Saturday, July 21, 2007

YouTube/CNN Debates

Here's a link to a video question I created for the first YouTube debate.

It's about the sensitive subject of civic apathy, and the dangerous ignorance that flows from it -- a subject rarely discussed in our national political conversation, but must be lest we want to kiss off democracy as we know it.

For what is the proper role of the citizen in modern times? How informed and engaged do we really need to be? For some bleak statistics on the state of the American civic mind, check out the recent Pew study on "Public Knowledge of Current Affairs"

This study, along with a July 2 Newsweek survey, are just the latest statistical verifications of the dirty little secret in American politics -- the rampant civic ignorance among the vast majority of America's citizens. And the dismal test scores obtained in these surveys were in response to simple civics 101 type questions, like identifying the name of the Vice President or Speaker of the House. One can only imagine the scores if respondents were asked about the critical differences between competing energy policies or foreign policy strategies, or anything that actually tested a sufficient baseline of knowledge necessary to make truly informed votes for our political leaders.

So I thought I'd ask the candidates for president who among them has the courage to flip the mirror -- to challenge us, the people -- the citizen slackers -- and ask why so many of us are unwilling to invest the time and effort necessary to perform the full measure of our citizen responsibilities? And what the candidates might do to try to reverse the curse of civic apathy in America.

I don't expect to get an answer from them anytime soon. But I ask anyway.

What do you think should be done?

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