Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Newt: "This Is Not a Right Wing Country"

At The Hill, Cameron Joseph reports on Newt Gingrich's occasional support for moderate-to-liberal Republicans over conservatives.  Though he is currently emphasizing his conservative credentials, he has often spoken of a big tent.  From his address to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Raleigh, North Carolina, March 30, 1990:
Now, it is important to understand where we're at.  We are, in terms of a center right coalition -- and understand carefully want I just said.  This is not a right wing country. This is a center right country. And it is a coalition. and that means we have to get used to fighting ourselves at times and we have to recognize that as a majority, we are in the business of conflict management. We are not in the business of conflict resolution. You only resolve conflict by kicking people out and that means you become a minority. So if you intend to be a majority, you have to be willing to live with a lot of conflict because that is the nature of a majority. And you have got to be cheerful about fighting each other. It is like having a giant family picnic where 60 percent of the country shows up and somebody says, "And what would you like to have to drink?" And you are bound to have arguments over the answers. But in that frame work, if we learn to love each other a little bit, we are potentially the decisive governing force in the United States which is the decisive governing society on the planet. 
(Applause.)
In 2009, he had this exchange with Greta Van Susteren about a special election in upstate New York: 
 MR. GINGRICH: ... Dede Scozzafava is endorsed by the National Rifle Association for her 2nd Amendment position, has signed the no tax increase pledge, voted against the Democratic governor's big-spending budget, is against the cap-and-trade tax increase on energy, is against the Obama health plan, and will vote for John Boehner, rather than Nancy Pelosi, to be Speaker. Now, that's adequately conservative in an upstate New York district. And on other issues, she's about where the former Republican, McHugh, was. So I say to my many conservative friends who suddenly decided that, whether they're from Minnesota or Alaska or Texas, they know more than the upstate New York Republicans? I don't think so. And I don't think it's a good precedent. And I think if this third-party candidate takes away just enough votes to elect the Democrat, then we will have strengthened Nancy Pelosi. 
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: What is it that they have identified as why they think the independent candidate -- 
MR. GINGRICH: Well, there's no question, on social policy, she's a liberal Republican. 
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: On such as abortion? 
MR. GINGRICH: On such as abortion, gay marriage, which means that she's about where Rudy Giuliani was when he became mayor, and yet Rudy Giuliani was a great mayor. And so this idea that we're suddenly going to establish litmus tests, and all across the country, we're going to purge the party of anybody who doesn't agree with us 100 percent, that guarantees Obama's reelection. That guarantees Pelosi is Speaker for life. I mean, I think that is a very destructive model for the Republican Party.

Public and Private Compensation

The pay and benefits of public employees have been much in the news lately.  The Congressional Budget Office provides some data on federal workers:
CBO's study compares federal civilian employees and private-sector employees with certain similar observable characteristics (described below). Even among workers with similar observable characteristics, however, employees of the federal government and the private sector may differ in other attributes, such as motivation or effort, that are not easy to measure but that can matter a great deal for individuals' compensation. This analysis focuses on wages, benefits, and total compensation between 2005 and 2010....Differences in total compensation—the sum of wages and benefits—between federal and private-sector employees also varied according to workers' education level.
  • Federal civilian employees with no more than a high school education averaged 36 percent higher total compensation than similar private-sector employees.
  • Federal workers whose education culminated in a bachelor's degree averaged 15 percent higher total compensation than their private-sector counterparts.
  • Federal employees with a professional degree or doctorate received 18 percent lower total compensation than their private-sector counterparts, on average.
Overall, the federal government paid 16 percent more in total compensation than it would have if average compensation had been comparable with that in the private sector, after accounting for certain observable characteristics of workers.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gingrich and Reagan in Public Papers

There has lately been some campaign controversy over Newt Gingrich's relationship to Ronald Reagan.  Gingrich suggests  that he was a key supporter, whereas his critics say he was either irrelevant or hostile. As this blog has pointed out, he may have supplied Reagan with a key debate line in 1980.  He also spoke in favor on the Reagan Administration's policies on many occasions.  But he also broke with Reagan on issues such as tax increases and South African apartheid.


