Thirty-nine delegates represented the people of the 13 original states at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When they signed the document on September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was ratified and put into effect.
While the United States is young at just 230 years, the United States Constitution, our country’s supreme law, is by far the longest lasting constitution in human history. And it is responsible for our nation becoming the freest and most prosperous nation ever.
Those two paragraphs contain far more information about our Constitution than a frightening number of American citizens actually know about their founding document.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a poll about the Constitution in 2014, and it revealed how shockingly little people know about even the most basic elements of our government and the Constitution that formed it.
Here are some examples from the poll:
* More than one person in three (37 percent) could not name any of the rights protected by the First Amendment.
* Freedom of speech was identified by 48 percent, but the right to peaceably assemble came in at just 10 percent, freedom of religion at 15 percent, freedom of the press at 14 percent, and the right to petition the government at 3 percent.
* Only one of four (26 percent) could name all three branches of the government. (In 2011, 38 percent could name all three branches.)
* One-third couldn't name any branch of government.
*Asked which party has the most members in the House of Representatives, 38 percent said they knew the Republicans were the majority, but 17 percent responded the Democrats were, and 44 percent reported that they did not know (up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).
*Asked which party controls the Senate, 38 percent correctly said the Democrats, 20 percent said the Republicans, and 42 percent said they did not know (also up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).
Annenberg’s director, Kathleen Hall Jamieson lamented, "Protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution presupposes that we know what they are. The fact that many don't is worrisome."
An Annenberg poll in 2017 would likely produce even worse results. The future of both our freedom and prosperity are in question in our country, largely because our schools and families have failed to teach our young people the fundamentals of America that are essential to creating informed citizens and preserving our republic. And as bad as the picture painted by the Annenberg study is, The Federalist online paints a picture that is much worse.
“U.S. civics education, if it exists at all, is being transformed into a political machine to push left-wing causes, undermine American government, and incite civil unrest,” writes The Federalist’s managing editor, Joy Pullman.
A 525-page report from the National Association of Scholars titled “Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics,” reveals the “New Civics” that uses attractive, bipartisan-sounding words like “civics” and “service learning” to trick Americans into allowing Leftist political machinery to hijack public funds and young minds, Pullmann wrote.
“Poor civics instruction has increased over the past half-century,” she wrote, “likely contributing to the broad decline of American civic life.” She then listed some long-standing and strong social influences we are losing:
* Volunteering has dropped dramatically despite increases in unemployment and free time
* Far fewer Americans participate in social activities and organizations
* Those who join the military are increasingly drawn from a narrowing subset of Americans
* Many adults have scant knowledge of American government and history (but still can vote!)
Anyone over the age of 60 should recognize the high degree of failure of our education system and families to properly educate our youth about the wonders of the United States of America, so that they can actually perform as competent and loyal citizens.
Recent protests adequately show that the demonstrators do not understand the First Amendment. They often don’t have an informed idea of what they are demonstrating against, and many protests are based not on what actually happened at an event, but instead on a perception of it. And, they either don’t understand, or don’t care, that a constitutionally protected protest is neither violent nor destructive.
Karl Marx would be proud of the Left’s efforts and success. We see his words at work: “Take away a nation’s heritage and they are more easily persuaded.”
Quiet subversion, done both deliberately and through ignorance, is at work in many schools and the news media. Once regarded as living its motto “all the news that is fit to print,” The New York Times has abandoned fairness and objectivity, an infection shared by much of the national news media, which now seem to subscribe to the motto, “all the news that fits.”
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as having answered a question about whether the Founders had created a republic or a monarchy with this statement: A republic, if you can keep it.
A large number of the American people have decided that our republic should no longer be kept, and will happily sacrifice its historic and broad successes.