Many Phi Beta Con readers might have seen the survey issued by the American Revolution Center recently. It contains the usual distressing evidence of ignorance, for instance that 60 percent of American adults believe that the right to vote is contained in the Bill of Rights, and 81 percent of Americans attributed the phrase “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” to George Washington, Barack Obama, or Tom Paine, not to Karl Marx.
The findings led the center’s president, Bruce Cole, to write, “Our society, our very existence as a free people, rests on our success in ensuring that all Americans understand our history, rights, and responsibilities, and pass this knowledge on to rising generations.”
There is another aspect to the survey worth noting, and it bears upon differences between Democrats and Republicans. One question reads, “To begin, how important is it for American schools to teach students about the history and principles of the American Revolution?” While 49 percent of Republicans stated “extremely important,” only 35 percent of Democrats did so. (The other categories were “very important,” “somewhat important,” and “not important.”)
Another question does, “How important is it that Americans know about the history and principles of the American Revolution?” While 48 percent of Republicans answered “extremely important,” only 39 percent of Democrats did so.