Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Do You Know the Constitution?

Poll of Americans shows some pretty dismal knowledge about our own Constitution.

Do You Know the Constitution?

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Yo, boss, know what Sept. 17 is?

BE: Constitution Day.

JB: Yep. The day in 1787 our Constitution was signed right here in Philadelphia. I'm impressed you know that.

BE: You forget how old I am. I covered it. But Constitution Day is being celebrated today, Sept. 16.

JB: You are one fact-filled editor!

BE: Only in my rare sentient moments.

JB: Anyway, the Annenberg Public Policy Center at Penn is releasing results of a national survey of 1,230 Americans that suggest not all of us are as well informed. Only 13% of those surveyed know when the Constitution was signed. The majority (55%) said 1776.

BE: Which is when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

JB: Right again, oh wise one. There were other miscues, too.

BE: Try me.

JB: What are the three branches of government?

BE: Lobbyists, campaign donors and the tea party?

JB: Funny guy. It's executive, judicial and legislative. But get this: only 38% of our countrymen could name all three.

BE: Did they survey only reality TV viewers?

JB: There's more. Just 37% know that a citizen cannot appeal a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

BE: Which is why George W. Bush was president.

JB: And while 15% correctly named John Roberts as U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, almost twice as many (27%) correctly named Randy Jackson as a judge on "American Idol."

BE: I would have said "Dancing with the Stars."

JB: Problem is, according to Annenberg Center Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson, "knowing how democracy works predicts civic participation."

BE: Yeah, well, that would explain a few things.

JB: And she says, "The nation should be troubled by the extent to which civic education is downplayed in its schools."

BE: I want my country back.

JB: You can read a report recommending action to improve all this right here.

BE: Maybe we should send a copy to one or two presidential candidates, wink, wink.

JB: Maybe to all of them. Grrr.




John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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