Frightening Statistics On How Little Americans Know About Our History: It’s truly frightening to know how many Americans don’t know the Constitution. Their unfamiliarity with the Constitution has bred contempt. If put to a vote today, only half of those surveyed said they would vote to adopt the Constitution. Even fewer believe that Congress should follow the Constitution. Tune in today to find out why so few people understand the Constitution.
Air Date: 05/27/2019
Guest: Tom Jipping
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is Wall Builders Live! Where we talk about today’s hottest topics on policy and faith and the culture.
We’re always approaching those topics from a biblical historical and a constitutional perspective.
We’re here with David Barton America’s premier historian and our founder at Wall Builders, and Tim Barton is with us. He’s a national speaker and pastor, and he’s president of WallBuilders.
My name’s Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator. You can find out more about us and our program at WallBuilderslive.com, and I encourage you to look at the archives section, where you can listen to programs over the last few months. There’s a wealth of information in there.
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Is America Turning Into A Nation Of Dunces?
If you consider that we greatly appreciate it check it out at while WallBuilderslive.com. Alright guys, our topic today is at the center of this faith and culture. Maybe in this way a collision because our education system has gotten so bad that the American people are becoming what Tom Jipping calls it – he’s questioning, is America turning into a nation of dunces?
We’re going to have him on later from The Heritage Foundation to talk about this article. Guys, I mean, we see stats all the time that scarce us about what people don’t know about the founding of the country and the Constitution.
This article had stuff in it I had not heard before, and it really is scary. We’ll have a link so folks at home can read the entire article. But we’ve been talking about this stuff for years.
David, that’s why you started Wall Builders; was to get educated about the founding principles and man I’m looking at this and (I’m) going, we’ve got some challenges ahead.
Our Federal Judges & Judge Judy
Well, let me just read part of what he said in the article. He said, what do we need in our federal judges? And that’s a good question. We have very different and very opposite philosophies on the court right now, and you shouldn’t have that.
I mean judges, they take an oath to uphold the Constitution. That’s a pretty easy document read 20 minutes to read it. What’s so hard about that? Any citizen can understand that and yet we have opposite decisions. So we have worldviews in conflict. I think Tom really hit the cause of it, he said what we need in our federal judges.
He said Last year the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that only one-quarter of Americans can name all three branches of government, and a third cannot even name one single branch of government. It says a 2016 poll by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni revealed that 10 percent of college graduates, college graduates, believe that Judge Judy was on the U.S. Supreme Court. Tim:
Wait a sec. Now that’s scary.
People Don’t Know What The Judges Are Suppose To Do
Here’s his conclusion – Folks who don’t know what the judicial branch is are unlikely to know what judges are supposed to do and that’s exactly right. If you don’t even know how many branches there are then, you sure don’t know what the branches are supposed to do. If you don’t know who’s on the court and you can’t tell the difference between a T.V. judge and a real U.S. Supreme Court judge. Oh my gosh, how do you know what judges are supposed to do or not? We really are in a dangerous position with this.
We Think Socialism Is About Social Media And Sharing
Well and you know guys we talk about this a lot. Even off-air, you can go around the culture, and you see this. You have 75 percent of college students who currently support socialism as an economic system they think is sustainable. And when asked to define it, some of the top answers that are heard either deal with social media or with sharing. That’s how they think socialism is defined? We are a nation of dunces.
They’re saying I support socialism because I like social media?
When asked to define socialism, they thought it had something to do with social media.
Of course, they like social media, so they would like socialism.
Why wouldn’t you like it or sharing because socialism is sharing and sharing is caring, and we should all care, and we should all share.
College Students Have No Idea What America Is
They have such backward ideas of socialism, and these are what studies are continuing to find; that kids literally have no idea how to define things.
