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Poll Shows That Many Americans Are Unfamiliar With Top Government Officials

November 8, 2010 by  

Poll shows that many Americans are unfamiliar with top government officialsA recent survey reveals that many Americans are not well-informed about some of the major players in the Federal government and legislature.

More than 50 percent of those surveyed in a new Harris Poll said that they did not know enough about five prominent political figures to give a positive or negative review about their job performance. Those officials are Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chief Justice John Roberts, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and House Minority Leader John Boehner.

The majority of individuals had a negative opinion about both the Democratic and Republican members of Congress. Only one politician, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, had substantial positive reviews. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi fielded the worst feedback, with 52 percent of negative and only 19 percent of positive opinions.

Vice President Joe Biden received 46 percent negative reviews and 26 percent positive.

Harris Interactive, the custom market research firm that conducted the poll, believes that the survey suggests that many people hold strong views about government officials without actually following the proceedings. The company said that the negative ratings for the top leaders reveal an overall sour mood about the current state of American politics.

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  • Vigilant

    These polls remind me of when Jay Leno sends out his staffers for “man on the street” interviews for such questions as, “why do we celebrate Thanksgiving?” The answers are generally pathetic and show that Americans in general are an ignorant lot.

    While Nov 2 indicated that more people are becoming interested in politics, and the Tea Party movement has shown that people are becoming more familiar with American history, the general public remains woefully ignorant.

    Our public so-called “education” system continues to grind out new members of the electorate who are programmed by the revisionists to have no interest in current events, vote socialistic, and cherish boneheaded notions about the environment, economics and Capitalism.

    • TIME

      V, Man you nailed that one dead on dude.

    • barbm

      Texas school children will be even less educated because the Texas Board of Education removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.” they think jefferson was too liberal in his religious beliefs. “As the nation’s second-largest textbook market, Texas has enormous leverage over publishers, who often “craft their standard textbooks based on the specs of the biggest buyers.” Indeed, as The Washington Monthly has reported, “when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas rarely stays in Texas.”” the quotes are from a blog on “thinkprogress”.

      • 45caliber

        That is sad – but it is still better than what the Dems wanted to do to the history books. (The inventor of the fireman’s hat is more important than the Constitution?) So I’ll take it this time.

    • Warrior

      If anyone caught Stossel’s show last week, he showed a photo of Boehner to people on the street in NY. No one could identify him. He showed photos of some reality TV slubs that almost all could identify. So this is what our country is all about now? How about we challenge MSM to begin putting educational programming on instead of the dumb down crap they continually push. No wonder there are soooo many sheeple.

      • 45caliber

        The three (3) rules of takeover of the US by the original American Communist Party were:

        1) destroy the ruggedness of the American people by concentrating their attention on spectator sports and sex.

        2) Take control of the news media an use it to prevent the population from knowing what is going on in the legislative halls and to tear down the image of any natural leader the people might want to follow

        3) disarm the population through gun control.

        They are getting there, aren’t they?

        • Joseph C Moore, USN Ret

          Correct!

        • Warrior

          Yep.

    • timmym

      Nothing else need be said Americans are politically IGNORANT PEOPLE !

      • http://naver sook young

        I’m a new citizen of this country and find that remark offensive. Where are you from? Are they as ignorant there? Thank you.

        Sook Young
        Wife of the Samurai

        • timmym

          when you confront someone let that someone know who they are sook !

          • timmym

            sook who were you referring to in your comment !

          • http://naver samurai

            My wife is talking to you, moron! My wife is nowhere as ignorant as you are. If you think you are right, then cite some sources and give some real facts. Before my wife and I voted Tuesday, we got as much info on the candidates we could get our hands on, read the info, and made a clear conscience choice at the voting booth. I suggest that you refrain from talking to someone in that way, especially one that seems to be more of a proud American than you. If you are an American. FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

        • timmym

          sook IF you find timmym’s remark to be offensive shows me how IGNORANT YOU ARE !. IF you had the SLIGHTEST bit of intelligence you would know that the American people as a whole ARE politically ignorant,IT’S A FACT !. But I am going to give you a break cause you are NEW to this country !. YOU GOT A LOT TO LEARN !