One measure of his significance in the Reagan universe is the number of times the president mentioned him in speeches, press conferences and the like.  If one looks in The Public Papers of the Presidents, one finds exactly seven mentions of Gingrich during the entire eight years of the Reagan presidency.  Five were brief acknowledgments in speeches that the president gave in Georgia.  Here are the other two:
  • July 24, 1981:  "We have this chance because many of you have been working very hard. But I think our special thanks go to people like Barber Conable and Dick Cheney and Stan Parris and Newt Gingrich." 
  • March 2, 1984:  "I'm gratified that Congressman Newt Gingrich is organizing a rally Monday night on the Capitol steps in support of our prayer in school amendment."

That's it.

Here is the complete list of items mentioning Gingrich:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Twitter and the Nomination Race

Ashley Parker writes at The New York Times:
With 100 million active users, more than 10 times as many as in the 2008 election, Twitter has emerged as a critical tool for political campaigns, allowing them to reach voters, gather data and respond to charges immediately. But like most new media tools, it also carries danger for the campaigns. It can quickly define the political debate, whether candidates like it or not, and a single 140-character missive can turn into a nightmare.

Twitter has changed the whole way that politics works,” said Teddy Goff, the digital director of President Obama’s re-election campaign. “Not just the press element, but the organizing element and the fund-raising element and the relationship building that all campaigns try to do.”

Perhaps no Republican campaign monitors Twitter more closely than Mr. Romney’s operation, which believes that it can ferret out bias among reporters by analyzing their posts. Top aides say they watch Mr. Romney’s events with a Twitter stream open on their computer. Their war room compiles all the Twitter messages from the press corps at every event and e-mails them to the campaign staff.

“Twitter is the ultimate real-time engagement mechanism, so it’s moved everything to a much faster speed,” said Zac Moffatt, the digital director for the Romney campaign. “You have no choice but to be actively engaging it at all times.”

Candidates and Charitable Giving in the US

Our chapter on civic culture looks at charitable giving and its relationship to religion, a topic that has entered the campaign with the release of Mitt Romney's tax returns. From The New York Times:

 

The Nomination Calendar

As we discuss in our chapter on political parties, the presidential nomination calendar puts some states at an advantage and others at a disadvantage. In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, The Times Leader reports that the GOP field may shrink by the time of the Pennsylvania primary on April 24.
“If they’re lucky, there might be two choices,” opined Tom Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University.
Dave Sosar, a political science professor at King’s College, agreed, saying that unless former House Speaker Newt Gingrich can pull off some surprise victories over the next two months, Pennsylvania voters will realistically be choosing between front-runner Mitt Romney and a group of candidates who’ve already either removed their names from consideration or have no mathematical chance at securing the nomination.
The historic order of things, or as Keystone College political science professor Jeff Brauer calls it “political tradition,” is why states go the polls in the order they do in presidential election years.
...
“Basically, states are expected to keep their order and respect the political traditions of the primaries. Switching the order means major unexpected shifts in strategy for the candidates and the political parties which they are not interested in doing,” Brauer said.
...
Baldino said Pennsylvania can still be a viable player in the nominating process if Romney makes some missteps or Gingrich builds on his momentum after winning South Carolina and continues to capture some states to remain within reach of Romney.
“It’s an optimistic scenario,” Baldino said, noting that he doesn’t believe Gingrich can win Florida’s primary on Tuesday, and it could spell the end for his chance. But a surprise victory would certainly shuffle things significantly and make the odds much better that Pennsylvania could still be in play.

Gingrich and Political Warfare

At The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny recount a conference call in which Mitt Romney's advisers reacted to a primary defeat in South Carolina by taking a more aggressive approach to Newt Gingrich: "Behind the scenes, it was more than that. It was a call to arms employing all the visible and invisible tactics of political warfare."   The article describes how the Romney battle plan has thrown Gingrich onto the defensive.