Last year, we were doing a T.V. program, and we did one on the Fourth of July. In order to find out what people really knew about the Fourth of July or about the founding fathers we went and did some man on the street interviews, and we would ask, hey so who did we fight against in the American Revolution? And people didn’t know it was the British. When do we celebrate the 4th of July, like what year did that happen? They didn’t know it was 1776. How many people signed the Declaration? Nobody knew it was ’56. You go down the list of things.
I remember one girl that answered all the questions right.
Well, there was one girl who got basically everything right except she wasn’t an American.
It was her first day in America. She was from Russia, and she knew more about America’s history being from Russia than any American we asked on the street.
In her defense, she actually was studying to become a legal immigrant in America. She wanted to move to America. She was an I.T. professional, and so she was studying, and so she was learning things about America that nobody else we talked to was able to get.
It Is A Reflection Of The Education System
It’s astounding what we don’t know but guys we’ve talked about this we see this in culture on a frequent basis. In the summer, we work with young people and when we see young people coming in, and it’s their first time being with us the Patriot Academy or they’re coming to a leadership training program that never been before. We can ask some very base level questions that used to be elementary level questions, and earlier generations of America and people just don’t know this, and I don’t blame young people because it’s a reflection of the education system.
But as an adult there comes a point when you think, OK you should take some responsibility and learn something, but this is just where we are in America.
I think Tom shipping really does a good job of putting his finger on it. Tom, a good friend. We’ve done a lot of legal stuff together. He’s now The Heritage Foundation and the article he wrote on this is really good.
OK, we’ll have a link for the article. People who want to read the entire article they can it’s really great. And then Tom is actually going be with us after the break to talk about it so stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. American Patriot Paul Revere road to alert Americans of the impending arrival of the British. But, he also sought patriot leader Samuel Adams and John Hancock to warn them that the British were seeking their execution.
Adams and Hancock were staying with the Reverend Jonas Clark in Lexington. When they asked Pastor Clark if his church was ready for the approaching British, he replied, “I’ve trained them for this very hour. They will fight and, if need be, die under the shadow of the house of God.”
Later that morning, 70 men from his church, and several hundred British in the first battle of the War for Independence. As Pastor Clark affirmed, “The militia that morning were the same who filled the pews of the church meeting house the Sunday morning before.”
The American church was regularly at the forefront of the fight for liberty. For more information on this pastor and other Colonial Patriots go to WallBuilders.com.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here at WallBuidlers Live. Tom Jipping is back with us from the Heritage Foundation.
Tom, always good to have you, man. Thanks for your time again today.
Tom: Thanks for having me back.
It Is A Sad State Of Affairs
Hey, a fantastic article I guess last month a few weeks ago came out is America turning into a nation of dunces. I got to tell you Tom’s I read through this paragraph after paragraph I was getting a little bit depressed. This is pretty sad this state of affairs. These are college graduates you’re talking about in this article.
Well a lot of them, 10 percent of college graduates think that Judge Judy is currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court. You know some of those poll findings some of them seem kind of funny. Some of them might be kind of depressing, but it is a very serious situation when you consider that the kind of system of government that we have requires informed involved citizens.
I mean the people are supposed to be in charge of the government. And if you’re an employer, you can’t evaluate your employees unless you know what they’re supposed to be doing. The same thing is true on a national scale as well.
We Require Informed, Involved Citizens
Well, you said it quite well in the article if I could quote your very last paragraph real quick.
You said Jefferson said that a nation cannot expect to be both ignorant and free. And so you went on to say for the sake of our nation and our personal freedom, it’s essential that we get back to teaching the basics of American civics. We are failing the founders Tom you’re so right about this.
What do you think when you look at how broad this ignorance of our founding documents, how bad it is? It’s kind of across the landscape. What do you see as solutions? I mean, obviously, the basic education system is failing. Where do you start?
This Is An Urgent Problem
Well, the fact that you asked the question that way shows how serious this is. I will say it’s not that this is a very recent problem like in the last 10 years. I mean, I’ve seen studies and analysis of pollings and other things going back almost 40 years showing that this has been a very serious decline.