        • Vigilant

          sook young,

          Congratulations on your citizenship! I have always noticed that new citizens to America have a better understanding of our foundation and are more educated about the government than most of the “born” citizens.

          Too many Americans take their freedom and privileges for granted, and as timmym commented, tend to be politically ignorant. I don’t think he/she meant it as an insult to you.

          • Vigilant

            Sorry, sook young, I just saw timmym’s reply and I guess I was wrong.

            There’s no excuse for timmym’s invective and belligerence. timmym, shame on you!

          • timmym

            Tell me Vigilant do you think Americans as a whole are politically smart ?. I am WAITING for your answer !

          • timmym

            You had it right the 1st time Vigilant I could not have said it any better “too many Americans take their freedom and privileges for granted, and as timmym commented, tend to be politically ignorant. I don’t think he/she meant it as an insult to you” and you were absolutely correct Vigilant!. Then in your second post you said I was invective and belligerent ! so let me get this straight Vigilant it’s OK for sook to START the name calling and the throwing of insults at me personally that had nothing to do with him , but when I defend myself you call me invective and belligerent. I will remember you !

          • timmym

            Vigilant let’s look at my original post “Nothing else need be said Americans are politically IGNORANT PEOPLE “. Now show me in that original post where you get sook is politically ignorant. The fact of the matter is sook took the post totally out of context because he wants everyone to know he is a patriot. How odd ?

          • Vigilant

            timmym,

            This whole fracas was unnecessary to begin with. sook young made an honest mistake, you came back with insults.

          • libertytrain

            vigilant – you are correct – sounds like he has an identity issue himself and is making very much ado about absolutely nothing. Appears to only want to attack Samurai – sounds like a familiar poster that’s done that before.

          • timmym

            Vigilant who insulted who first ? you seemed to have conveniently left that portion out ! If sook made an honest mistake see could have been mature enough to say so.

          • http://naver sook young

            By reading timmym’s postings, he sounds like 2 different people. That’s strange. Thank you.

            Sook Young
            Wife of the Samurai

        • timmym

          What does you and your wife’s political knowledge have to do with the original statement that the American people as a whole are politically ignorant ! You took my statement personal that had NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU !. Near 50% of American citizens did not vote Nov 2nd it wasn’t that they were politically smart but just didn’t want to vote they didn’t vote cause the vast majority don’t care!. I could go to YOUR town and hold up a sign of your mayor and 7 out of 10 people would NOT know who the mayor was I could hold up a sign of snooky the girl on jersey shore and 7 out of 10 WOULD know who snooky was. now do you understand,? that’s called being POLITICALLY IGNORANT !

          • http://naver samurai

            You said that Ameriacns are politically ignorant, well I guess my wife and I are examples of Americans that are politically knowledgeable. Second, don’t you ever talk to mu wofe like that again, moron! I’ll reach my hand through the computer screen, ram it down your throat, grab you on the inside, and turn you inside out. I suugest that you apollogize. FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

          • timmym

            OK sook you say “well I guess my wife and I are examples of Americans that are politically knowledgeable” GREAT so why do you take offense when someone says that Americans as a whole are politically ignorant. What does my statement have to do with you personally, your politically smart ? what you should have thought when you read my post is that this guy isn’t talking to me I got my act together instead you took offense so why would you take offense to something that didn’t pertain to you ! answer please. And don’t threaten people because you made a mistake.

          • timmym

            sook and samurai read all of timmym’s posts and I will wait for your response to those posts before I send my final comment regarding this manner.

