1. Most Americans believe the problem is with the politicians of the opposite party they support. Simple.

    They vote in a primary.

    However, when the Democratic voters give up, they don’t even do that—for example, the most previous election.

    How can you recommend a solution if you don’t understand the problem? But, in our case, if the American citizens can’t understand why our society is failing the people and planet, then we’ve got real issues.

    Whose role is it to inform the people?

    A “free and independent press.”

    We don’t have that and haven’t had that for a very long time. We’ve been propagandized since birth. We don’t even know the truth, and when we hear it, we dislike it because it makes us feel bad.

    Only the truth can set you free…

  2. Yes, civic education is an important part of the equation, but equally important it the complacency factor; that there are many who know but just can’t be bothered to take action. An article in The NY Times yesterday about a small town in New Hampshire is a great example of how easy it is to take it for granted that government will continue to function as it always has, and how that complacency can become an opportunity for a bad actor to gain power and influence.
    If the actions of the right wing of the GOP and the Supreme Court are not a wake up call to all freedom-loving Americans, I do not know what is.

  3. Sheila,

    Now I’m going to sound like a broken record. IMHO the US is in a catastrophic slide into a Fascist Theocracy lead by the ignorant fundies/evangelicals. They don’t have a clue about the teachings of The Christ and really don’t care or want to. Turn the other cheek you say? Naw, I’ll just unload on him with my trusty AR-15 assault rifle protected by the God given US Constitution. And the band plays on.

    Sound pessimistic? Well I am so much so that I have departed the US and I do not have any reason to return. The US I grew up in is gone. Destroyed by a reactionary/fascist party that doesn’t have a clue how to govern. Evidence #1, DJT. #2 is McTurtle. If you live in a Purple state get out NOW!

  4. ABC News, July 7, 2022: “Across 31 states, about two-thirds of voters who have switched their official party registrations in the past year have switched to the Republican Party, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The phenomenon is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump.

    Nowhere is the shift more pronounced — and dangerous for Democrats — than in the suburbs. Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Pittsburgh. Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Des Moines, Iowa.”

    This same report can be found on PBS News Hour and other trusted media sources; of course Fox News is reporting this truth.

    “The American Constitution was a product of the Enlightenment, the 18th Century philosophical movement that gave us science, empirical inquiry, and the “natural rights” and “social contract” theories of government.”

    “Before enlightenment we chopped wood and carried water; after enlightenment we chopped wood and carried water.” The same basics apply in this electronic age where we have become accustomed to having information at our fingertips and immediate gratification via credit cards but those bills always come due. We have been handed a “FINAL NOTICE” by Republicans which obviously millions of Americans expect President Biden to immediately pay off and return us to conditions here prior to being destroyed by Trump. They are picking up their marbles and taking them to the Republican party to show Joe Biden their displeasure at his following laws, rules, regulations and the Constitution…trying to save us from ourselves. Their “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”, “instant gratification” and “me first” political games are going to destroy us; NOT at some distant future date but on November 8, 2022 when they return House and Senate to the domestic terrorists and put Trump back in our White House on January 20, 2025. Sign carrying protest marchers will be in the cross hairs of mass shooters, supported by all branches of American government. And Sheila is right that the lack of civic literacy has brought us to this level of disaster; this government and this country wasn’t built in a day or a decade or a century, but Trump has managed to destroy most of it and the public trust in government in less than 6 years. President Biden cannot rebuild what has been lost in 19 months. Have you ever watched the implosion of a building?

    “Widespread civic ignorance has allowed dishonest partisans to rewrite history, pervert our basic institutions, and ignore the rule of law– not only undermining the Constitution but eroding the trust essential to the maintenance of democratic institutions.”

  5. Here is a case in point, the NYT’s poll managed by Nate Cohn for election 2024 states:

    “Many Democrats — both politicians and voters, especially on the party’s left flank — also seem more focused on divisive cultural issues than on most Americans’ everyday concerns, like inflation.

