Majority of Americans Fail Basic Civics Exam


This is extremely sad but fits with what we are seeing in our country today.  National Review Online posted this story by Deroy Murdock highlighting how uninformed the American people are concerning basic civics.  The story is in response to a civics literacy exam given by Intercollegiate Studies Institute.  I guess I should not be but I was shocked reading some of the statistics.  I bet you will be too.

The results reveal that Americans are alarmingly uninformed about our Constitution, the basic functions of our government, the key texts of our national history, and economic principles.

  • Less than half can name all three branches of the government.
  • Only 21% know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
  • Although Congress has voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars, only 53% know that the power to declare war belongs to Congress. Almost 40% incorrectly believe it belongs to the president.
  • Only 55% know that Congress shares authority over U.S. foreign policy with the president. Almost a quarter incorrectly believe Congress shares this power with the United Nations.
  • Only 27% know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.
  • Less than one in five know that the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson. Almost half incorrectly believe it can be found in the Constitution. [Major Findings from Exam]

All I can say is….well I really have no words.  Murdock sums it up well at the end of his article

The grim results of ISI’s study reveal a crisis in this nation’s defining concept. In 1776, America’s Founding Fathers broke with Britain and established a country where men and women liberated from monarchic despotism would rule themselves — provided they were equipped with the requisite knowledge and wisdom. Will a people mesmerized by the televised humiliation of wannabe pop stars maintain this essential capacity for self-government? Thomas Jefferson’s warning remains as timely as ever: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . . it expects what never was and never will be.” [full article here]

Take the exam yourself and see how you do.  Leave your results in the comments section.  For the record I scored 81.82% (27 out of 33 correct).  Of the 6 I missed, I should have gotten 3 more correct but I didn’t.

Is it time to for voters to have to pass an exam like this before being allowed to cast a vote?  You tell me…..


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