          • http://naver sook young

            One reason I was offended by your statement is because you lumped all Americans into one group and now you are trying to make excuses for what you posted. You are trying to say that you meant it for certain people, but not ones like you. You never said that. You just said every single American is ignorant when it comes to politics. I think that a rational and mature adult wouldn’t make such a broad and factually unsound statement like that. For your information, I know my political representatives. In Indiana, there is Senator Dan Coats, Governor Mitch Daniels, Congressman Joe Donnelly of the 2nd district where we live. Also what do you mean by I have a lot to learn? I’ve been married to an American and have lived in this country for many years, how about you? Can you take some responsibility and say where you are from? Making comments like these, with no facts or sources to back them up, shows you are no more an American than Norm, Eddie, or Robert. You say that no more than 50% of all Americans voted on Tuesday? How would you know this? In Indiana, more people voted on Tuesday than 2 years ago. I probably know a lot more about it than you give me credit for knowing. My husband is a historian and retired soldier. Have you ever served this country or performed your patriotic duties, such as voting? Maybe I took your post out of context, as you said, but that’s no reason for acting the way you did. This is my answer to your posts. Now, I’ll do the same and wait for you to answer my questions. This would only be fair. Making a comment like you did doesn’t sound like it came from a patriotic American. Thank you.

            Sook Young
            Wife of the Samurai

          • http://naver samurai

            Timmym, are you going to answer my wife’s questions or will we continue to hear those darn crickets in the background? She’s also still waiting for her apollogy. FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

          • http://?? Joe H.

            chirp, chirp, chirp chirp

          • http://naver samurai

            Timmym has left the building. Thank you and good night. FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

    • Cathy

      Amazing, isn’t it? Some of Jay’s questions…what two countries border the US? The guy answered Australia and Hawaii. When asked how many stars were on the flag, the woman said the wind was blowing it too fast and she couldn’t count them.

      This country has become a nation of dummies. Just look at the popular shows on TV and the magazines that are on display at the grocery stores. The movie “Idiocracy” might just come to pass in the future.

      What a shame…

  • Vigilant

    And let me add that if Hillary Clinton gets high marks with all the criminal baggage she’s carrying around, I rest my case.

    • TIME

      V, Yet again a dead on post.

      Its truly Sad just how ignorant the population really is. Just look at any of the blog sights out there, by any I mean it makes no differance what side they fall on its all the same mindless dribbel over and over. Kind of like parrots, they speak but have no thought of their own.
      This sight is the best as it at least has a few dozen folks that grasp whats really going on.

      • Dennis

        Home boy you are so right. The public are lazy, and hung up on learning anything about our so called “guvment”.

      • Norm

        This sight is like one big circle jerk, or more politely like a narrow-minded religious coven. Thinking is not required and is, in fact, belittled by childish remarks and name calling.

        • Vigilant

          And what better proof do you need than your remarks. Thanks for proving my point.

        • (WIA) Wild Indian in Action

          Speaking for yourself again, Normie?

          • http://naver samurai

            Norm knows a lot about cicle jerks. He’s always the man in the middle. Now Norm you know darn well that you do some name calling too, so don’t throw stones since you live in a glass house. The Samurai’s quote of the day:

            “It is religion and morality alone, which we can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.” John Adams.

            Also rememer Norm, your side lost big last Tuesday and in 2012, the rest will be gone. FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

          • http://?? Joe H.

            samurai,
            I think he would be called a pivot mqan!!!

          • http://naver samurai

            Joe H., thanks for the laugh, fellow patriot! FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

        • timmym

          Then why do you come to this sight Norm ? we grant you your wish to never come back to this sight again , SEE YA wouldn’t want to BE YA !

    • Robert Smith

      Hey Vigilant!

      How are you?

      Let’s see… How’s bout hiring another horse trainer to head up FEMA?

      BTW, “opinion” has nothing to do with the quality of a job being done.

      These popularity polls are driven by the hawking and jabbering from the extreme right and their negative screeds. (The left does some too. I remember the daizy add against Goldwater.)

      Rob

      • 45caliber

        And your point is …?

      • http://naver sook young

        I seem to remember a television ad about a woman from California who lost her son in Iraq, but instead of treating him like a hero she decided to attack President Bush on the air. She was in no doubt in league with the liberals in California. When this didn’t work to her satisfaction, she threatened to run against Fienstien if Bush wasn’t impeached. Talk about being childish and unreasonable. Thank you.

        Sook Young
        Wife of the Samurai

        • Vigilant

          I think you’re talking about Cindy Sheehan of “Code Pink” fame.