    “The left has a set of priorities that is just different from the rest of the country’s,” Nate said. “Liberals care more about abortion and guns than about the economy. Conservative concerns are much more in line with the rest of the country.”

    I completely disagree with Nate’s assessment and from what I am seeing, in reality, is a huge push for third-party candidates and socialists on the left who appeal to voters’ real concerns. Not just on the coasts, but in big cities as well.

    I have no idea where Nate gets his numbers but I call propaganda bullshit. Guns and abortions are issues because they are in the news cycle whereas the economy is avoided unless it is going strong. In fact, the oligarchic-controlled news is intentionally avoiding the economic realities in favor of social issues to distract people because it works.

    That’s what these “polls” at the New York Times show and they reinforce the propaganda. The manipulations are never ending.

  6. Left…Right…this…that… Let’s all do what Stan says and run away to a safer, more politically stable country. That way we don’t have to bow our necks and work to save the Constitution from the vagaries of capitalism.

    That capitalism is also dictating what is taught in schools. Why? So they can KEEP the population ignorant. Ignorant people – no matter whether they have college degrees or live in the suburbs – will vote for people who say they will cut their taxes and eliminate mandatory civic discipline. Look at the police violence.

    Well, I witnessed, first-hand, why our civic illiteracy is so rife. Civics teachers in high school are too often coaches of sports where the emphasis is on winning. Many of my former students have told me that their daily civics class amounted to the coach/teacher putting a video up while he/she worked on their coaching paperwork at their desks. No class discussion. Little interaction between teacher and students. Study to the test, the document that saved everyone’s jobs. The No Child Left Behind irony can’t be revisited often enough. It was, of course, a Republican initiative designed specifically to attack teachers and teachers unions.

    So, broken records…? You bet. Even Todd’s broken record has some merit twice a day…like a broken clock.

  7. While I agree that the decline of the education of civics in public schools is a major problem, I think there is much more to it than that. Other points that should be made are:
    1. Legislative control of public education that has effectively abandoned the concept of a well rounded education in favor of a focus on standardized tests for language and math.
    2. The loss from this refocusing of education is the reduction in teaching the ability to think independently in a critical way. This has led to the widespread acceptance of absurd conspiracy theories and anti-science beliefs such as the anti-vaccine movement which has enabled hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths in the US.
    3. The political right has been making a huge effort to delegegitimize public education, with what appears to have the long term goal of refunding public education by transferring state funds to private schools, especially to Christian fundamentalist schools. The perversion of civics education to the purposes of right extremism will be severe, so that civics education will be twisted to further the destruction of real democracy.
    4. I fear that the benefit of reinstituting civics education, even if it is done correctly, will come to late for pour democracy. After gerrymandering leads to the primacy of the legislature over the political process, which could be achieved as soonn as next year through the action of the activist conservative majority of the Supreme Court, will the implementation of civics education be able to do anything about it?

    Unfortunately, I could go on, but I can summarize by saying that while civics education is definitely desired, will it help soon enough in these desperate times?

  8. Todd; you have entirely missed the point, the issue is the Supreme Court’s DECISIONS regarding abortions and guns. I know of no cases coming before SCOTUS on inflation; fortunately for all of us. Conditions in the current Supreme Court are more damaging to this country than inflation. We have lived through inflation, with great difficulty, but we survived. Dead pregnant woman from forced pregnancies and dead mass shooting victims do not survive. Our everyday concerns are just that; EVERY DAY concerns. That is the meaning of the old adage, “Before enlightenment we chopped wood and carried water; after enlightenment we chopped wood and carried water.” My monthly bills came regularly before Trump and before Roe vs. Wade was overturned and gun rights upheld by SCOTUS, they continue coming today and will be left for my son to pay when I die. Can’t even die to get away from those every day concerns.