Ironically, Gingrich himself has done more than any American politician to bring military concepts into political life.  He often gave his aides reading lists, which included the following:
  • Sun-Tzu. The Art of War. Westview Press. 1994. Boulder, San Francisco, Oxford.
  • Miyamoto Musashi. A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy. Overlook Press. 1974. Woodstock, New York.
  • General Heinz Guderian. Panzer Leader. Zenger Publishing Co. 1952. Washington, D.C. 
Here are excerpts from my 1996 paper, "Understanding Newt Gingrich." (Downloadable pdf here). 
Although Gingrich never served in the armed forces, thoughts of the military have always buzzed in his mind. His adoptive father, an army officer, once took him to the ossuary at the Verdun battlefield. Gingrich later said that this confrontation with the horrors of war persuaded him to change his career plans from science to statesmanship. His academic studies included military history, and when he taught at West Georgia College, he learned still more from colleague Albert S. "Steve" Hanser, a military veteran. In the House, he helped found the Military Reform Caucus and often spoke at the war colleges as a way of making contact with the best military minds. He even wrote the introduction for a military text on strategic vision.
 Like everyone, Gingrich uses military terminology in discussing politics. (After all, words  such as campaign and strategy were born on battlefields.). Unlike most other political figures, he seriously thinks about applications of military principles.
...
In his first successful congressional race, Gingrich made it clear that he did not take the military analogy lightly. He told a group of College Republicans:

Every one of you is old enough to have been a rifleman in Vietnam. A number of you are old enough to have been platoon leaders, or company commanders, depending on the  situation, and how rapidly you move up in rank. This is the same business, we're just lucky, in this country, we don't use bullets, we use ballots instead. You're fighting a war: It is a war for power.
As speaker, he has expressed much the same sentiment: "Politics and war are remarkably similar systems." In an address at the Library of Congress, he put it more colorfully by paraphrasing Mao Zedong: "War is politics with blood; politics is war without blood." This  mind set manifests itself in very concrete ways. Throughout 1995, Gingrich sent House  Republican leaders and their aides to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command centers in Virginia and Kansas. In 1996, he asked military congressional fellows to aid in an "after-action review" of why the GOP's budget plan nearly lost on the House floor.

I later expanded some of these ideas in my book The Art of Political Warfare.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Union Membership in 2011

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
In 2011, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union--was 11.8 percent, essentially unchanged from 11.9 percent in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million, also showed little movement over the year. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was  20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers. 
The data on union membership were collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. ...
Highlights from the 2011 data:
--Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (37.0 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.9 percent). (See table 3.) --Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate, at 36.8 percent, while the lowest rate occurred in sales and related occupations (3.0 percent). (See table 3.) --Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.) --Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.1 percent) and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (2.9 percent). (See table 5.)

Global Attitudes on Regulation

As our chapters on civic culture and economic policy point out, Americans have distinctive views about the role of government in the economy. The New York Times reports:
Americans are more likely than people in any other country to believe that their government overregulates business, according to a survey of public attitudes in 25 countries around the world, conducted by the public relations firm Edelman. The question asked in October and November of last year was, “When it comes to government regulation of business, do you think that your government regulates business too much, not enough or the right amount?” The charts show the percentage of the public in each country who think their government gets it right, and then show the proportion of the remainder who believe there is too much or too little regulation.

Polarization and the Presidency

Gallup reports:
The historically high gap between partisans' job approval ratings of Barack Obama continued during Obama's third year in office, with an average of 80% of Democrats and 12% of Republicans approving of the job he was doing.

In fact, Obama's Year Three average 68-percentage-point partisan gap is tied for the fourth highest in Gallup records dating back to the Eisenhower administration. Only George W. Bush's fourth, fifth, and sixth years in office showed higher degrees of political polarization. Together, Bush and Obama account for the 7 most polarized years, and 8 of the top 10.

