2006, focuses on the American public’s understanding of the Constitution of the United States. Since 2013, the civics knowledge survey has been conducted annually for Constitution Day (Sept. 17) as the Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey.
The latest results from the 2021 survey, while encouraging, are also, in my opinion, quite embarrassing. Here are some of the highlights:
- only 56% of Americans were capable of naming all three branches of government. In 2006, just 33% of respondents could accurately say the three branches. Yes, we got better, but we are still woefully uninformed.
- asked to name the five rights protected by the First Amendment:
- 74% correctly stated that the First Amendment protects the freedom of speech.
- 56% knew it also protects the freedom of religion
- 50% knew it protects the freedom of the press
- only 30% knew it protects the right to assembly
- and only 20% knew it protects the right to petition
- 61% incorrectly stated that the First Amendment’s protection of free speech means Facebook must permit all users to freely express themselves on their website.
- this is further broken down as follows: 66% of conservatives, 61% of moderates, and 55% of liberals have this belief about Facebook
- 51% correctly said that the Supreme Court gets the final say on whether something the president does is constitutional or not.
- 35% knew how long the term of office is for a senator while 36% knew what it was for a representative
- Asked what it means when the Supreme Court rules 5-4 in a case:
- 61% correctly chose “the decision is the law and needs to be followed.”
- 19% incorrectly said “the decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration”
- 15% incorrectly said “the decision is sent back to the federal court of appeals to be decided there”
So what does all this mean?
To me, it means that a lot of people who are out there shouting with a megaphone on social media about what’s wrong with our country, don’t know much about our country.
So how can they be expected to make an informed opinion?
It also means that many of the people listening to such a person also likely don’t know what’s right, so they just blindly jump on the bandwagon.
It’s a classic case of the blind leading the blind.
And for once, I think I have a solution, and it’s a fairly easy one.
Onc eyou reach the age of 18, and every five years after that, all U.S. citiznes must take the U.S, Citizenship test. If you don’t pass, then you must read 10 posts on Borden’s blog and post a comment on each one. Once you do that, you are eligible to take the test again.
If that’s not incentive enough to pass the test the first time, I don’t know what would be…
*image from Democracy Chronicles