A newly released survey reveals that only just over a third of Americans are able to name the three branches of their government, while another third are unable to even name one branch at all.
The survey, conducted by Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, was released to coincide with Constitution Day this week. Sadly it revealed that relatively few Americans know anything about the separation of powers within government.
Little more than one third of respondents, 36 percent, were able to name all three branches of the U.S. government – the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. The same amount of Americans, 35 percent, were incapable of naming a single one.
The results also highlighted the fact that few Americans even know who is in control of their country.
When they were asked which party has the most members in the House of Representatives, only 38 percent correctly said the Republicans currently have the majority. A whopping 17 percent believe that the Democrats currently control the House. Even more depressingly, 44 percent responded that they have no clue as to who is in charge of the House. That figure is up from 27 percent on findings from 2011.
Moving to the Senate, again only 38 percent answered correctly by saying the Democrats currently have a majority. Even more got the answer wrong this time, as 20 percent said they believe the Republicans currently control the Senate. Most Americans, 42 percent do not know who controls the Senate, again up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011.
Given that Americans don’t know who is in charge of their government, why should they know or care about the processes of government? The survey found that only a quarter of Americans, 27 percent, know that a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate is needed to override a presidential veto.
Similarly, one in five Americans, 21 percent, incorrectly believe that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration.
The separation of powers underpins the US Constitution, with Article 1 Section I giving Congress only those “legislative powers herein granted”. The vesting clause in Article II of the Constitution places no limits on the Executive branch, stating that, “The Executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” Article III outlines how the Supreme Court holds “The judicial Power”.
“Although surveys reflect disapproval of the way Congress, the President and the Supreme Court are conducting their affairs, the Annenberg survey demonstrates that many know surprisingly little about these branches of government,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC). “This survey offers dramatic evidence of the need for more and better civics education,” Jamieson added.
The revelation that two thirds of Americans do not know basic facts about the control of their government is disturbing. But hey, who needs a brain full of information any more, right? I guess, once they’ve reached the front of the queue at the apple store, Americans can just ask Siri who the power lies with.
Crowd at 5th Ave Apple Store w less than 45 min to go. One Apple estimate has 4700 ppl lined up at area stores. pic.twitter.com/4cdv9o9g1l
— Ed Baig (@edbaig) September 19, 2014
Iphone line from my office. Lots of cheering pic.twitter.com/5Pg2eFzaTI
— Peter Heise (@HeisePete) September 19, 2014
Apple Store UWS line goes 3 blocks and wraps around another. One Apple employee said there were around "1000" people. pic.twitter.com/UK0kByzllX
— Eli Blumenthal (@eliblumenthal) September 19, 2014
My rough estimate: about 125 people now waiting in line at Upper West Side Apple Store for iPhone & growing. pic.twitter.com/qhA2ij40hE
— Ed Baig (@edbaig) September 18, 2014
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 19, 2014
The line for the iPhone 6 in NYC's Meatpacking District. 4 blocks long. pic.twitter.com/Zug9E5jykb
— Meredith Frost (@MeredithFrost) September 19, 2014
— Eli Blumenthal (@eliblumenthal) September 18, 2014
Found the end of the iPhone 6 line, 3 blocks away. Rumor has it that the new iPhone is, in fact, a phone. pic.twitter.com/p8Uc6K01VV
— Hockey Brunch in CHI (@HockeyBrunch) September 19, 2014
— Philip Tortora (@PhilipTortora) September 19, 2014
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.