(Roughly) Daily

What Obama’s up against…

… or, how Bush got away with it:

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a not-for-profit membership organization serving college students and faculties around the U.S., recently conducted a study, the third in an annual series, testing the civics knowledge of Americans.  The sample included both respondents with college educations and without, and had a significant sample of elected officials.  And while ISI leans noticeably to the Right in its programmatic work, the study results should cause concern on both sides of the aisle…  A few of the results:

-Only half of U.S. adults can name all three branches of government

– 54% know that the power to declare war belongs to Congress; almost 40% incorrectly said that it belongs to the president.

– 56% can name Paula Abdul as a judge on American Idol, but only 21% know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

– Just 54% can correctly identify a basic description of the free enterprise system.

A college education doesn’t seem to help:  only 24% of college graduates know the First Amendment prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.

As for elected officials: 43% do not know the Electoral College is a constitutionally mandated assembly that elects the president. One in five thinks it “trains those aspiring for higher office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates.”  And 30% of elected officials do not know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence.

Overall, elected officials scored an average grade of just 44 percent; ordinary citizens did  better, though not much, scoring 49 percent.  No group got a passing mark.

It goes on…  One can see the study results in full, along with the questionnaire and a description of the methodology, here (section tabs, on the left).

As we remind ourselves that the only free electorate is an informed electorate, we might warm the birthday tapas for Félix Lope de Vega Carpio– Lope de Vega– the Spanish dramatist who was born on this date in 1562.  He is reckoned to have written between 1,500 and 2,500 fully fledged plays, of which 425 have survived.  One estimate puts his work at twenty million dramatic verses, earning him a position in the firmament of Spanish letters second only to that of Cervantes.

Lope de Vega

Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 25, 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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