Poll: 64 Percent of Americans Cannot Identify All Three Branches Of Government

500px-Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_StatesIn the wake of Constitution Day, there is a truly depressing survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center that found that 227 years after the signing of the Constitution only 36 percent of Americans can actually name the three branches of government. Thus, 64 percent of Americans cannot name the three parts of our tripartite system.

The same rough percentage (62 percent) was unaware that the GOP controlled the House of Representatives and 17 percent actually thought that the Democrats were in control. The same percentage — only 38 percent — knew that Democrats controlled the Senate. Some 20 percent thought that the GOP controlled the Senate.

The situation is even worse with regard to the details of Article I. Only roughly a quarter knew that it took two-thirds of a majority of both houses to override a presidential veto (27 percent).

Only 15 percent could identify the Chief Justice of the United States while, in a truly depressing comparison, 27 percent knew Randy Jackson was a judge on American Idol.

That is a chilling result 227 years after the signing of Constitution, but that is not likely to concern most citizens since only 13 percent knew the Constitution was signed in 1787.

As discussed earlier, the problem is not unique to the United States as similar surveys in Germany and England have shown.

This is the result of years of neglect of the civics training in our country from elementary high schools. We need a return to basics in our schools, including our constitutional history and values. Americans are fiercely proud of their country but many know relatively little of the key characteristics of our system or its history — the very thing and defines and binds us as a people.

Source: Washington Post

488 thoughts on “Poll: 64 Percent of Americans Cannot Identify All Three Branches Of Government”

  1. We really are a nation of idiots, as reflected in both the article and many of the comments.

  2. David and Nick,
    You notice Annie still won’t attempt to answer questions 5-7? That is how deeply entrenched she is. Just an ounce of humility would allow reason to overcome her stubbornness.

    7. If you already have a government designed on the principle of unalienable rights, then WHY would you ever want to change that government so that nothing you have is unalienable?

  3. David, You need an Ignore List. Remember, you never get all that intelligent and thoughtful effort and time back. The Serenity Prayer helps me a lot.

    1. Nick wrote: “… you never get all that intelligent and thoughtful effort and time back.”

      Exactly what I was thinking. She was actually bringing up some fun stuff to talk about, but she doesn’t seem to want to talk about it.

  4. (also known as: is-ought fallacy, arguing from is to ought, is-should fallacy)

    Description: When the conclusion expresses what ought to be, based only on actually what is more natural.  This is very common, and most people never see the problem with these kinds of assertions due to accepted social and moral norms.  This bypasses reason and we fail to ask why something that is, ought to be that way.

    This is the opposite of the moralistic fallacy.

    Logical Form:

    X is true according to nature.
    Therefore, X is morally right.
    Example #1:

    Homosexuality is morally wrong because, in nature, sex is used for reproduction.
    Explanation: We cannot make moral judgments based on nature — unless that is your moral philosophy to do so, but then you really need to reevaluate what “moral” means if living by instinct and desire leads to moral behavior.  As for our example, the assumption is also made that sex is for reproduction only.

    Example #2:

    Nature gives people diseases and sickness; therefore, it is morally wrong to interfere with nature and treat sick people with medicine.
    Explanation: We go against nature all the time.  We cannot sometimes use nature as a moral baseline and at other times condemn her for her careless attitude and indifference toward the human race.

    Exception: At times, our morality will be in line with nature — but if we are justifying a moral action, we need to use something besides nature.

    Tip: Never be afraid to ask, “why”.

  5. David, The Fairness Sheriff’s are all progressives who believe in equal outcome. Whining and victimhood has become our new national pastime. But, you condescending, paternalistic, wealthy, fat cat, white, males are the reason!! Time for sensitivity training young man.

  6. My comment corrected.

    on 1, September 23, 2014 at 8:14 amAnnie
    David, as other women commenters here have noted, you are quite condescending. Whether you have read these various philosophies yesterday OR years ago, it is instinctual to know fairly quickly which ones are fallacious completely OR partially. So don’t pat yourself on the back too hard because if you still adhere to a fallacious philosophy so many years later, one must question your powers of discernment.

  7. Mhj. You haven’t read the entire thread. I argued my position in my own words, when it was obvious my own words weren’t making a dent, I used the words of the philosophers and others who presented by opinions, hence the quotes. what I concluded is this, the deeply indoctrinated are impervious to better ideas.

  8. Absolutely do not agree. Any people when oppressed beyond the point of toleration will rebel and replace those who oppressed them. It’s not based on anything by a human desire for a better life.

    1. Annie wrote: “Absolutely do not agree. Any people when oppressed beyond the point of toleration will rebel and replace those who oppressed them.”

      People can certainly rebel at any time, but when it is not a big rebellion, we call them criminals and terrorists. If a large rebellion is able to happen, the big question is whether that rebellion will result in something better. Our war of independence was somewhat unique in world history, being based upon a rationalism of natural law theory.

      Perhaps you do not understand that the English Civil War that ended in 1651 was the context for Thomas Hobbes writings. Their civil war executed Charles I and exiled his son Charles II. It replaced the monarchy with the Commonwealth of England. It led to a monarch not being able to act without the consent of Parliament.

      Hobbes wrote that there were only three types of governments: Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy. Of these three, Hobbes said Monarchy was best. Is that what you believe?

  9. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” particularly when it directed at just proving your point. Olly’s questions are pertinent to the thread as it has developed. Parroting endless nonspecific quotes is sophomoric; so is pointing somewhere downhill to the answers. If a person wants street credits answer each of the questions head on and be prepared to defend your answers. Quotes should bolster an argument, not supplant it.

  10. No Nick, I didn’t miss it. I’ve met people that simply believe they have a complete grasp on the history and know better than founders. That’s either massive arrogance or pure ignorance. Likely somewhere in between.

  11. Olly, You’re missing my sarcasm. I actually don’t even think they’re well intentioned. Look @ how the people who governed by that “To each according..” philosophy killed hundreds of millions of their own people. Their is a fundamental self loathing in Communism, socialism and progressivism. Thusly, as you pointed out, they enslave themselves.

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