The Right Resistance: Everything I needed to know about civics I learned from Schoolhouse Rock
Tomorrow is Constitution Day. How much do Americans really know about it?
It goes without saying there’s been lots of talk recently about the possibility America is hurtling towards some sort of civil war or at the very least, a non-peaceful political division between blue states and red. The economics news isn’t good, the national debt is well over $30 trillion and growing by the minute and politics in today’s day and age is getting uglier and uglier.
Most sane people I know haven’t succumbed to the notion that Americans are stocking up on firearms in record numbers simply to prepare for the internal Armageddon to come, but there’s no mistaking the fact folks are on edge and it wouldn’t take a whole lot of nudging for the proverbial match to strike the powder keg and then watch as things blow up in an instant. Everywhere you look the “old” America seems to be disappearing and it’s scary to witness the corrosion of the once unshakeable psychological union in everyone’s mind.
How could this be? For those of us who grew up in a time before the internet, social media and widespread ignorance of everything meaningful as the accepted norm, we can still hum the words to the Preamble to the Constitution in our heads, due to Saturday morning cartoons and School House Rock. Let’s sing it together, shall we? – “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility (-eeeee), provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, a-and secure the Blessings of Liberty (-eeeee) to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Watch the old animated version and reminisce about America as the way it once was and was intended to be.
Needless to say, these days, thanks in large part to an American public education system consumed and digested by leftist teachers’ unions more concerned with securing tenure and generous health benefits to their members (as well as donating to Democrat political candidates) than they are teaching basic civics to schoolchildren, over half of the U.S. population can’t even name the three branches of the federal government.
I was surprised that I was surprised at such a revelation, but yes, it really has gotten THAT bad. By the same token, I wonder what percentage of the culturally obsessed citizenry would be able to put a name to a photo of LeBron James, Kim Kardashian or Oprah Winfrey?
Adam Barnes reported at The Hill (in its Changing America series) earlier this week:
“Americans’ understanding of basic facts about the U.S. government declined for the first time in six years, as less than half in a new survey could name all three branches of government. The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s annual Constitution Day Civics Survey found a significant drop in the percentage of Americans who could name all three branches of government — executive, legislative, and judicial — falling by 9 percentage points from a year earlier.
“About a quarter of Americans surveyed could not name a single branch. The survey also found a decline in the number of respondents who could name any of the five freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment.
“Freedom of religion was named by 24 percent of those surveyed, falling from 56 percent from the previous survey. Those who named freedom of the press also declined sharply down by 30 percentage points from 50 percent in 2021. Around 26 percent of respondents could not name any First Amendment freedoms. And the percentage of respondents who listed the right to bear arms — a right protected under the Second Amendment — as a First Amendment protection tripled from 2021 rising to 9 percent.”
Did people really get that dumb because of COVID lockdowns? Astonishing figures, aren’t they?
Yes, tomorrow is the 235th anniversary of the signing of the great document, the Constitution, the Law that Governs Government, the one that was crafted to guarantee all of those things some of us sang about before we were old enough to understand what a governing charter even was (thanks to Schoolhouse Rock, of course).
Historians tell us that the great men met in 1787 in Philadelphia to try and make alterations and improvements to the Articles of Confederation but instead tossed the newly formed nation’s baby out with the bathwater and came up with something completely new from which to bind ourselves together as a singular entity instead of thirteen autonomous states. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride in those 235 years since, and we fought a bloody war less than a century after signing and ratification to define the responses to a host of unanswered controversies left dangling by the Founders, but here we are, still arguing with each other in 2022 about what it means to be an American.
And it’s really no wonder that we’re still shouting about such matters since, according to the above referenced survey, a large swath of Americans doesn’t really know anything about, much less comprehend, how our government works. Is it pathetic, or simply sad? Far too many count on pols like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi to tell them about what government does and doesn’t do. No wonder there’s such miserable unawareness in today’s world.
Thankfully, all hope is not lost on some aspects of constitutional freedom. Again, from the Annenberg survey: “But respondents did exhibit significant knowledge in several areas, including some aspects of firearm ownership and search and seizure laws. More than 80 percent knew the Supreme Court upheld citizens’ rights to own a gun, while around 78 percent know that the Bill of Rights protects Americans from illegal searches and seizures.”
Apparently big majorities of people understand about (some) basic rights but they aren’t aware of what our government is doing to safeguard and protect – or neglect -- those sacred principles. “Searches and seizures” and “Firearms” are inexorably tied together in the age of Joe Biden, where the president’s Justice Department’s goons raid the private home of a former president and also make unannounced visits to good citizens who they suspected might’ve been at the January 6 “tourism riot” before Joe Biden was inaugurated.
Unfortunately, the slice of the population who knows about government and how it functions are also the ones being singled out for distrust and oppression by its current leaders. Democrats willingly leave the most oblivious citizens alone, counting on them to remain clueless and therefore constitute no threat to those in power. It should be the Democrat credo: “The dumber you are, the safer you are in Joe Biden’s universe”.
That’s it! I’ve finally figured out what senile Joe means by “saving democracy!”
Since the modern Democrat conception of “democracy” appears to be the preservation of a voting system whereby anyone and everyone participates regardless of tax contributions, citizenship status, possession of operational brain matter, residence in the jurisdiction and/or a basic ability to show identification at a physical polling location, it’s completely understandable how liberals frantically desire to ensure that “democracy” is preserved.
This is the reason why senile Joe and the rest of his fellow Democrats are so bent on trying to shove nationwide mail-in balloting down our throats and to take away mandatory Voter ID. It’s all a grand scheme to ensure that the dumbest and most uninformed among us participate in each election, because the low information gaggle invariably chooses Democrats. The intellectual lightweights have a strange bond with the wealthy elites in this regard. Who would’ve figured?
It's also safe to say the writers behind the Constitution counted on a well-informed public to vote in representatives who would swear an oath to the founding document and then propose and pass laws according to its provisions. Then, if the legislators went astray, the courts (judicial branch) would steer the republic back on course. And the executive would be a man of the People who would faithfully execute the laws that Congress passed as well as nominate other trustworthy servants to serve as judges and department heads.
The three branches of government were intended to be checks on each other as well as offer balance to the citizenry, who would make changes at the ballot box if things ever got too far out of whack. It hasn’t worked out that way largely due to the growth of the federal leviathan beyond anyone’s wildest contemplation back in the late eighteenth century as well as the vast expansion of the federal bureaucracy and deep state under the guise of executive power.
It's so bad these days that all presidents abuse executive powers, with presidents Obama and senile Joe Biden being by far the worst offenders.
Don’t forget that Biden waved his executive pen a few weeks ago and wiped-out hundreds of billions of dollars of student debt in the blink of an eye, all for political reasons. And Obama similarly used his “authority” to legalize millions of illegal aliens (which was subsequently overturned by a judge). How come there’s no Schoolhouse Rock song about that? Oh wait, there was – at least the Saturday Night Live version, back when SNL was still funny.
The need for systemic reform and political self-restraint is great but there doesn’t appear to be help on the horizon. The two parties do their back-and-forth campaign dance every two or four years with neither really bothering to debate the limits imposed by the Constitution. Perhaps that’s why there are so many mentions of a possible civil war, because something always gets lost in the substance-free shouting match.
Think about this concept tomorrow when you’re watching college football, going to the shooting range with that new gun you bought or simply staying home and enjoying time with your family in the backyard. We need the Constitution and its government restraining powers now more than ever.
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