I think it starts with an urgency that it needs to be done. In other words, it’s not just an optional thing for people to know more stuff. This is essential for our system of government to work the way it’s supposed to and for us to receive from that system of government what it’s designed to give us.
Ignorance About The Judicial Branch Is The Worst
I know that you folks out WallBuilders, you’re very attuned to what the judicial branch is doing and that’s where this ignorance I think is manifesting itself the most. (People think) That it’s easy to appoint political judges when people don’t understand that the judicial branch is supposed to be different than politics. So it starts with an urgency that this is a very real thing with very real consequences. And that’s going to hopefully start people thinking creatively as to how to make some progress.
It’s a really waking people up to realize it’s this isn’t just some hypothetical or even a philosophical discussion of what the intelligence of a nation should be. This has real on-the-ground, it affects your family, your house, your backyard, your community consequences whenever the nation is this ignorant about what produces freedom and what to look for in leaders; it’s going to impact your life.
Getting average Joe to realize that that hey it’s not just my own knowledge it’s the knowledge of my neighbors that really does matter.
We Need To Explain The Constitution To The Masses Again
That is challenging. I will say because let’s face it – we have a very prosperous country, we have you know a standard of living that even-even poor people in America live better than most people in the rest of the world. So getting people to see that there is a problem can be a challenge.
But think of it this way: when America’s founders established our system of government, they had written the Constitution- what did they do to get that Constitution ratified?
Well, they wrote essays explaining the Constitution and they published them in newspapers. They didn’t publish them in some treaties that only lawyers would read. We call them the federalist papers now, but they were essays explaining the Constitution with the hope that your average citizen would understand it embrace it and support it. We’ve got to do the same thing today.
Tom, I’m with you brother. You’re so right. We think that these discussions should just be ivory tower like you’re saying some treaties that only a certain group of people in a certain camp. This has got to become you know Facebook posts and whatever the medium is for today to get to our neighbors and everyone around us.
Our Constitution Is The Shortest In The World
You know I saw a poll that said 26 percent of Americans believe that only lawyers can understand the Constitution. Now I went to law school. I took two courses in constitutional law and never had to read the Constitution.
I can tell you lawyers are probably less able to understand the Constitution than normal people. We need to get people to realize that our Constitution is one of the shortest in the world. It takes 20 minutes.
If it is the one thing that stands between you and your liberty being lost and your government is oppressing you. If that doesn’t motivate you to at least take a look at it read it and to give a little bit of thought to how important it is then nothing will.
This was the scariest part of your article to me.
This short paragraph here:
What’s truly frightening is how this stunning unfamiliarity with the Constitution has bred contempt. If put to the vote, today only half of those surveyed said they would vote to adopt the Constitution even fewer believe that Congress should follow the Constitution. So much for the rule of law.
We have a lot of debates about so-called hate speech today and things like that. I just saw a poll that I believe that almost a majority of the younger, the college-age people, in America believe that what they would call hate speech, which is really speech that I don’t like right, is not protected by the first amendment.
I mean, when I went to law school, and you study the first amendment, and one of the biggest principles is that almost any kind of government control and censorship has what they call a chilling effect on speech. It makes people shut up, and it’s the last thing we want in a democracy, in a republic like we have. We need people to be speaking up, not shutting up.
What The First Amendment Really Is About
What you just described; the speech that you don’t like or you disagree with that’s really the speech that was supposed to be protected so that if what you have to say isn’t popular at the time, you still have the freedom to say that.
That’s the critical point. We have a generation today that is so self-absorbed and so self-centered that the only thing that matters is whether I agree with it or whether I like it or it makes me feel good. When, in fact, what’s the old principle? I may disagree with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it.
That’s what makes a country great.
No doubt, no doubt. Well, Tom, on the one hand, you got me down just reading the article, but on the other hand, we’re very action oriented around here the good news is that it can be fixed.
We Can Wake People Up – Ignorance is Curable
I mean we can wake people up, and we can get them to realize how important this is.
