Col­lege grads re­miss in re­gards to civic duty

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Pur­cell Colum­nist Tom Pur­cell’s col­umn is dis­trib­uted by the Ca­gle Car­toons Inc. syn­di­cate. Readers may write to him via email at Tom@TomPur­cell.com.

Tom Pur­cell talks about a sur­vey regarding col­lege grad­u­ates' knowl­edge of the coun­try's prin­ci­ples.

“What do you mean Judge Judy is not a U.S. Supreme Court jus­tice?”

“Ah, yes, you speak of a re­cent sur­vey by the Amer­i­can Coun­cil of Trustees and Alumni’s ‘A Cri­sis in Civic Ed­u­ca­tion.’ ACTA found that a high per­cent­age of col­lege grad­u­ates are ig­no­rant of the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of our repub­lic.”

“I’m not ig­no­rant. Try me.”

“What’s the process for amend­ing the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and how is an amend­ment is rat­i­fied?”

“That’s easy. The pres­i­dent amends the Con­sti­tu­tion with a red pen and rat­i­fies his changes by telling gov­ern­ment bu­reau­crats to write new rules and reg­u­la­tions. At least that’s how Pres­i­dent Obama seems to do it.”

“Sorry, but the an­swer is in Ar­ti­cle V of our Con­sti­tu­tion. Amend­ments may be pro­posed by the Congress, when twothirds of both the House and the Se­nate “deem it nec­es­sary,” or by a con­ven­tion of states called for by two-thirds of the state leg­is­la­tures.” “I knew that. I was just check­ing to see that you did. What about rat­i­fi­ca­tion?”

“Well, to be­come a part of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, the amend­ment must be rat­i­fied by ei­ther the leg­is­la­tures of three-fourths of our states, with each hav­ing equal vot­ing weight, or by rat­i­fy­ing con­ven­tions in three­fourths of our states. The Congress de­cides which of the two rat­i­fi­ca­tion pro­cesses to fol­low.”

“What­ever. With ev­ery­body shout­ing at each other these days, there’s no way we’ll ever get two-thirds of our politi­cians to agree on any­thing.”

“The ran­cor in our pol­i­tics is con­cern­ing, but what is more con­cern­ing is how lit­tle col­legee­d­u­cated Amer­i­cans know about their gov­ern­ment. Fewer than half of col­lege grad­u­ates knew that pres­i­den­tial im­peach­ments are tried be­fore the Se­nate.”

“The Se­nate? You mean Judge Judy doesn’t over­see im­peach­ments, ei­ther?”

“Another wor­ri­some find­ing of the sur­vey was that al­most 40 per­cent of col­lege grad­u­ates did not know in our sys­tem of gov­ern­ment only the Congress has the power to de­clare war.”

“You can’t fault me for not know­ing that one, when our last three or four pres­i­dents didn’t seem to know it, ei­ther.”

“Here’s a fact that con­fused more than half of the col­lege grad­u­ates sur­veyed: How long are the terms of our mem­bers of Congress?”

“Let me take a stab at an­swer­ing that one. In the House, the terms run un­til our rep­re­sen­ta­tives qual­ify for ex­ces­sive re­tire­ment pack­ages? And terms in the Se­nate run un­til a se­na­tor gets caught in an in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ship with one of his young staffers?”

“Un­for­tu­nately, you are not en­tirely in­cor­rect. How­ever, it is re­gret­table that so many col­lege grad­u­ates do not know that House mem­bers serve twoyear terms and Se­nate mem­bers serve six-year terms.”

“Well, maybe this is all just a fluke. Maybe the col­lege grad­u­ates who took this year’s sur­vey were hav­ing a bad day.”

“If only that were the case. ACTA says that in its 2014 sur­vey, one-third of col­lege grad­u­ates were un­aware that Pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt spear­headed the New Deal. And in a sur­vey last year, more than one-third of col­lege grad­u­ates couldn’t place the Amer­i­can Civil War within the cor­rect 20year time frame.”

“You worry too much. What’s the big deal if peo­ple are too busy to keep up with a bunch of ran­dom civics stuff?”

“Be­cause, as the ACTA sur­vey con­cludes, our Founders built a sys­tem of self-gov­ern­ment that de­mands fully en­gaged and well-in­formed ci­ti­zens. Poorly in­formed ci­ti­zens are more eas­ily ma­nip­u­lated by char­la­tan politi­cians, who, if not kept in check, will even­tu­ally be the ruin of sys­tem of gov­ern­ment.”

“Maybe Judge Judy can keep them in check. I hope she runs for Supreme Court in the next elec­tion.”

“Oh, brother.”

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