Saturday is Constitution Day 2022. It commemorates the formation of the U.S. Constitution and its signing on September 17, 1787, by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The first three articles of the Constitution clearly divide the federal government into three branches – but the most recent Annenberg survey found that just 47% percent of Americans surveyed could name all three branches. And sadly, a quarter couldn't name a single one.
In addition, 26% of respondents could not name a single First Amendment guarantee.
Historian David Barton of WallBuilders is disappointed but not surprised. "You have 25% who can't name a single right in the First Amendment, and yet 23% say that the First Amendment guarantees you the right to own a pet. No, it doesn't," he notes.
Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
According to Barton, the American Constitution is perhaps the most unique document in history outside of the Bible.
"On Constitution Day this year, we're 235 years under the same piece of paper. The average length of constitutions in this world is only 17 years. So, we have something special – and we're not doing anything to try to preserve that," he laments.
Barton says it's not just average Americans who don't know what the nation's founding document says: according to the historian, almost half of elected officials cannot name the three branches of government either.
"You take an oath to uphold the Constitution; it's part of your civic oath as an elected official – and you don't even know what the three branches are?" he exclaims. "So, how do you preserve the separation of powers? How do you keep checks and balances?"
And while he acknowledges there are other pressing problems in the U.S. – e.g., crime, wokeness, and sexual perversion, to name a few – Barton says just addressing those problems is shortsighted.
"[If you just focus on those problems], what you're doing is rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic. What you've got to do to save the Constitution, which is the ship itself," he argues.