Friday, April 24, 2009

Civics 101

Greetings good citizen,

How are your civics skills? Today on the NPR show ‘On Point’ they had a congressman on who bemoaned the deplorable state of Civics education in our public schools.

How bad is this situation? Let’s ask that question a different way, how many of you know what the study of civics embodies?

If you’re old (like me) you remember it as one of the most deadly dry courses you were ever forced to sit through. If you’re old, few could blame you if you’d forgotten completely what the course was supposed to teach.

I didn’t encounter civics until the 9th grade…if it extended beyond that I remain ignorant because I’m a 9th grade dropout. I will say that civics, as a topic, didn’t appear on the GED exam.

When you get to college it is not civics anymore, civics at the college level morphs into ‘Political Science’.

Anyway, this congressman is of the opinion that government has become a ‘spectator sport’, and he wants the public schools to start teaching kids about their role as participants in the democratic process.

Sadly, this ‘role’ can be explained in a single sentence.

The ‘role’ delegated to non-officials under our system of government is to elect someone you have never met to make decisions about how you will live without ever consulting you.

Although on rare occasions you will be asked to vote directly on such critical issues like whether or not you support gay marriage…

Or you could be asked if you support the mandatory use of seat belts…our state voted down seat belt legislation four times in a row by more than a two to one margin…and we got a seat belt law anyway.

And they have the chutzpah to wonder why people don’t bother to vote!

While civics is the study of how government ‘works’, we have experienced repeatedly that ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ are two entirely different things.

Did any of us get the chance to vote on whether or not to go to war with Iraq?

If they held the vote on 9/12, it still wouldn’t have passed!

We could take that a step further and ask if we got to vote on the use of torture…but the ‘torturers’ would object to having to run to the polls every time somebody farted.

Which is why I will take pains here to point out that WE DON’T HAVE A DEMOCRACY! We live in a REPUBLIC!

The difference good citizen, the ‘subtle distinction’ here is who gets to decide for the rest of us.

Why is this important? Doesn’t our form of government work ‘okay’?

As we are seeing right now, it works ‘perfectly’ for those who get to decide…

Why do you suppose you are prevented from deciding ‘how you will live’ for yourself?

Quite frankly good citizen, the people (that decided for us) to institute a ‘Republican’ form of government believed you were TOO STUPID to decide such things for yourself.

The principal argument being that nobody would vote in favor of taxing themselves (to support government functions.)

Sadly, it turns out the founders were too stupid/greedy to figure out the obvious fix for that minor problem.

But only the founders got to vote and they saddled us with a system that purposefully excludes us from making any real decisions.

What use is it to teach the children about the functions of the various branches of government when they all take turns abrogating their responsibilities?

Does anyone doubt that the Judicial branch has been ‘out to lunch’ for the past twenty years?

Or that the power of the legislative branch has been usurped by various political appointees?

As we have seen repeatedly, the much vaunted and carefully crafted ‘checks and balances’ aren’t worth shit if nobody enforces them!

We, the voters, are supposed to be the ‘check’ on ‘spineless’ government…yet that’s not working ‘as designed’ either…thanks to the ‘electoral college’.

Then we have the deeply disturbing question of why we have an ‘opposition party’ if we are all in this together?

We could go on for hours about the ‘eternal struggle’ between labor and owners but without labor, ownership would be meaningless.

It’s my opinion that we never should have gone down that road, but hey, we didn’t get to decide…that decision, like so many others, was made for us.

Is this ‘crazy talk’? Our system was ‘so good’ that kings everywhere abdicated their thrones without a fight!

Understand the puzzle that presents? Why did the supreme rulers of all they surveyed just chuck it all to become ‘private citizens’?

Well, most of them stepped off their thrones and set up camp in their former treasuries!

Being a banker was much safer and far more profitable than being the ruler.

No irony should be lost as we see just who makes the decisions in a given nation…

Did you get to vote on bailing out the banks?

Civics would be important if you actually had a role in deciding how you were going to live. As it sits right now good citizen, you don’t have a role or even a choice, you only have the illusion of a role and the illusion of participation that can be yanked away from you on a whim…by those who do get to decide.

None are more enslaved than those who ‘think’ they are free!

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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