People know more about American Idol than about America
Most Americans—56% to be precise—know that Paula Abdul is a judge on American Idol, but less than half can name the three branches of their government, according to a study administered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the University of Connecticut. It also found that only 27% of us could correctly identify what the First Amendment explicitly proscribes—and these were multiple choice questions (20% chance just by guessing).
High school graduates averaged 44% correct; college graduates did only slightly better, 57%—getting one more question right for each year of higher education. The quiz was given to 2000 Americans this past spring and only 29% received what would be a passing mark on it. Amazingly, elected officials actually scored lower than the general public.
Politicians … scored five points lower than the Average Joe, a performance that former Deputy Secretary of Education Eugene W. Hickok labeled “abysmal and alarming.”
— Seventy-nine (79) percent of elected officeholders did not know that the Bill of Rights expressly forbids the government establishing an official religion for the U.S.
— A large number (43 percent) of politicians did not know what the Electoral College does.
Only 32 percent of politicians can actually define what the free-enterprise system is – even though many of them may have campaigned for office pledging to defend it.
I’m guessing that most of those politicians were local officials and not national figures, though I could be wrong. Anyway, why should we expect our officials to know what they’re doing when we don’t? You get the government you deserve.
Further information on the study is available at http://www.americancivicliteracy.org