Congresswoman-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) is being criticized for her lack of civics knowledge while on a conference call with Democratic activists.

“If we work our butts off to make sure that we take back all three chambers of Congress — Uh, rather, all three chambers of government: the presidency, the Senate, and the House,” she said.

Obviously wrong on two counts, they are not all three branches of government nor are they all chambers. She was obviously talking about winning the trifecta in politics. 

Ocasio-Cortez is young, energetic, and she holds a lot of appeal for a lot of people on the left. I don’t think she unintelligent per se, and dismissing her as stupid is a mistake. She does represent a fundamental lack of civics knowledge in the United States. 

The Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey this year showed that only 32 percent of Americans know all three branches of government. More people could not name a single branch of government on that survey than could name all three.

That is frightening. 

It should not surprise us that an electorate without basic knowledge of civics would elect to Congress someone who lacks a basic understanding of civics.

It should not surprise us that Ocasio-Cortez, educated in a system that values civic engagement over civics knowledge, would make such an error. Based on a recent survey of school leaders that emphasis does not look like it will change soon and that’s a much, much greater problem that one sound byte from a soon-to-be member of Congress.

Photo Credit: Corie Torpie (CC-By-SA 4.0)

2 comments
  1. I don’t know what’s being taught now, but when I went to school in the 80’s, I knew this stuff coming out of junior high and high school. No wonder we’re slacking way behind other countries in our scholastic aptitude testing and comprehension. It is scary that this person is going to be representing constituents in a high level government capacity. Very scary!!!

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