        • 45caliber

          sook:

          Cindy Sheehan was a biological mother – in other words, she didn’t try to raise her son at all. He was raised entirely by his father after she abandoned him as a baby. When he was killed, she decided to get some publicity by raising Cain about it. At no time was she concerned about her son; she just wanted to use his death to become “famous” herself. She had another son by someone else and also abandoned him to his father when he was still a baby.

          • http://naver sook young

            Really? Thank you for the information as I didn’t know that. She sounds like an evil person, bad mother, and definately not a good American. Thank you.

            Sook Young
            Wife of the Samurai

    • 45caliber

      Unfortunately, you are right.

  • Denis Flaherty

    Electing Obummer proved how ignorant of politicians’ backgrounds many people are….

    • 45caliber

      Saddly, too many people get ALL their info from tv ads.

  • home boy

    sure we know them . they are one in the same. they are the true trinity, mindless , careless, and corrupt. one in the same. did you expect any less since their fearless leader is satan. changes are coming so stay awake.

    • TIME

      HB, You bring up a funny, a friend who passed on a few years back who had a comment he used that is just so dead on as far as politic’s.

      “They just change the heads – but the content is alwasy the same.”

  • Robin from Arcadia, IN

    For the most part, Americans are a lazy lot. It takes some listening, and some research to know what is going on. The reason Hillary gets high marks is because the Clinton name has been in politics for some time and people recognize it. There is a good chance that if they are not keeping up on things that they only know the name and not the history!

    • TIME

      Robin, Thats called “BRANDING,” yes thats really how the game works.

      Ask most anyone about a product if the name is not known to them its not worth the effort to research, its far less effort to just go by Name BRAND. And in some cases thats not a bad idea as some products are really well made and last a lifetime.

    • Bus

      maybe Hillary’s popularity is because she is never in the country and doing less harm to us. Perhaps that’s why Obama set sail with his fleet for a 10 multi hundred million tour of Asia. I hope they keep him.

      • 45caliber

        He is sure worried about his security! He wants a mile long tunnel to visit a museum rather than riding in his armored limo?? 200 million a DAY in expenses?

      • Kat

        Hillary IS doing harm to us. She’s a member of the Bildeberg group! They want one new world order. They want the middle class wiped out & the poor/sick/elderly/unhealthy dead. These have been proven facts NOT theories! We also have first hand experience with the illegal socialist that calls himself our President! He never answered to his constituants & when we learned he was running for President, I told my spouse that our country was in trouble if idiots vote for him. Need I say more?

      • http://naver samurai

        Bus, I’ll agree that her being out of the country a lot, but that is a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that we don’t have to look at her or listen to her, but the bad thing is that it costs the taxpayers a lot of money for her being constantly abroad. Just think, in 2 more years her ability to run for office will be done and she’ll never be heard from again. FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

  • Deborah

    Well, I agree there are a lot of ignorant people in the states that hasn’t got a clue what is heading straight for them.
    However, every man or woman that stands still for even a second around me is informed. What they do with the information, often rolling of the eyes, soon becomes their reality once they get home and their eyes witnesses the devastation done by Hillary, Bill, Pole Cat PukeOski, Boxer, Reid, Obama, and all the other brotherhood supporters in washington.
    Amazing how word of mouth travels!
    Chip? When we gonna get good news? Who do you think still supports the American people?

  • Norman Taber

    Hello,
    How would the econony be without the large banks to facilitate exchanges? Where would you control your wealth? How would one control the cheating that has taken place by the wealthy? Why have the guilty been protected by the wealth of the corporations that they mismanaged? Why should they keep their wealth that was gained by mismanagement? Why should big business be given tax cuts when they went abroad to a cultures that cheated their poors and they could make a bigger profit than normal? The tax cuts would not be invested in the United States, but sent abroad to increase their won wealth with no increase in employment in the United States? Bill Gates and the Horical of Omaha are investing in economies with weak financial market systems.
    Large Texas oil corporations tried to buy California elections and the Republican candidates did the same. They supported receiving large tax reductions from California that would be invested abroad. Now we should give them everything that the California voters denied them? We have to support large foreign immigrations so the large corporations can hire them cheaper, while giving the lie that they are better trained and paying them less. We should support labor hours of 60 hours with 40 hours wages to give the large corporations the power to continue to cheat foreign laborer in their cultures that need to increase the local consumption?