The good thing, is these principles work as Bob McEwan says, every time they’re tried. We’ll bring these constitutional principles back and get people educated. We can save the republic, but it’s going to take a lot of work. I think you’re right on the first step: is really shaking people from their slumber and realizing how critical this is to their life.
This isn’t some –
Ignorance is curable. We need to really be focused on that and moving forward because the things that made this country great are the things that will keep it great. That’s still true today, and we believe in them. And I think it’s just the case that a lot of people don’t understand those principles.
Well, folks at home one of the best cures for that ignorance is reading whatever Tom Jipping put out right there at The Heritage Foundation heritage. Heritage.com.
Tom always good to have you, man. Talk to you soon.
Thanks, Rick. I’d love to do it.
Stay with us folks, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
We Want To Hear Your Vet Story
Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Once in a while, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.
One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.
You have friends and family that also served. If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected] Give us a brief summary of the story, and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us at WallBuilders Live. Thanks to Tom Jinping for joining us from Heritage Foundation and again the link to the article is on our website right now at WallBuilderslive.com.
We’re back with David and Tim. Guys, I like told Tom is the one that bothered me the most, is he got that many that would say they wouldn’t even vote to adopt the Constitution today. You got to wonder, are they hung up on something a professor said about the original Constitution to outlaw slavery? I mean why? I can’t even get my head around that.
We Hear The Message That The Founding Father Were The Bad Guys
Well, Rick, we do address this. You know even at Patriot Academy. You get into helping kids understand because we do see even from kids who come from Christian homes or homeschool families right from very well-intentioned parents they still live in the same culture where we generally hear that the Founding Fathers were bad guys. We generally hear that other ways are better than what we’re doing.
That socialism is better than the free market. We see a trend happening in culture, and none of these ideas are sustainable and defensible when it comes to actual facts and data. Yet this is where people are coming from. You know the encouraging thing for us is when we do programs this summer, our leadership training program, we take students 18 to 25-year-olds, and we spend two weeks going back studying history getting into the apologetics of faith, the apologetics of America, of the free market, of the second amendment. When we start studying and understanding why and how it operates, we see kids who maybe had questions totally come around and go it totally makes sense, I understand it. I can communicate it.
You know, Rick at Patriot Academy, how many years have we seen kids come in and get a fire lit inside of them for a passion for America? When for some of them, there was a big question mark, and it’s not surprising that kids want to get rid of the Constitution when the only thing you hear about it is bad.
This is the nature of even why we do so much of what we do at WallBuilders. It is because people just don’t know what they don’t even know about history. What they know is inaccurate, but they don’t know what’s inaccurate.
One of the examples I will point to when I talked to audiences is how we don’t even realize how little we know about how much we think we know.
George Washington And The Cherry Tree
I’ll point at George Washington, and I’ll say OK I want you to think of your favorite story of George Washington. Think of his life. What stories do you know from his life?
The number one story everybody thinks of: is chopping down a cherry tree which never even happened. It was a fictitious story to help reveal the character, the integrity, the nature of George Washington. He was so honest that if he were to chop down this cherry tree, he would’ve been honest about that to his father.
It was a fictitious story to help reveal the character of the man. But the only story people know by and large, and maybe I mean we probably have some listeners who know some great stories. The story we call, the bulletproof George Washington. There’s a lot of really fun stories of him. So maybe our listeners know more. Most Americans don’t.
This is why to me it’s not surprising. It is revealing, this article in this interview but it’s not really surprising because we’re seeing this around us and knowing what education is promoting and teaching; this is just the result of what we’ve been teaching.
Yeah no doubt it is. We’re seeing the fruit of what’s been planted for years in the education system. Quick break, guys. We’ll be right back. Stay with us folks you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Comedy and the Constitution at Front Site
Hey friends, Rick Green here. Have you ever wanted to laugh while learning? Would you like to actually have some humor included in your education about the Constitution? Well, that’s what Brad Stine and myself do in what we call Comedy and the Constitution.