Notably, 3 of the top 10 years coincided with presidents' re-election years, including Bush in 2004, Bill Clinton in 1996, and Ronald Reagan in 1984. In fact, a president's fourth year tends to be the most polarized, as has been the case for each of the last six elected presidents. Since 1953, Eisenhower is the only elected president whose fourth year was not his most polarized; his sixth year -- a midterm election year -- was the one with the largest gap in his approval ratings by party.

Inherit Your Rights

Our chapter on civic culture discusses voluntary service. Our chapter on foreign policy and national security explains various ways in which Americans have helped people in other countries.

Here's an example.

In 2010, Stanford Law School student Jana Hardy teamed with British attorney Kate Windridge to found Inherit Your Rights (IYR), a nonprofit dedicated to (1) educating women about their property rights and inheritance laws; (2) supporting widows in their immediate needs through micro-enterprise 
projects; and (3) assisting widows to assert, exercise, and defend their legal rights.

From the group's website:

Inherit Your Rights has initiated its pilot project in northern Tanzania, in a small village in the foothills of Mount Meru. Through a local Pastor, we have met and started working with a group of 35 widows. We have acquired a plot of land here, where we can operate micro-enterprise projects to assist the women with their immediate needs, and where we hope to open a legal-aid clinic, focusing on probate and property law.
In rural Tanzania, widows are extremely vulnerable to abuse: under customary law, when a man dies, his wife inherits nothing, unless she is childless and there are no other living relatives. The man’s children are his rightful heirs. However, if the children are too young to assert their rights, the man’s family often takes advantage of the situation, and expels the widow and her children from the family land. These women, alone and with no means of supporting themselves or their children, need both legal representation and practical assistance.
For more information, visit IYR’s website: www.inherityourrights.org

Friday, January 27, 2012

Meeting the President

In times of political conflict, personal meetings with the president can be fraught with controversy. Jeremy Gordon writes at The Wall Street Journal:
When the Boston Bruins visited the White House Monday to celebrate their 2011 Stanley Cup victory, they were without perhaps their most important player of their inspired championship run: goaltender Tim Thomas, who elected to stay at home rather than get an official commendation from President Barack Obama
 ... 
He isn’t the first athlete to snub Washington D.C., or even the first within the last year. In September, a handful of NASCAR stars like Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards wereunable to attend a White House ceremony in their honor, citing scheduling contacts. Last fall, Hall of Famer Dan Hampton declined to go after his 1985 Chicago Bears championship team was invited for a long-due celebration, saying “I’m not a fan of the guy in the White House.” And Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen went on vacation instead of visiting the White House of George W. Bush after his team won in 2005, though he never made any explicit political statement about it.
Thomas is, however, the most high-profile athlete to take such action.  He explained himself in a statement:
"I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.

This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.

Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.

This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT"
Meanwhile, another meeting with the president proved difficult. AP reports: 
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer came to greet President Barack Obama upon his arrival outside Phoenix Wednesday. What she got was a critique of how he is depicted in her book. The two leaders could be seen engaged in an intense conversation.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Politics and Civic Learning on Campus

Our chapter on public opinion describes the ideological orientations of the public. Allie Grasgreen writes at Inside Higher Ed:
Even though the percentage of incoming freshmen who identify as conservative has stayed relatively stable, those students and the rest of their peers are shifting away from hard-line conservative stances on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, marijuana legalization and affirmative action.

The latest iteration of The American Freshman: National Norms, published annually by UCLA’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program, also found that as students who entered four-year colleges in fall 2011 are increasingly concerned about finances, they’re also more academically oriented in high school, studying more and partying less.
Our chapter on civic culture discusses civic learning. Kaustuv Basu writes at Inside Higher Ed:
Earlier this month, the Association of American Colleges and Universities released a report prepared by a national task force that made the case for elevated civic learning in higher education. That theme continued Wednesday, at the annual meeting of the AACU, where educators talked about how to carry out these ideas.

