Ignorance Is Not Bliss

I have a theory about what happened a few days ago in Washington — you know, the agreement by the so-called "moderate" senators over judicial nominations (search).

We heard a lot of talk about the history of this country and Senate tradition. Can you guess why so many senators and many in the media got away with this talk? It's because we don't know the history of our own country the way previous generations did.

A recent survey by the Roper Organization found that college seniors flunk basic American history and that they know more about the cartoon characters Beavis and Butthead than they do George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Eighty-five percent of seniors surveyed in the top 55 colleges and universities in the United States received a grade of "D" or "F" on history questions drawn from a basic high school curriculum. Those questions included the basic principles of the Constitution.

So when senator so and so gets up and runs on about the grand history of the nation, the principles of the Constitution and the traditions of the Senate, he is likely to get away with it because a growing number of citizens aren't educated enough to know anything better.

Too many politicians rely more on your ignorance than their intelligence and they're avoiding scrutiny because sound arguments have been replaced with feelings and meaningless gibberish.

If we want our country to again reflect the ideas of the founders, we first have to know what those ideas were.

That means, fewer hours watching tabloid TV and more hours reading books. You do remember books, don't you?

And that's Column One for this week.

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Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America". Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.