Patterico's Pontifications - For instance, they understand the constitution better than you do. Indeed that was why it was pointless to read it on Congress, or so the liberal spin goes.
Um, except for this. Richard Brake of Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s National Civic Literacy Board announced the results of their test in basic knowledge of the constitution. They had been doing this for years with embarrassing results, but the innovation this years is they asked participants if they ever held elective office in the state or federal government and then compared those results to the general populace.
You know where this is headed, right? From the article:
* Only 49 percent of elected officials could name all three branches of government, compared with 50 percent of the general public.
* Only 46 percent knew that Congress, not the president, has the power to declare war — 54 percent of the general public knows that.
* Just 15 percent answered correctly that the phrase “wall of separation” appears in Thomas Jefferson’s letters — not in the U.S. Constitution — compared with 19 percent of the general public.
* And only 57 percent of those who’ve held elective office know what the Electoral College does, while 66 percent of the public got that answer right. (Of elected officials, 20 percent thought the Electoral College was a school for “training those aspiring for higher political office.”)
And what is more frightening is… well, look at the quiz for yourself. This is multiple choice. For instance, consider this question on “Wall of Separation:”
6) The phrase that in America there should be a “wall of separation” between church and state appears in:
A. George Washington’s Farewell Address
B. the Mayflower Compact
C. the Constitution
D. the Declaration of Independence
E. Thomas Jefferson’s letters
If you guessed randomly, you would have a 20% chance of getting it right. Regular folks guessing it right 19% of the time is roughly in line with that. But public officials are apparently not only ignorant of where that phrase comes from, but positively misinformed. Thus Christine O’Donnell is vindicated (and WaPo/AP, I am still waiting for you to acknowledge your mistake rather than pretend you never made it).
So the answer is we need more constitution reading, and not less.