Wednesday’s discussions centered around seeking examples and promising practices of civic learning. Such learning cannot be episodic, occasional, or celebratory, speakers said. In a discussion about “civic inquiry and problem solving across general education and the major,” Gail Robinson, director of service learning at AACU, said that students should be made part of the decision-making process when it comes to incorporating civic learning in college courses. One obvious way to attract students, she said, could be if they felt that they were more competitive in the job market because they were engaged in questions of civic importance. “If they see it is a plus for them, that could be one way of making it work,” she said.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Higher Education in the State of the Union

Our chapter on bureaucracy discusses ways in which the federal government regulates higher education. The president talked about such issues in his State of the Union address:
Join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. (Applause.) My administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, and Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers -– places that teach people skills that businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.

...
When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. (Applause.)
Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves millions of middle-class families thousands of dollars, and give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years. (Applause.)
Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.
Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that. Some schools redesign courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it’s possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. (Applause.) Higher education can’t be a luxury -– it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Information Silos

Just before the South Carolina primary, The Washington Post reported:
With just hours remaining before South Carolina’s Republican primary, it’s clear to campaign strategists and voters alike that the revolution in how Americans get their news has dramatically altered the political process. There’s more campaign news and commentary out there than ever before, but more and more citizens are tucking themselves inside information silos where they see mainly what they already agree with. The result, according to voters, campaign strategists and a raft of studiesthat track users’ news choices, is an electorate in which conservatives and liberals often have not only their own opinions but also their own sets of facts, making it harder than ever to approach common ground.
The audience is so polarized that even when consumers look for more entertaining sorts of news, such as travel or sports stories, they tend to choose sources that match their political leanings — conservatives to Fox News and liberals to National Public Radio, for example — according to a study by professors at Stanford and UCLA that dubbed this phenomenon “selective exposure.”

Gingrich and the Public

Newt Gingrich is surging among Republicans, but polls suggest that he is a much tougher sell with the general public.  His problems here have deep roots.  Five years ago, Gallup reported:

Americans' ratings of Gingrich have never been particularly positive. Only once since 1994 have more Americans viewed him favorably than unfavorably -- and that was by a small 29% to 25% margin shortly after the Republicans took control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections under his leadership. His high favorable rating was just 42% in October 1998. His negatives were above 60% throughout much of 1997.
Republicans are much more positive about Gingrich than are independents or Democrats. In the latest poll, 46% of Republicans view him favorably, compared with 26% of independents and 9% of Democrats. Historically, Gingrich has often had favorable ratings above the 50% level among Republicans, topping out at 61% on several occasions. Democrats have always viewed him negatively, and his favorable ratings among them have typically been below 20%.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Two Gingrich Episodes

In 1987, A Democratic speaker slam-dunked House Republicans, who booed. Newt Gingrich voiced dissent.

 



 In 1995, Newt Gingrich's book deal was up for debate. This time, Republicans had the upper hand and Democrats booed. 

 

Gingrich Bingo, 1.3

In time for the this week's debates, here is an updated  list of Newt Gingrich's favorite words and phrasesWith the list in hand, you can use a Bingo generator to produce a card like this:


Bizarre
Grotesque
Anti-Job
Frankly
Academia
Vastly
Imagine
Transform
Profoundly
Radically
Nancy Pelosi
Dumb
Fundamentally
Empower
Unelected
Enormously
Choose
Anti-Family
Anti-American
Saul Alinsky
Reshape
Barack Obama
Change
Elite
Absurd

Or you may simply deploy the list for (non-alcoholic) drinking games. Either way, here are some of the many items that you can plug in (and feel free to give extra points for any reference to a battle in the Civil War or American Revolution):

Adverbs:

