Ignorance About Our Democracy Emperils Same

Naomi Wolf is not mincing words when it comes to this warning piece about our younger generations ignorance about democracy and how our government works, from the town level on up to our national government.

It's a scary read:

When I speak on college campuses, I find that students are either baffled by democracy's workings or that they don't see any point in engaging in the democratic process. Sometimes both.

As the Founders knew, if citizens are ignorant of or complacent about the proper workings of a republic "of laws not of men," then any leader of any party -- or any tyrannical Congress or even a tyrannical majority -- can abuse the power they hold. But at this moment of threat to the system the Framers set in place, a third of young Americans don't really understand what they were up to.

Here are some actual quotes from otherwise smart, well-meaning young Americans:

"I show my true convictions by refusing to vote."

"The two parties are exactly the same."

"Congress is bought and paid for."

"Elections are just a front for corporations."

"My teacher says you shouldn't believe anything you read in the newspapers at all," a 16-year-old from affluent Menlo Park, Calif., told me last week.

The United States has been blessed with more than 200 years of a strong democracy, so it's easy to yield to a comforting -- and lazy -- conviction that it's magically self-sustaining and doesn't need to be defended, an idea that would have horrified the Founders, who knew that our democracy would be a fragile thing.

While Naomi couldn't resist throwing some digs at the Bush Administration for these failures, blaming No Child Left Behind for this lack of knowledge, the problem started long before Bush, in this case George Herbert Walker Bush, took office. The problem goes all the way back to the late 60's and early 70's when the radical left blamed “The Man” for everything from halitosis to VD (venereal disease or STD's to those not in the know).

Many of the opinions quoted from Wolf's piece could have been taken right out of the Radical Leftist Student Handbook, circa 1969. Many of the radical leftist students became radical leftist teachers and professors. It is they who have decided that democracy is not something we should be teaching our children. It appears they have succeeded, creating two generations that have little understanding of how our nation's government and laws work. Instead they push the idea that democracy (or at least American democracy) is something that is corrupt and should be avoided at all costs.

An unfortunate side effect of this has been ignorance of the very foundation of our laws – the United States Constitution.

All too often we'll hear many of these indoctrinated young adults act as if the First Amendment restricts the speech of those who disagree with their viewpoints.

How often have we heard of guest speakers being protested, or worse, being attacked because what they'll be speaking about is in diametric opposition to what these 'kids' have been spoon fed? They don't understand that freedom of speech is just that, freedom to speak one's mind. They don't have to agree with what someone might say. They may be offended by what someone might say. But it is everyone's right to speak freely. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say we have the right to not be offended. But to hear these ignorant young men and women, you'd think it was part of the First Amendment. This erroneous belief has led to 'speech codes' on college campuses that have been found to be unconstitutional every time they've been tested in court.

This is but one small symptom of the systematic neglect of our education system to teach our children civics, something they'll need in order to both understand and participate in our society. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. It is a road to tyranny.

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