Civic doody

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 6:50 PM | comments: 0

I don't know if others had this experience, but in grade school in the Cleveland school system, in the early 80's, we had something called citizenship lessons, which I suppose would be more broadly classified under the realm of social studies. As early as grade three, I remember learning about the Western Reserve, and how the townships in Northern Ohio were drawn out. Of course, there were lessons about the bigger issues of how the federal government worked, too, but I found it all very interesting, and it was probably some of the most practical knowledge I gained in school.

I assume that they still teach this stuff in school, but either there's a retention problem or people just don't care. I think one of the most critical things about government, and participation in it, is understanding how it works. If recent political discourse is any indication, people have no f'ing clue.

For example, we're all familiar with the usual nonsense ranging from, "Obama is gonna take my guns," to, "Cruz is gonna repeal Obamacare." You shouldn't need to be a constitutional scholar to know that there's a Constitution, or that Congress makes (and repeals) laws, not presidents. The basic principles about the three branches of government seem completely lost in the discussion.

It isn't much better at the local level. People don't seem to know or care about the various districts and municipalities they're in. When I lived near Cleveland, we were in six separate taxing districts (city, school, county, library, park and vocational school). Here, we're not even in an incorporated municipality, something lost by our neighbors who call city hall for the town that we share a zip code with. (You would think as a homeowner one would want to know who they're paying taxes to, and what local issues will come up in the elections.)

My intention here isn't to say, "What a bunch of morons." I'm just frustrated that people won't engage at a basic level to understand their surroundings. I don't want to live in the movie Idiocracy.

(Sidebar: There's a certain irony that the immigrants that so many people don't want actually learn this stuff to become citizens.)


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