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Under Trump, Most Americans Lack Basic Knowledge to Understand Current Events, Study Finds

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tags: civics, Trump



When the public hears news of a travel ban proposed by Donald Trump being struck down in whole or in part by the courts, it should recognize the interaction between the executive and judicial branches of government and remember that freedom of religion is protected by the First Amendment. When the public reads about Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall, it should be aware that he cannot act unilaterally to make it a reality, but rather that he’ll need the legislative branch to provide funding. And when the public hears fiery rhetoric about deportation, it should be aware that even people who are in the United States illegally have the right to due process under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Unfortunately, many Americans lack fundamental civics knowledge, according to the recent Constitution Day Civics Survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, and therefore cannot understand current events. 

“In light of the information in the news about First Amendment issues, the ignorance of the public about the First Amendment is startling,” Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of APPC, tells Newsweek. “So there are times in which one needs knowledge about the Constitution to make sense of what's happening in the news environment,” she adds. “In particular when rights are at issue it's important that people understand what their rights are as they read the news.”

The recent Constitution Day Civics Survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found that many Americans don't know the answers to basic civics questions. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The results, published on September 12, reveal that more than half of Americans (53 percent) believe people in this country illegally have no protections under the Constitution. If that weren’t startling enough, only about a quarter (26 percent) of Americans can successfully name all three branches of government, with one-third of respondents unable to name a single branch, 27 percent who knew one branch and 13 percent who knew two.

Read entire article at Newsweek


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