Why does the year 1787 hold such importance in the history of the American people?
For most individuals, the correct answer ought to average around the ratification of the United States Constitution. However, if you go to Georgetown University and ask random people why 1776 is an important cornerstone in American history, the answers will make your skin crawl.
Through Campus Reform, a project of Leadership Institute, a reporter asked 54 random students on the street three questions about Independence Day. If the student answered all three questions correctly, then the student will receive a cash prize of $17.76. In total, only three students gave the correct answer to all three questions for a smashing success rate of 7% – three cheers for civics education.
Flipping through the pages of history, one can reflect on the importance of the new government in the United States circa 1787. The concept of limited government, checks and balances, and later on… a new Bill of Rights, all tout the new framework of government that various countries will adopt in the future. In the colonies, everyone dreamt of the opportunity to watch the legislators work on the new supreme document of the land. The Federalist Papers by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison advertised the need for the Constitution and why the American people ought to support the objectives of the Second Continental Congress.
How have Americans fallen victim to losing touch with the same passion for limited government that their forefathers fought with their lives to uphold from threats foreign and domestic?
While science, technology, and business have their own rightful place in the contemporary landscape of education in the United States, the balance and emphasis on communications, sociology, and government must not get tossed to the wind. Long gone are the days of respecting the grandmotherly advice of not investing all your eggs in one basket.
The most frightening aspect of the hidden educational deficit revolves around the idea of controlling mass populations. To quote the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, “an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” What kind of ailment would befall President Jefferson should he find the American citizens more interested in what they find at the bottom of their soy latte than the liberty he found in 1776?
Americans ought to realize, or remember, their government bases its foundation on civic participation. We The People now find solace in simplifying the American political process to a fantasy football league mentality. The title of an article can now provide an expert level of education for those “gotcha” points in debate. Political parties now support established status quos which fit a predetermined narrative. The media exacerbates and sensationalizes stories to the point where Occam’s Razor never enters the discussion. Whereas, some people think Washington, D.C. is on an island in the middle of the country.
Hopelessness is not the goal of my article, but an illumination on the problem of the invisible deficit Americans now face.
In American high schools, history teachers often cover several decades of information, yet students find no motivation to learn the story of the United States. Regardless of bias, teachers must find ways to make history “interesting” or “fun.” The title of a teacher does not hold a synonymous connotation with entertainer. History runs through a bottleneck with selective reduction of who, what, where, and when the history class will focus. I also acknowledge that teachers work with a deadline for the school year, but this argument does not hold relevance to my main point.
Students need to learn history, civic participation, and how the constitution affects their daily lives – among other subjects like financial literacy. When a nation forgets its history, they are doomed to repeat previous mistakes, and more importantly, succumb to the pressures of threats like unchecked government control and degenerate individual pursuits. A fundamental quote from the late United States president, Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction” emphasizes the need to cherish privileges Americans enjoy out of the sacrifice from our dearest blood. Before long, the strong American union will suffer great losses if the attitudes of our fellow Americans remain indifferent to the hardships and successes of our collective culture.
The problem of a Marxist-based curriculum like Critical Race Theory will force open a pre-existing fissure of race tensions in the United States, yet organizations like the National Education Association and Teachers’ Unions defend such instruction. The communists possess a brilliant plan to defeat America. Since the class division manifested the communist takeover in Russia circa 1917, a new fissure must serve as the vehicle to delegitimize the culture of the United States and turn fellow Americans against each other – or at the very least force them to view each other through the lens of race. The race conflict lies at the epicenter of the leftist agenda because, in most instances, communism tends to operate through the minority and only requires a few experienced activists to achieve its goals.
The simplification of history, coupled with the pure entertainment aspect of teaching, will continue to lower the academic bar for each future generation. Students might feel as if more information will enter their field of view; however, just because one sees more information does not equate to an increase in retention.
In the future, and the present, how will Americans stand for their values, when they do not know the history and origins of their values? How many Americans sacrifice their lives for a better future and safe country, when those at home care for the freedoms they enjoy?
A study by Lincoln Park Strategies, a national full-service analytics firm, found that out of a random sample of 1,000 people, only 36% passed the United States Citizenship test. A breakdown of these results indicates only 24% knew the correct answer as to why the colonists fought the British and 72% of the respondents failed to name the 13 original states. The final verdict: memorization of dates, names, and events woefully lock students on a path of indifference toward the history of American culture.
Looking forward, how do Americans understand their past or present government and how it interacts with their lives? According to the Pew Research Center, in a 2021 study, approximately 62% of Americans are in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage. The hidden asterisk within the study does not present itself at first; but when the minimum wage rises in the salary of Americans, the amount of taxation will also increase. The government views the increase in your salary as the green light to take the same percentage of your paycheck. The percentage may remain the same, but the amount of dollars taken from your paycheck will increase because the employer now must pay more to its employees. The government can use the false positive of an increased wage to concentrate more money in the federal government through increased taxation.
