Land of the Free Home of the Blind
Political Illiteracy in America
There is little worse than the feeling of helplessness. As it builds within our consciousness we grow increasingly agitated, reminded of our own vulnerability to the outside world. As the feeling of helplessness expands, we construct a shield - an invisible barricade against the things we do not know and understand. For we fear that these things will hurt us. How is it possible that millions of Americans spend their entire lives fighting this feeling, sinking deeper into a sea of their own frenzied confusion? Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that these Americans do not realize their handicap. These Americans are politically illiterate.
American illiteracy has gained public attention in the past decade as being one of the more prominent disturbances to the educational system today. Illiteracy used to mean the inability to read and write. Yet, as society changed the definition of illiteracy has evolved to take on a broader meaning. Now he term illiteracy connotes a functional deficiency in any "specific skill or body of knowledge". Any type of illiteracy whether it is linguistic, numerical, technological, or political, isolates an individual and interferes with his or her ability to relate to society.
Political illiteracy is an issue that affects millions of Americans. It starts early in childhood and is perpetuated by the rapid de-emphasis of nationalism and the superficiality of a society governed by pop culture. Political illiteracy can be explained as the inability to comprehend past or present events of national concern in a political context. Simply put, this type of illiteracy defines both how we see our nation and how we see our own role within the nation. Political illiteracy is not merely understanding who the candidates are come election time. Rather, it encompasses all aspects of politics: public policy, laws and supreme court decisions, citizen rights, knowledge of current issues along with the understanding of past historical events. All of these categorizes have helped to shape America into its present state.
How many Americans can honestly say that they know enough to hold an intelligent discussion about the politics of America? This figure is probably far greater than any government official would care to acknowledge. Knowing what is going on in our country today is essential in establishing a promising future. Perhaps political illiteracy has sprung from the pace at which America has progressed in the 20th century. By the time America had risen to super power status, the average citizen had become too concerned with their individual lives to pay much attention to all that had transpired. The intricacies of our democratic system are overwhelming. Yet it seems as if the more change that takes place, be it social, political, or technological, the more disillusioned the American citizen becomes.
During childhood and all through primary and...