    I unfortunately am one who never had a Civics class but as I follow Sheila’s information and what is going on around me, I believe the unspoken lesson from Civics classes is to think beyond the box. With stress on the word THINK.

  9. The Republic has been lost to powerful oligarchs & a small elite class for years. Many Americans (and I mean a LOT) simply don’t see strong-man autocracy as being worse. And def a better alternative than a government run by libs and non-whites.

    Yesterday Chuck Todd said Americans cannot stand a Trump conviction. I don’t think he could be more wrong but that a prominent talking head of MSM even said that tells me our country is terribly ill-equipped to withstand a sustained assault on its form of government.

    If I’m right we’ve already lost. Let’s hope I’m not.

  10. You can’t teach those unwilling to learn. By my count that would be roughly 74 million Americans who voted for 45, knowing what he was like. They cheered him on because he was sticking it to the libs. We need to find a way to bring these people back from the void, before we can start teaching civics.

  11. As for switching parties in the primary, In Indiana we don’t have party registration. In the primary, you just have to ask for a Democrat or Republican ballot regardless of your party affiliation. I live in and have almost always lived in a heavily gerrymandered district that is solidly democrat. On several occasions I have voted in the Republican primary, mainly to try to influence the some of the statewide republican choices, and in my case trying for the more moderate candidate.

    So there are good reasons to switch your voting in the primary. There are also bad reasons to switch your vote in the primary, and that is to try to move forward the most repugnant and toxic person on the ballot. That kind of move is a double edged sword.

    I don’t know what might be going on in the states were people are switching to the Republican party in the primaries, but I suspect it is not that all of those people are planning on voting republican in the fall.

  12. Dan; if you are referring to my comments about party switching, the article was not about the Primary. Voters are switching their official party registrations in states where that is required.

  13. My broken record plays….read “Teaching as a Subversive Activity” – Postman and Weingartner – super case for teaching critical thinking….

    Not the focus now even in the “best” schools. No, we want STEM folks who can make good money, have a great time and be totally disengaged from civic responsibility.

  14. I can’t leave my country.
    It would be tandamount to leaving my kids and never coming home.
    Leaving my community would be the coward’s way out. Whatever mistakes our country has made, I still owe it to my neighbors to continue to ‘fight the good fight’ and advocate for strong public schools (with real civics teachers and not just coaches), safe, adequate housing, affordable healthcare and a cleaner environment.
    Do I sound like a politician or a concerned mom, grandma and neighbor?
    “Love one another,” isn’t just a verse from the bible.

  15. For people who feel like Beth…perhaps, we will indeed become the “Not so United States of America – Blue and Red Divisions” or two countries with a single diplomatic corps/armed forces: “Liberal America” and “Conservative America”?

    Beth, would you really be “comfortable” living in a USA with Trump/DeSantos/the like running the Executive, the current SCOTUS and a GOP majority House and Senate. Would your local efforts allow you to sleep at night?

  16. Some background > All is not lost – yet. Not all those who lived through the Enlightenment were enlightened. The basic problem however civics is taught is mistrust of government which, ironically, Republicans cheer as a means of first destroying and then taking over government and fashioning it to suit their own political and economic ends.

    A good example of trust in government can be found today in the Nordic countries and during FDR’s New Deal when, after a hair-raising Great Depression, the gentry were persuaded that the government finally cared for them and not just those in the recently concluded Gilded Age. Reagan after some fifty years destroyed the New Deal and effectively returned us to the pre-New Deal days, reinstating mistrust of government fanned later by the likes of Gingrich with his Contract for America and other such propaganda designed to return us to Hoover economics.

    It worked, so here we are. However, I don’t think Wall Street and their political handmaidens reckoned that a know-nothing real estate broker would intervene in their Republican takeover with his fascist-tinged and dictatorial views supported by deluded millions since, after all, their takeover was only designed to support a Second Gilded Age. It was only about money and the power needed to remove impediments to their ease in making and keeping their loot.