    The election was the support by the “No Nothings” of large corporations that spent their stockholders wealth to dupe the voters. What was stolen needs to be replaced and not increased.

    Sincerely,

    Norman Taber, MS Accounting, Financial

    • Vigilant

      May I inquire what your posting has to do with the subject we were talking about?

      Sincerely,

      Vigilant
      BSBA, American, Veteran, Someone who Knows how to Stay on Subject

      • eddie47d

        He may be off subject but also hit the nail on the head. I know allot of good Democrats so it does get tiring listening to some of the one sided follies that get posted. Republicans love their pork too but you won’t get them to admit it unless it can get them voted back in. I could take or leave Pelosi and the same with Barton of Tx. If a political name is brought up I usually know who 95% are. Some I could care less about (Robt. Byrd and sometimes Newt Gingrich). There are political figures who don’t know squat on financial issues and some who are clueless on social issues.

  • Norm

    “I really want to see that we can come together and agree upon the notion that Washington doesn’t need more revenues right now,” Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
    What the f**k!! Are Republican deficits better than Democrat deficits?
    HYPACRACY!

    • 45caliber

      They aren’t any better … but they are usually smaller.

      • http://naver samurai

        Right on, fellow patriot! Maybe starting next year the deficit will shrink with the overturning of Obama bin Laden care, cap and trade, etc. We should also get rid of the welfare state we have now, since it takes up more than half of our yearly budget. FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

      • Norm

        45caliber
        The next few years should be interesting, The Dems have the Senate and the Presidency and the Reps have the house.
        The Reps:
        Won’t raise taxes on the very rich.
        Won’t touch SS or Medicare.
        Can’t overturn Obamacare.
        Won’t cut Military spending or end the wars.
        The only positive is cutting earmarks and laying off employees. This amounts to very little in the big picture. Mitch is one of the biggest earmarkers going by the way.

        • http://naver samurai

          You just keep thinking those thoughts about can’t touch Obama bin Laden care. The case is moving up through the ranks of the courts now and may make it to the SCOTUS next year. Second, if that doesn’t work, the GOP have enough votes to defund it. You know, its there just no money going into it? Thirdly, if that doesn’t work, the states can declare their rights under the 10th Amendment and nullify Obama bin Laden care in their states. Fourthly, Obama bin Laden care is a violation of the Commerce Act. You know the Act that says that the government cannot force or make it mandatory for the people to buy something. Sorry Norm, but starting next year many of Obama bin Laden’s programs will be toast. FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

  • L Isle

    Me thinks “we are all ignorant but on different subjects”
    The subject of the USA and WHO is in charge and WHO is trying to change it from what was meant to be is probably the most important item we all need to try and get on the correct page. What is the correct page? That is what you need to learn.

  • TimO

    Isn,t it strange that the evil wealthy have kept this country running for over three hundred years. From those evil wealthy white guys that wrote the constitution, and then put their lives, their families lives, and their fortunes on the line, to those evil tax paying job creators of today. GOD bless the wealthy. I hope that the left leaning leaches of today don’t destroy the hard working American people’s chances of joining their ranks. NO WEALTH = MORE POVERTY

    • eddie47d

      You speak of “left leaning leaches” but you didn’t mention right leaning leaches. Our Founding Fathers set a good example for the most part of being wealthy and sacrificing for the Nation. They were sensitive to the well being of others and knew this new country wouldn’t survive without the help of patriots from all walks of life. About 20 years after our Constitution was written Americans got the greedy itch and hasn’t stopped to this day. We took and manipulated from sea to shining sea and beyond. The wealthy had visions of wealth and stepped on many toes to achieve their ill gotten gains. They were takers(for themselves) and not givers.They used the American worker like last weeks newspaper to build their wealth. Their wealth seldom trickled down and the workers had to always be on the move.That was a sure guarantee of staying poor. In the mid 1950′s we had a period of prosperity and most Americans benefited from that. There was a true sense of progress and economic stability. The wealthy were more respected and the citizens felt patriotic and important. That period lasted 20-40 years depending on who you talk to. Greed started to creep back in with the savings and loan scandals and the Enron mentality. Then the big kahuna hit with the housing market and more financial troubles. A few wealthy got burnt but most grabbed their ill gotten gains and took the American people for a long ride. You may feel obligated to the wealthy and some are true Americans…but I don’t want or need their self importance. Too many of them are nothing more than pirates taking advantage of our great nation and leaving little in return.

