Where did we put those blueprints?

Dimmer grasp of civics imperils nation's future

What happens to a free country that has lost
its blueprint for freedom?

We may be finding out.

Indeed, that American self-governance is at risk may not be a matter of opinion.

Certainly it’s a subjective view, held by increasing numbers of Americans, that our government is ignoring the Constitution, which is alarming. But it seems an inescapable conclusion.

The 10th Amendment, for instance – which requires that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” – appears hopelessly neglected and passé, if not extinct. The growth of federal government reach alone is evidence enough of that.

But the argument that Americans have lost its blueprint for self-governance is hard to refute and impossible to ignore. In the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, high-school students nationwide proved just 22 percent proficient in civics, and only 18 percent in history.

That means about 80 percent of them are ignorant of precisely how the country functions and the historical reasons for it.

Adults aren’t much better: 71 percent got an “F” on a national civics test, with an average score of an embarrassing 49 percent. Only 3.4 percent got an “A” or “B.”

And our elected officials? Their average score was 44 percent – worse than the public at large!

We ask again: What happens to a free country that has lost its blueprint for freedom?

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