    So will some of the grim predictions today of a return of Trump by the deluded and beat the libs crowd come about? I think not, and with the overturn of Roe, I think chatter of changing parties for primaries or even generals will be swept away by Republican women this fall. With such a two for one assist (one we get and one the Republicans do not get) the result may still depend upon the usual metric, i. e., Democratic turnout. Our mantra? VOTE!

  17. I like to watch people. I spent last night in a crowd of average Americans at a music event. A happy occasion. I talked to a bunch of them. My conclusion? Many struck me as having prepared for life in another era, the era that they grew up in, and they have grown increasingly less prepared for where the world is now, but importantly, as the speed of change keeps increasing, even more unprepared for what’s coming. Great people, but a little bewildered by the scope and speed of progress.

    Their “druthers”, I’m sure, would be to return to the times that they would be more comfortable in, for both solid and trivial reasons. Is it surprising that basically unsatisfied people will follow the promise of a more supportive environment for themselves and their families? They are ripe for political picking.

    Also, it seemed clear that their focus was on themselves and their families, and they seemed likely to prefer to change others rather than themselves. More ripeness.

    Enter Tucker Carlson and all of the acts that proceeded him in giving these people possible salves for their problems. Possibilities.

    The question in my mind is how likely is it that a return to their worlds will actually deliver on the aspirations of our Constitution now interpreted by politicians serving them including the politically appointed Justices in SCOTUS?

    Trouble for the country is brewing and it won’t be a civil war. It will be surrendering our position of influence in the coming world and all of our economic advantages.

    In North America, we will likely become economically and politically like Mexico more than Canada. Especially as unmitigated climate change relocates population towards the poles and away from equatorial heat and local rising sea levels.

  18. Todd,

    Nice pic.

    Everyone has valid points here, and I might even include myself in that group lol! But Vernon makes a really good argument concerning civics. This is what happens when you take things for granted and figure the government will do the right thing? Oversight keeps people honest for the most part. Without oversight, those honest people usually don’t stay that way.

    The right has always complained about the dumbing down of america! As in everything they’ve been up to, they project their shenanigans on everyone else. So, if you want to know what they are up to, just listen to what they say. They’ll project their MO loud and proud. The folks who actually research or pay attention, aren’t so easily duped. So many of the ignorant prefer to be told what to believe. Those folks are the dangerous ones! Those are the lemmings, those are the ones whose umbilical cords are attached directly to the crap sack. Crap in, manure out! They search for hidden messages to take action, even if there is no message in particular. Probably eating way too much McDonald’s! Their brains are pickled lol.

    Oh wait, was that a conspiracy theory? 🤣

  19. I do not know about people going around switching party allegiance, but would not be surprised if the reports of same are
    simply a new ploy on the part of the GOP to try to discourage DEM voting. I put nothing past the GOP nowadays.
    HCR put out a very telling piece,overnight,as it were, that is high on education about the ongoing effects of the Reagan
    economic platform. She did not, nor did you, Sheila, refer to one of the the possibly most corrosive (es.p. in regard to Civics)
    soundbites of his misbegotten time in the limelight: “Government is the enemy!”
    I was, still am, a bit, tempted to send her piece to my apparently old fashioned Republican neighbor, with whom I have had a
    thus far useless dialogue about politics. But, I expect that he will simply send me another suggestion to watch Faux News, and
    Sheila, I do not tire of your diatribes, but I am very tired of McConnell’s single handed ability to sabotage much needed, reasonable
    legislation. He, and the apparently much forgotten John Boehner, took the old GOP through the ringer, and produced the new
    GOP, imho. I recall a retiring Republican member of the house, many years ago, saying that they, or Boehner himself, had strongly
    discouraged Republican members from even having lunch with Democratic members. And, that this was a big part of why he was
    retiring. OOOPS! There goes another piece of Biden’s beloved bipartisanship.
    I’m reading “The Dawn of Everything, A New History of Humanity,” and saw a related discussion between Micjael Schermer and Kevin
    McCaffree, last night, so, trying to take the long view, what we are going through may just be a swing of the pendulum in this admittedly
    young country, but I just do not feel that optimistic.

