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Friday, January 22, 2021

The three branches of government, a lesson in civics

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I often marvel that people who make ignorant comments or blatantly wrong statements often do it loud and proud.

I thought about this when I read about Tommy Tuberville, a new senator from Alabama and former Auburn University football coach. It seems Tuberville didn’t know the three branches of government in the United States. I’m sure he knows them now after being a national laughingstock. Tuberville thought the branches of government are House, Senate and executive (presidency). The three branches of government, legislative, judicial and executive, were taught — or should’ve been — in school. I may have learned them before my government class my senior year of high school, but I distinctly remember my government teacher Mrs. Gore discussing the three branches. The whole point of the class was to give soon-to-be high school graduates the information we needed to participate in democracy and live up to the civic duty expected from all Americans. Lessons about how politicians work diligently to suppress certain voters weren’t discussed.

I understand if regular folk don’t know or have forgotten the branches of government, but someone who is actually involved in government not knowing this information is shameful and embarrassing. Tuberville isn’t even educated on the most basics of how our country works.

That wasn’t his only gaffe, though. Tuberville didn’t know what the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is, or that America fought against fascism not socialism during World War II. In fact, some of our allies were not only socialist but communist, i.e. the Soviet Union. (It’s not surprising he doesn’t know what fascism is given how many conservatives and Republicans are leaning toward fascism.)

Tuberville’s nonsense made me think about another Alabama resident, former State Rep. Ted Crockett. Crockett is the guy who said on national TV a Muslim can’t be sworn into the U.S. Senate because they have to swear on the Bible. When he was informed that you don’t, in fact, have to swear on the Bible, he looked dumbfounded. He was lost for words for a few seconds. 

Now, I don’t want stereotype Alabama residents as I don’t appreciate it when Indiana residents are stereotyped, but things aren’t looking good for the state. 

The truth is Tuberville and Crockett are indicative of a larger problem in this country. Many of us are ignorant of our history, current events in America and global events. Many of us just parrot what we’ve heard without giving it much thought. But we speak with authority, making us loud and wrong.

That ignorance is also why it’s easy to vote for other ignorant people. We get caught up in a cult of personality. Tuberville was a football coach in a football state. He had voters in the can based on that history. Donald Trump had automatic voters based on his real estate and business mogul persona. However, voting on these shallow points is immature. We, and I’m including myself, need to grow up when it comes to voting. We can’t get caught up in “liking” someone based on superficial qualities. Liking people is irrelevant. What is this person going to accomplish while in office and how will that benefit me? Will my taxes be raised or lowered? Will he or she create laws that reduce funding for education in my school district while benefiting others, etc.? Those are but a few examples of questions to ask.

We’re going to make mistakes and elect people who let us down, that’s not the point. My point is we need to make decisions based on information not feelings. At the very least those we vote into office should know their role in our government. It’s not asking too much to ask that they actually have a little knowledge of this country’s history and laws.

We have to do better.

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