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Could This Explain the Mess We’re In?

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation recently released the results of a study it conducted concerning American voters’ knowledge of their history. What they reveal is downright scary as we approach the 2018 mid-term elections. But, be that as it may, they also help to explain why our nation is in its current situation of political polarization and the precipitous decline in the tone of politics in the last twenty-five to thirty years.

At the heart of the study is the U.S. citizenship test of basic facts about our nation’s history. Among the findings of the study are these:

Only 1 in 3 Americans can pass the citizenship test, which requires only a score of 60 percent. Most of those in the study didn’t score even that low grade.

72 percent couldn’t correctly identify the original 13 colonies.

Less than one-quarter knew why the colonists had fought the British in the first place.

Double-digit percent thought that Dwight Eisenhower fought in the Civil War. Some even thought he was a Vietnam-era general.

Only 19 percent of the people aged 45 and under passed the test.

These results are not just embarrassing for a nation that has the greatest access to education and that spends substantially more on education than most of the other developed countries of the world. They’re critical to any effort by freedom-loving people to preserve what is left of our American freedoms. They represent an ominous omen for our national future.

This is why I’m not too thrilled with massive voter registration drives. Freedom requires INFORMED voters, not just large numbers of voters. Some politicians intentionally use such drives to flood the polls with uninformed and therefore gullible voters. They also appeal to the electorate’s emotions sparked by incidents without any regard for reason and logic about real foundational issues. Many such voters won’t even know who is running for which offices until they walk in the door of their polling place and glance at the sample ballot posted there. Furthermore, if they don’t know their history or their constitution, demagogues both journalistic and political can promise them the moon, and many of them will believe and vote for the imposters. Before such voters even realize that they have been enjoying freedom, they will lose it.

Sincere lovers of freedom do not call for blind patriotism or mindless ritualism. They want an informed patriotism and civil civic dialogue about real issues. Demagogues know, however, that they cannot win in a contest of logic with informed voters.  That’s why we’re seeing today the development of a mindless mob mentality.

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