  • Frankly
  • Candidly
  • Fundamentally
  • Profoundly
  • Basically
  • Radically
  • Dramatically
  • Enormously
  • Extraordinarily
  • Vastly
Verbs:
  • Imagine
  • Change
  • Transform
  • Reform
  • Empower
  • Replace
  • Reshape
  • Choose
Negative adjectives:
  • Elite (also a noun)
  • Bizarre
  • Secular
  • Socialist
  • Grotesque
  • Radical
  • Absurd
  • Sick
  • Pathetic
  • Corrupt
  • Dumb
  • Centralized
  • Politically correct
  • Left-wing
  • Unelected
  • Anti-family, anti-job, anti-American
Negative nouns:
  • Bureaucracy
  • Welfare state
  • Entitlement
  • Big government
  • Elite
  • Machine (as in political machine)
  • Hollywood
  • Academia
  • Union bosses
  • Trial lawyers
Positive adjectives:
  • Conservative
  • Opportunity
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Transformational
  • Solutions-oriented
  • Pro-American
Heroes:
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Pope John Paul II
  • Winston Churchill
  • Abraham Lincoln
Villains:
  • Saul Alinsky
  • Ben Bernanke
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Bill Ayers
  • Barack Obama
  • Barney Frank
  • Nancy Pelosi
  • Harry Reid

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Social Media and Campaigns in 2012

Chandra Steele writes at PC Magazine:
New media have entered the picture and candidates' online social presence is just as, if not more, likely to affect voting. Sixty percent of social media users responding to a Digitas survey in October 2011 said they expect candidates to have a social media presence; for almost 40 percent, information found on social media will help determine their voting choices as much as traditional media sources like TV or newspapers. For anyone doubting that a social media message is fleeting, 94 percent of social media users of voting age watched a political message in its entirety on a social media site and 39 percent then went on to share it with an average of 130 other users, according to a May 2011 study by Social Vibe.
Engagement level is the key measurement of social media success for a candidate, according to Alexander Howard, Gov 2.0 correspondent for O'Reilly Media. That means that the number of Twitter followers or Facebook fans a candidate has is not nearly as important as their social media interactions with supporters, how many people share the candidate's message with their own network, and how much attention beyond social media (in outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN) those actions receive. Howard disagrees with the axiom that all publicity is good publicity, and the same goes for engagement. "Look at what happened with Anthony Weiner," Howard told PCMag.

Knowing History

Deliberation depends on a certain degree of historical knowledge. At RealClearHistory, Samuel Chi lays out reasons for concern:
We’re now a country led by a man who thought JFK talked Khrushchev out of the Cuban missile crisis (he didn’t); claimed that our country built the “Intercontinental Railroad” (must be from New York to Paris); and bragged that his uncle liberated Auschwitz (was he in the Soviet Red Army?).
And I’m not picking on just Obama. His political detractors are every bit as ignorant on history: Ask them about the American Revolution, and you’d find that Michele Bachmann thought the battles at Lexington and Concord were in New Hampshire; Rick Perry believed the war was fought in the 16th century; and Sarah Palin claimed it all began when Paul Revere warned the British....
A Marist College survey last year revealed just how clueless Americans are about history. Barely half of the respondents knew that the U.S. gained its independence in 1776 (Rick Perry sure wasn’t among them), and over a quarter thought the colonies revolted against a country other than Britain (some believed it was China). The percentage of correct answers was proportional to the respondents’ age -- which certainly is no surprise.
As our generations get more ignorant about history, it prompts the question: Does history still matter?
I hesitate to bring up George Santayana’s famous “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” warning, because “remember” implied that it was learned at one time and later forgotten. In these times, it’s rather more like “those who are ignorant of the past are destined to screw up because they think they’re doing something new.”...
That’s where we come in with our humble pitch: We launched RealClearHistory in September 2011 with the mission of delivering daily authoritative and informative history commentary and analysis. There are also, of course, a number of established great sites, including the University of Houston’s Digital History, George Mason’s History News Network and The History Channel, just to name a few.