With the 2020 presidential Election rapidly approaching and National Voter Registration Day on the mind, it is difficult not to reflect on the lack of knowledge many Americans have about the U.S. government. It is the shocking reality that Americans are, in general, poorly informed about basic constitutional provisions. For the greatest country in the world, it's quite honestly embarrassing that our citizens don't know the basics of our own government.
Research conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and cited in sources such as Business Insider concluded that...
Only one-fourth of Americans can successfully name all three branches of the American government.
Almost everyone is directly impacted by the actions of the federal government. However, most voters do not know how publicly elected offices function, how laws are passed, and how these actions that impact their life occur. People need to be informed about the government they are living under and voting for. In fact, it is the civic duty of Americans to understand the constitutional government. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor refers to the lack of civics education in America as the "quiet crisis in education."
At the bare minimum, 100% of the eligible voting population in American should be able to accurately identify the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial).
So, how can we start to educate our votes?
As a young voter, it is of the utmost importance to truly understand the governmental system we take part in. We need to be sponges and absorb as much information as possible. It is our civic duty as young voters to truly understand the offices that we are electing people to and how they impact our lives. Without this basic knowledge, it is almost impossible for us to make an informed decision.
Although it is difficult in our polarized society, let's make an effort to shape our own opinions. Let's be aware of our news sources and surround ourselves with information from both sides. We should not be voting on party lines without first doing our research. At the end of the day, young voters are the future of the voting population in America and therefore have the power to change the statistics.
While the worst thing you can do is not vote, the second-worst thing is voting without educating yourself first.