We do it all over the country and can bring it to your community. But, we’re doing something we’ve never done before. We’re taking the Comedy and the Constitution Front Site in Nevada, and we’re going to combine it with the Constitutional Defense Program we’ve been doing for a couple of years.
Now, the Constitutional Defense Program is where you actually get some constitution training and some handgun training to you learn how to defend yourself and your family. You’re going to get all of it: the constitutional training; the opportunity to laugh with Brad Stine, God’s comic comedian, and you’re going to the handgun training at Front Site.
This is a one-time event happening June 3rd and 4th. There’s still time to sign up; but, space is very limited. So, if you want to be on the range with us, then you’ve got to get signed up right now at RickGreen.com. Find out more; it’s going to be a great event on June 3rd and 4th. So, get signed up today at RickGreen.com.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live.
We’re talking today about the lack of knowledge that we have as a people with regards to our founding principles and how scary some of the positions are as a result of the lack of knowledge that exists.
Tom Jipping was with us earlier. Thanks to him for joining us from Heritage Foundation and his article, Is America Turning into a Nation of Dunces? Is available right now at WallBuildersLive.com.
David and Tim. OK, Tim, your point is spot-on, and that is how do we get to this point of these crazy statistics of the lack of knowledge about the founding fathers and the founding documents. It’s been the education system.
So what would you guys recommend to people at home right now that are listening for action steps? Because a lot of our listeners have kids at home still. Maybe they’re homeschooling maybe they’re public school, l private school whatever. I would argue regardless the solution is pretty much the same in terms of what we can do at home?
Ignorance Is Curable
Well, I’d go back to the phrase he said ignorance is curable and it is curable.
That’s a really really great point. One of the things we see with young people, it’s not that their hearts are in the wrong place, is that they’ve been given bad information. That’s why years ago Dad, you and Rick as you all are starting Patriot Academy. There was a reason: we wanted to help young people know the truth and how to be a biblical influencer in the arena of government. How do you help in a political campaign? How does the whole process work? How does legislation work? We wanted to help give better education than what was going on.
High Point Leadership Program
That’s the reason it’s been going on for 15, however many years. The reason we started our leadership training program. I mean essentially it’s a two-week glorified internship training program. But the reason we start is we want to help equip people even High Point which you know, Rick your kids have gone to you.
I go and teach it. Actually, I think Reagan is even working, one of your sons is actually working High Point with us this summer.
It’s correct, man and it’s had a huge impact on our family.
I can’t recommend High Point enough to folks it’s a life-changing experience for young people.
And that’s what Tim?
It’s roughly 15 and 19 years old. Really they’re targeting high school students. So if you’re a high school at 14 you know there’s a little flexibility but generally targeting high school students but the point is: there are things that we do to try to help overcome this there’s a lack of knowledge and understanding because ignorance is curable.
That’s the most hopeful and promising thing for parents: is that we don’t have to despair when kids come home with bad ideas. We just have to help walk them through the idea and sometimes have them defend the idea and sometimes by not being able to defend a bad idea, they come to a conclusion this is a bad idea.
Sometimes we’re not ready to receive truth until we realize that what we believe is inaccurate and then we’re ready for something different.
Get The Word Out There
There’s something every single one of us can do. All the programs Tim just mentioned, is a great place to start. Whether you send your kids there or you just get on Facebook and send out a message to your friends and family or e-mail. However, you to do it. Let people know about it so that they can get their young people to these programs. There are multiple opportunities.
Then get on WallBuilders.com just get some of the materials and start studying them at home. Make it part of your dinner each night and spend five minutes studying about something in the Constitution or the founding fathers are or be a host of a Constitution class at your church or whatever your particular desire is.
If some of the things we talk about on this program they pique your interest and you feel a light bulb go on in your head you like I can do that, go that. Every single one of us can make a difference if we’ll just get engaged and get active. We have tons of tools available for you at WallBuilders.com and at WallBuilderslive.com.
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Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.