      • 45caliber

        Include the left rich people like Soros in your list too and you will be closer to the truth.

        • http://naver sook young

          Can I also include the names of wealthy democrats like the Kennedys, Rockefellers, Bill Gates, the Clintons, the Gores, John Kerry (Though it is his wife’s money.), etc? If you are going to talk bad about those to the right, you should also talk about the ones on the left. Thank you.

          Sook Young
          Wife of the Samurai

      • (WIA) Wild Indian in Action

        Eddie69d, Eduardo for your information it started before 1492.

      • eddie47d

        I didn’t mention either Democrats or Republicans in my comment but I have mentioned Soros and the Koch brothers in the same breath in other comments.

  • http://usintel.net Bill from Laos

    You all sell your countrymen short! Yes, some
    are ignorant and refuse to think; others feel there’s
    nothing they can do, while most of us are too
    busy with our own lives to pay attention to what’s
    going on around us. BUT things are starting to come
    around as was demonstrated on Nov. 2nd. The
    question is now do we have the constitution, the
    depth of faith and stamina to see this resurrection
    of spirit to the logical conclusion? We are being
    assaulted from several sides – most from within by
    domestic enemies and backed by big money. The
    push is on by the central bankers – The Fed -
    international socialists led in this country by George
    Soros, and carried out by loyal puppets on the take -
    Resident Obama and the Progressive aka communist
    minions in Congress & the courts. We have our work
    cut out for us. “Dare to Think!”

    • 45caliber

      But to a liberal/progressive, thinking is HARD work!

      • http://naver sook young

        Wouldn’t thinking require them to possess a brain or some kind of mental capability? Thank you.

        Sook Young
        Wife of the Samurai

  • http://com i41

    Normie, if this site sands your nano mind, why do you keep coming back? You must be getting a free factual education on different aspects of this nation, instead ofthe theoritical crap you paid thru the rear and learn nada, but more socialist bildge. You are just a liberal demorat pup, in another 2 years your eyes will be wide open, and will see the NMCDUP, isn’t a smart group to hang with and spout their crap.

  • Howard Roark

    private response for Vigilant. I am working full time and no longer have the time to catch up to you and respond.

    What caused the Civil War. You say Slavery and I say that slavery was a factor but not the primary reason. You pointed out that the article i referenced was written by a southern sympathizer. see below an article by Walter Williams who is an African American Professor of economics at George Mason University. He is certainly no southern sympathizer. I can produce more articles by different people but then you can also produce articles in retribution.

    Lets step back and once again look at the question “What caused the civil War” The first thing we need to understand is that it was not a civil war. a civil war happens when two or more factions are attempting to take over the same Government. A better name would be the war between the States or the war for Southern independence.

    It was never the intention of the South to defeat and occupy the north. the South wanted to defeat the North and make the north just leave them alone.

    It was always the intention of the north to fefeat; occupy; and force the south to rejoin the union. it is here that we find the real reason for the war. in a nutshell did the south have the right to secede from the union. (the Constitution is not a suicide pact)

    When the south did secede the question came up immediately. the chief justice of the Supreme Court told Lincoln that it was the duty of the Supreme Court to decide if Secession was constitutional(decided by Madison v Mallbery) and he (the chief justice) believed it was constitutional.

