Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do you know what the Electoral College does?

An editorial by Ed Feulner appeared on today highlighting the fact that most Americans just don't really know how government works.  You can find the article here.

According to the article, "The ISI [Intercollegiate Studies Institute] gave more than 2,500 people a 33-question quiz about basic historical and constitutional principles. The average score: 49 percent."

Here are some other results of the test:

* Fewer than half can name all three branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial).

* Only 53 percent realize Congress has the power to declare war (even though lawmakers have voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars).

* Just 55 percent know that Congress shares authority over foreign policy with the president. Roughly 25 percent mistakenly believe that Congress shares its foreign policy authority with the United Nations.

This is perhaps the most disturbing part:

In ISI’s sample, 164 of the 2,508 respondents said they had been elected to government office at least once. There’s no way of knowing if this meant federal, state or local government. But it’s sobering to note that those who say they’ve held office earned an average score of 44 percent on the civic literacy test -- lower than the public they were elected to serve.

And get this:

Among these officeholders, almost half (43 percent) don’t know what the Electoral College does. One in five guessed it “trains those aspiring for higher political office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates” instead of identifying its actual role: selecting the president of the United States.

So not only are voters tragically uninformed, but the people we're voting for are, as well.

I have a recommendation to anyone who wishes to change this state of affairs. Read the US Constitution. It's actually not long at all. My pocket-sized version is only 37 pages, including all the amendments. Compare this to the European Union Constitution, where the "reader friendly" version has 219 pages.

And if you're not good with big words, they even have a version of the US Constitution for kids!

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