President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A YouGov survey released on Wednesday revealed a disturbing lack of knowledge among Americans about how our government works. Only days after President Donald Trump erroneously claimed that he has “total authority” to determine when governors could reopen their states, the poll reveals that many on the right believed him.
If the poll’s findings are any indication, America might need a lesson on Federalism.
The results of the survey were quite problematic, considering that it is usually Republicans who take the Constitution seriously. Given the fact that the left thinks the nation’s founding documents mean whatever they want them to mean depending on their agenda, it is essential that right-leaning Americans know what the Constitution says.
The survey revealed that 55% of all adults believe that state governors have the ultimate authority to ease COVID-19 restrictions, while 27% believe the president possesses the power to make this decision. When the numbers are broken down by political affiliation, it reveals 52% of Republicans believe that Trump has the final say in reopening state economies, while 35% indicate that governors are responsible for this decision.
Among Democrats, 69% indicate that state governors can remove coronavirus restrictions while only 15% believe that the onus is on the president. Independents gave similar responses, with 61% stating that governors had the authority to ease COVID-19 measures while 21 indicated that this power is granted to Trump.
So what gives?
The notion that more than half of Republicans believe that President Trump possesses authority that the Constitution does not give him seems odd because conservative-leaning individuals tend to have more reverence for the nation’s founding document. Even more curious is the fact that Democrats, who are not typically concerned with the Constitution, managed to get it right on this issue.
One likely explanation is the fact that partisanship has infused almost every aspect of American politics to the point that many Americans on both sides are more concerned with their team winning than actual principles. To put it another way, their opinions on the president’s constitutional powers seem to be colored by how one feels about Trump.
In general, Democrats have a negative opinion of the President, so when Trump stated that he has “total authority” to compel governors to reopen their states’ economies, the knee-jerk reaction was to immediately disagree. Many of these individuals probably don’t even know why Trump was incorrect, but they are merely following the lead of the corporate media, which was whining incessantly about Trump not playing more of a role in the effort to combat COVID-19.
On the other hand, Republicans seem to be just as susceptible to partisanship as the left. Despite the fact that there is no clause in the Constitution that would empower Trump to have the final word on when states can reopen their economies, they believed the President.
At the end of the day, it seems likely that many of these individuals would not have the same opinions if Barack Obama were still in office; we would likely see a higher percentage of Democrats claiming that he has more power than the Constitution grants. Conversely, Republicans would not approve of Obama making remarks similar to Trump’s.
Of course, it is also important to note that despite the accessibility of information that we enjoy today, many Americans simply don’t know how our government functions. It’s not as if our schools are consistently teaching our students about the principles of federalism and states’ rights. It is no wonder that many would not understand some of the more fundamental ideas that have formed American society.
The lack of knowledge about our government is dangerous – the less we know, the easier it is for the state to expand its power. Perhaps this is why left-leaning educational systems fail to provide our students with the information they need to become informed citizens; there can be no doubt that this is by design. The question is, how do those who care about our nation’s values push back?
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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