    Lincoln who was unhappy with the Dread Scott decision (Lincoln wanted the Court to be activist and rule that slavery was unconstitutional when at the time it actually was)became an unconstitutional despot and by abusing his power prevented the Supreme Court from ruling on the issue. (the question has not been legally answered to this day)

    So Abraham Lincoln was responsible for the war. because he illegally blocked a Supreme Court decision (he did not like the probable outcome of the decision)he prevented the Supreme Court from performing its duty in ruling that the south had every right to seceed from the Union.

    Had the Constitution prevailed, the south would have legally seceded. there would not have been a war, and in time slavery would have died on its own.

    Walter Williams article below:

    Jewish World Review /Dec. 2, 1998 /13 Kislev, 5759

    Walter Williams

    The Civil War wasn’t about slavery

    THE PROBLEMS THAT LED TO THE CIVIL WAR are the same problems today —- big, intrusive government. The reason we don’t face the specter of another Civil War is because today’s Americans don’t have yesteryear’s spirit of liberty and constitutional respect, and political statesmanship is in short supply.

    Actually, the war of 1861 was not a civil war. A civil war is a conflict between two or more factions trying to take over a government. In 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was no more interested in taking over Washington than George Washington was interested in taking over England in 1776. Like Washington, Davis was seeking independence. Therefore, the war of 1861 should be called “The War Between the States” or the “War for Southern Independence.” The more bitter southerner might call it the “War of Northern Aggression.”

    Honest Abe
    History books have misled today’s Americans to believe the war was fought to free slaves.

    Statements from the time suggest otherwise. In President Lincoln’s first inaugural address, he said, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so.”

    During the war, in an 1862 letter to the New York Daily Tribune editor Horace Greeley, Lincoln said, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery.” A recent article by Baltimore’s Loyola College Professor Thomas DiLorenzo titled “The Great Centralizer,” in The Independent Review (Fall 1998), cites quotation after quotation of similar northern sentiment about slavery.

    Lincoln’s intentions, as well as that of many northern politicians, were summarized by Stephen Douglas during the presidential debates. Douglas accused Lincoln of wanting to “impose on the nation a uniformity of local laws and institutions and a moral homogeneity dictated by the central government” that “place at defiance the intentions of the republic’s founders.” Douglas was right, and Lincoln’s vision for our nation has now been accomplished beyond anything he could have possibly dreamed.

    A precursor for a War Between the States came in 1832, when South Carolina called a convention to nullify tariff acts of 1828 and 1832, referred to as the “Tariffs of Abominations.” A compromise lowering the tariff was reached, averting secession and possibly war. The North favored protective tariffs for their manufacturing industry. The South, which exported agricultural products to and imported manufactured goods from Europe, favored free trade and was hurt by the tariffs. Plus, a northern-dominated Congress enacted laws similar to Britain’s Navigation Acts to protect northern shipping interests.

    Shortly after Lincoln’s election, Congress passed the highly protectionist Morrill tariffs.

    That’s when the South seceded, setting up a new government. Their constitution was nearly identical to the U.S. Constitution except that it outlawed protectionist tariffs, business handouts and mandated a two-thirds majority vote for all spending measures.

    The only good coming from the War Between the States was the abolition of slavery. The great principle enunciated in the Declaration of Independence that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” was overturned by force of arms. By destroying the states’ right to secession, Abraham Lincoln opened the door to the kind of unconstrained, despotic, arrogant government we have today, something the framers of the Constitution could not have possibly imagined.

    States should again challenge Washington’s unconstitutional acts through nullification. But you tell me where we can find leaders with the love, courage and respect for our Constitution like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John C. Calhoun.

    • eddie47d

      Good article,but if “all men are created equal” then the war between the states probably would have happened at some point anyway. Irregardless of the other issues and if the South had succeeded from the Union and formed a separate nation then there would have eventually been a Southern Civil War. I can’t imagine blacks remaining slaves forever so they would have rebelled and the North would probably have jumped in at that point also. So it all comes back to slavery.

      • 45caliber

        You failed to notice the comment above: The slaves would have been freed sooner or later. And that was true. It was too expensive to own a slave. You have to provide food, clothing, and shelter for them. And they were too expensive to not give them good medical care as well. If you paid them $20 a month (the normal pay then), they had to pay for all of that by themselves. And, since their ancestors had been slaves even in Africa for thousands of years, it is very doubtful that they alone would ever have rebelled.

