This is just sad:
CINCINNATI, April 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the midst of the Presidential election, a new national survey from Xavier University's Center for the Study of the American Dream reveals one in three native-born citizens failed the civics portion of the naturalization test, in stark contrast to the 97.5% pass rate among immigrants applying for citizenship.
Passing means answering 6 out of 10 questions correctly. If the pass rate were 7 out of 10, one half of native-born Americans would fail.
The Center's nationwide survey tested adult Americans on 10 random questions taken directly from the naturalization test. In a concurrent survey, the Center found that 77% of native-born citizens agreed that all Americans should be able to pass the test. Furthermore, 60% agreed that high school students should have to pass the naturalization test as a requirement for graduation.
The Center's research persistently shows a strong distrust of our public institutions, particularly government and our political leaders, yet 59% of survey respondents could not name one power of the federal government, 77% could not name one power of the states, and 62% could not name the Governor of their state.
I hate to say it but as an electorate we've definitely gotten dumber. Blame cable news? Maybe. But as people spend more and more time consuming only media that supports their own existing point of view (if they even watch any news or punditry at all), we have to have seen this coming.
Those in political power on both sides know that and play to it. Our schools have cut civics education, and when they do teach government they totally avoid anything that might be even remotely considered "controversial" (like the civil rights movement, for example). This lack of education is apparent in comments and posts when people incorrectly characterize the meaning of various elements of the Constitution. It's amazing how many people misunderstand the First Amendment, for example, considering it a license to say anything anytime anyplace and be free of any responsibility or consequence of same. These are often the same people who talk about "our freedoms" using the plural... and often mistake socialism, communism and fascism as interchangeable.
What else should we expect when people like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain are offered up as credible and legitimate candidates for the highest office in the country. Lack of intellectual firepower has become an attribute. Not that everyone is a dope, but the wealthy and the powerful seem to prefer an ignorant electorate... so much more malleable and gullible. Why else would teachers now be positioned by those who represent the 1% as some kind of pox on society? Why else would conservatives try to eliminate Pell grants and other sources of educational funding for those who are otherwise priced out of the market even at public institutions? Why else would people routinely vote against their own best interests?
Reminds me of this line from Animal House: Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son." Yet doing so seems just fine for far too many Americans these days. And politicians like it that way.
[h/t to recently naturalized US citizen Dietram Scheufele for the link to the original study.]