Is America stupid or just selective? When I initially reviewed the questions on the survey, I predicted that there would be a higher percentage of right answers on the pop culture questions than the civic literacy questions. After I compiled the data, I was pleasantly surprised to find that more interviewees got the civic questions right that the geography and pop culture questions. I believe there are many factors as to why this is was the results of the assignment as outlined further.
Initially, we should consider the fact that in recent years, there have been a rowing number of youth getting involved in political issues and taking notice of our government system. As a Ron Paul supporter, I can’t help but credit him with increasing the visibility of American government to the nation as well as highlighting the faults of our current system (the IRS). I also believe that the significant movements towards supporting gay marriage and legalizing marijuana have increased awareness and visibility on our government because the people are passionate about these issues.
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Then are we to conclude that America only values civic literacy when significant issues are being decided? The second consideration for the findings of the survey lead to the fact that our access to clear and concise information, with the invention of the internet, has made American’s more informed. Or more likely, the invention of social media, for example Backbone. Our parents shared their political views and information through written and spoken word. However, with technology as it is today, we can start a virtual petition, organize discussion groups on Backbone and even share factual information with the click of a button.
This thought conflict with Chessman’s Gross Ignorance, pig 17 which states “The error can be traced to our mistaking unprecedented access to information with the actual consumption of it. ” This quote leads me to another point which is the concept of personalization of information. As a result of personal computers, phones, social media etc. We as individuals can customize our news feeds etc. To our preferences. If a particular individual has a strong interest in their civil liberties and the state of current government affairs, that information is just a click away-but so is on demand television and Youth.
With so much more content readily available today, it’s not too much of a surprise that American’s choose their knowledge base to be specific to pop culture or civil liberties. Although, I have to admit that most of my surveyors were individuals in the legal field which may explain why the results of correct answers to my pop culture questions were so much lower that civic literacy. My last observation is a personal one taken while giving the surveys to individuals. I noticed that many people would confuse the House of Representatives with the US Senate and vice versa.
It seems that many people, like myself find our government system confusing and opt of understanding it all together. In fact, according to Romano, How Dumb Are We, pig 2 “Most experts agree that the relative complexity of the U. S. Political system makes it hard for Americans to keep up. In many European countries, parliaments have proportional representation, and the majority party rules without having to “share power with a lot of substantial governments,” notes Yale political scientist Jacob Hacked’. This is absolutely true and sometimes I wonder if this was created by design.
For example, our laws and IRS codes are so complex that an individual citizen cannot be reasonably expected to understand the meaning without the assistance of an attorney. Another observation taken from the survey results were that no one got the answer to #1 right. I guess I’m not too surprised. The importance and impact of amendments to the Constitution is not significant to most people on a daily basis, they are more likely to use the precious real-estate in their memory for something more practical. Overall, I found this assignment both surprising and contradicting much of the materials we covered last week.