      • (WIA) Wild Indian in Action

        Eddie 69d, “irregardless” public school edumacation, huh Eduardo?

    • 45caliber

      I agree. Also a good part of that “rebellion” was due to economics. Congress had passed a law in the late 1700′s that allowed them to set maximum prices by farmers to insure the city people could afford food. The merchants in the North had the market locked on manufactured goods being sold in the South and they required the South to sell all their farm goods including tobacco and cotton to them in the North. When the South tried to sell to Europe and buy from there, the North instituted the tarrifs to stop the South – and maintain their profits of course.

      Lincoln pushed for FEDERAL government. Until then, the government could only handling things like war, statemanship, and commerce between states. He and others wanted a central FEDERAL government to tell the states what to do.

      When the South began to consider building factories of their own (when coal and iron ore were discovered at Mobile, AL), the North passed some quick measures that banned the South from doing that. At that time the South declared their independence.

      If allowed to become independent, it was likely that the North would lose all states in the West including Ohio and all westward of it. The merchants would lose their controlled markets as well. So war was a requirement among those of the North. Slavery, almost a non-issue in the South (less than 1300 slave owners) was used in the North as a way to convince the Northern soldiers that they had a cause to fight for.

      • http://naver samurai

        State’s rights were also an issue, edduh! Remember the 10th Amendment to the Constitution? FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

  • http://com i41

    If all men are created equal then what the hell do we have affermiative action, reservations, and sacuary cities and several groups that get special favors. As for American not being familar with who is in goverment. It is all the basket weaving courses, video games, stupid school officals, and the main problem, the socialist progressive professors in the fag arts colleges, who cann’t give a rats behind care of anything but marxist communist ideology. Ask any 6-8th grader students or their parents, who some elected officals are, and you will get a shrug or a blank look. Our teachers follow the basket weaving and feel good bildge courses, that is expected to fill in the day at school, besides sports for a few. Schools don’t teach history as it was, but what liberals want, no civics training, no government classes, either state or federal government. Plenty of 3rd world and EU crap systems that have failed, but will not prove why the American system is still the best of all.

    • 45caliber

      Because if the Democrats insisted that everyone was equal, they wouldn’t be allowed to give these people the money to buy the votes they need.

      I’ve always said that the minority groups should actually consider that the GOP is saying they are equal while the Dems are saying they are not equal because they need special things to make them equal.

      But those minorities can’t see that far.

    • James

      i41, When Thomas Jefferson stated “all Men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence, he was repeating a centuries old Christian saying, but he obviously didn’t believe or practice that. The Bible doesn’t say that, either, however many priests and pastors say otherwise.

  • James

    A few days ago, a political pundit attributed this statement to now Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner: “In our system of government, the President creates the agenda, then submits it to Congress for their discussion.”
    What does that tell us about Mr. Boehner? Do you agree with such a system, or react to it?

    • Vigilant

      James,

      Boehner was just telling it like it is. He was talking about tradition, not a legal requirement. Whether the system is appropriate, I’m not prepared to say. But chief executives of corporations as well do it pretty much the same way (but with more autthority than the President).

      • James

        Vigilant, I agree Mr. Boehner was just telling it like it is. However, our government is not a corporation, where agendas are expected to originate from the top down. The Executive Branch of the national government is simply supposed to execute the laws passed by the Legislative Branch, not create an agenda for Congress to follow. The House of Representatives is supposed to ‘represent’ their constituents, not the President. The people are to provide the agenda, Congress then enacts what the majority wants, and the President then executes those laws. Thus, the President is not the head of our government, it is supposed to be a government of, by and for the people. If there is disagreement in what the President wants, and what the people want, congress is supposed to represent the people.

  • Cathy

    But these Americans all know who “The Situation” or Snokie are, who won the last American Idol prize, who’s pregnant in Hollywood, all about Lost or Survivor, yada yada.

    Just so you know, I don’t know a thing about the above subjects. And don’t wanna know. :)

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