I feel like Americans have read this chapter before but in a different section of the same novel. The idea of increased taxation, control of religion, mercantilism, military supervision, and damaged Native American relations all contribute to the American Revolution, but only 24% of Americans can identify why the Colonies left the British Empire. The government may wrap the blade of taxation in silk, but a blade can still harm your wellbeing.
The civil service positions of the bureaucratic agencies in Washington, D.C. operate within the executive branch and out of sight from the citizenry of the United States. Rarely do high schools and colleges emphasize the parts of the executive branch. High schoolers think of the executive branch only as the president and not the State Department, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, etc. When the government controls the narrative of education or instructors decides to leave out critical information for students to know, the education system will process the next generation like processing plants prepare vegetables for the market – all you must do is pass the basic standards.
The college institutions of the United States lower the bar for civics education and now have the unique opportunity to reframe history or introduce falsehoods to students who are ill-equipped to tell the difference. A similar situation occurs in the media. The media tells you what to think about with setting the agenda, then sets the standards of evaluation through priming, and tells you how to think about it with framing. In terms of political expediency, influenced by social media and the instant gratification mindset, Americans will sacrifice their independent thinking abilities and adopt headline news for a basis of understanding. A current international issue at the front of news feeds concerns the civil unrest in Cuba. Within the images of protesting, American and Cuban flags fly alongside each other, but the liberal media claims such a symbolic gesture indicates the “oppressive” nature of American culture – the truth is exactly the opposite. In Hong Kong, Cuba, and Venezuela, those protesters holding the American flag believe in the freedom and opportunity most Americans take for granted or never acknowledge. However, the media and disruptive organizations like Black Lives Matter, contribute to the false narrative which claims Cubans protest American sanctions causing suffering under a communist government. The author of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, even claims Cuba earns the title of the most equal country in the West – perhaps equal in suffering.
The veterans of the American military also suffer from the indoctrination of the contemporary liberal education system. In another Campus Reform man-on-the-street interview, the reporter garnered 50 signatures for a fake petition to unrecognize Memorial Day because of its close ties to American imperialism. When the reporter asks the question, “why do we celebrate Memorial Day?”, the most common response ranges around “I do not know.” Some other responses focus on oppressive and imperialistic tendencies of American history because the subject educational institutions focus on revolves around the negative aspects of culture. When the population fails to educate itself, it becomes susceptible to suggestions.
A popular American radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey, gave a prediction for how the culture and society of the United States will evolve in the future – he titled the speech “If I were the Devil…”. Within the speech, Harvey talks about the first step to erode the United States. Such a first step will prey upon subverting the churches through a campaign of whispers and encourage the phrase “do as you please.” For the young, Harvey claims the best step will involve telling children the Bible is a myth and God, like a house, is man-made. After the first step, Harvey claims the next plan involves promoting lurid literature to make all other writings dull. Polarization, through the media, will contribute to sensationalizing divisive stories.
When Americans cannot think for themselves and have a political ruling class making the decisions for them, independence and free-thinking might as well be cast off in the wind like a failed commodity in the free market. The solutions to the problems of our ancestors shall almost certainly become the vices and qualms of the next generation, yet Americans have no idea what problems lay ahead from within the government. Many people trust in the government; however, if the government cannot balance its own budget… how can the government take care of you?
My article does not carry a design or structure to scare the reader, but to highlight the internal problem most people do not think about. The article comments on observations of ongoing, internal situations within the United States and possible avenues where the American culture can erode its foundation. The American population, with a submissive and subdued attitude to suggestion, now has an open fissure where socialism and communism can entrench themselves as an immediate solution to many problems.
To quote Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch philosopher and Christian scholar, “the main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth.”
Carter Moxley is a third-year student double majoring in Government and Corporate Communications with a minor in Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Off campus, Moxley has completed ten internships ranging from public policy, to government relations, and political communications training. During the 87th Texas Legislative Regular Session, Moxley served as a Clements Scholar at the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute and Undergraduate Fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. For the summer of 2022, Moxley worked in Washington, D.C., with The Fund for American Studies as a Liberty + Learning Fellow and a committee member for the Braver Angels Debate summit. Formerly, Moxley worked as the Energy Policy Intern for the Life:Powered intiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. In January 2023, Moxley will report to Texas State Senator Kevin Sparks’ office to take on the role of Legislative Intern and focus on state energy policy. Moxley is also a proud Texas Boys State Counselor during the summer, which functions as a non-partisan camp for high school statemen to learn about the importance of civic participation. In his downtime, you can find Moxley spending time with family and friends, or relaxing with his dog, Link.