Cartoons versus the Constitution

by Jim Longworth

Thirty years ago America was awash in patriotism as we celebrated our Bicentennial.

I was so inspired by the festivities that I produced an interactive television documentary for WFMY titled, So You Think You Know the Constitution?

The format consisted of asking Constitution-related questions to men and women on the street, then challenging viewers to match the correct answers. Not so surprisingly, the broadcast revealed just how little we all knew about our most important document.

Yet, I had hoped that my efforts would reverse that trend. I was wrong.

Thirty years later, a nationwide poll has revealed that Americans know more about ‘“The Simpsons’” cartoon series than they do about the Constitution.

For example, most of us don’t know the names of our two US Senators, or that we even have two, or how often they stand for re-election.

Most of us don’t know our basic civil rights, which probably explains why we didn’t care that George Bush engaged in illegal wiretapping.

And, here in the Land of the Free, we have the lowest voter turnout of any civilized nation in the world.

This is an election year in which every congressman and every state legislator is hoping to be rehired in November. And so this is a good time to read your Constitution, and to familiarize yourself with any and all candidates running for office in your district. In fact, the May 2 primary is just around the corner, so why not start researching the people who are going to be deciding how your tax dollars are spent, which schools get built, and what we can do to stop illegal immigration?

Don’t get me wrong. I love ‘“The Simpsons,’” and Homer is the most comical TV philosopher since Archie Bunker. But there’s nothing funny about a cartoon garnering more space in our brain than the document that allows us the freedom to use that brain.

Cartoons are great. I just wish we would all be more animated about our rights and privileges.

Jim Longworth is host of ‘“Triad Today’” which can be seen Friday mornings at 6:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7), and Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on UPN48 (cable channel 14).