  20. Pete,

    Thanks for the “real thoughts from real people” report.

    “Is it surprising that basically unsatisfied people will follow the promise of a more supportive environment for themselves and their families? They are ripe for political picking.” They are also ripe to move to someplace where there are people like themselves.” There are already stats about “blue people moving to blue places” and vice-versa like never before…

    “Also, it seemed clear that their focus was on themselves and their families, and they seemed likely to prefer to change others rather than themselves. More ripeness.” Indeed, to turn off from “politics” and activism and ….voting.

  21. A quibble: the Enlightenment did not bring us science. For that, we can thank the Greeks, Arab mathematicians and astronomers and medical folk, as well as the Chinese and a lot of other curious people over the ages. Even Newton stood on the shoulders of giants.

  22. Max. True that.

    What the Enlightenment brought to all bodies of knowledge was the preeminent value of evidence and recognition that evidence based thinking is the most reliable approach to problem solving.

  23. Max, I’d say that the Enlightenment _changed_ science, put it on the path to our modern understanding of it.

    I also preach education as a solution. (I am biased, of course, as there are a lot of teachers among my relatives, including both parents, a grandmother, aunts, uncles, and myself.) Personally, I see the critical value of education less as the knowledge obtained–although that’s certainly important–and more as the process and practices that it instills in the pupils. For example, a university education involves learning how to _really_ research topics. One learns to understand and recognize bias (our own, especially), evaluate arguments, investigate sources, and much, much more. It feels to me that the GOP looks at education for the outcome only, as though they want their “educated” people to have been presented with just enough knowledge to be good workers for the rich people, and not a jot or smidge more. And the less time spent on critical analysis the better.

    A big problem is that Fox News (and others) has spent the last 20 years convincing their audience that education is terrible, and that they should distrust the entire field. How can you honestly argue with someone who disbelieves you _because_ you have knowledge in the subject? The Fox audience has been taught that people in the education field all have ulterior (and sinister) motives, so you mustn’t trust ’em!

    The projection is incredible.

  24. Perhaps such propaganda as a Reagan “Government is the enemy,” a Gingrich “Contract with America,” a Trump “I alone can fix it” along with the finishing touches of a Hannity on Fox there is more than a civically unprepared and gullible populace can be reasonably expected to digest and understand. Our task? Keep pounding the facts and truth at anyone who will listen in the hope that such listeners will see the light – and it won’t be easy given the hostility right wing politicians have instilled in their trumpers. Screaming makes few converts.

  25. In Florida, many people are switching to Republican in order to have any say at all in many races where there is no real Democrat on the ballot

    For those of you wondering how Mitch got so powerful that he can always count on 49 down the line followers, may I suggest that he knows where ALL the bodies are buried and he’s not afraid to use that knowledge. He’s the old fashioned political boss. Crooked as a dog’s hind leg and as ruthless as they come.

  26. Thank you for this clear sadly necessary societal call-out. I always enjoy and am enlightened by your thoughtful and well-reasoned missives, right up there with Heather Cox Richardson and Robert Hubbell – you are a daily “must read”.

    Yes, am quite saddened by the seemingly predominant low IQ and low EQ trend of our society. To me the chasm is not so much Dem vs GOP but rational intellectualism/humanism/collective thinking for the greater good of all vs unbridled capitalism/fundamentalism/toxic individualism. The latter fed daily by Sham news networks and toxic social media.

    Praying for a backlash big blue wave that even gerrymandering can’t stop.

  27. Lester,
    You know NOTHING about me.
    I stood up to a 250 lb Big Ten linebacker when I was a slip of a woman to protect my four kids.
    I am not a coward.
    Life makes demands on the people who stand firm.

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