To think civics, it is important to understand the definition of civics. Civics is the study of the rights, duties, privileges, and opportunities of citizenship. These four elements comprise much of what is stated in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Understanding civics contributes to an informed public, prosperous communities, and a strong Nation. The founding documents legitimize our American Dream of achieving a desirable and durable quality of life.
To understand civics is also to have a citizen’s understanding of government. Our Federal and State governments are composed of the executive (president and governors), the legislature (senators and representatives), and the judiciary (higher courts that deal in constitutional matters rather than felonies and litigation). The Constitution describes the powers of each … job descriptions for those who govern us. These three “Estates” are essentially independent provinces and provide a system of checks and balances to prevent any one of the three from exceeding its Constitutional power.
In our form of government (a democratic republic) is also a Fourth Estate, the press, now referred to as the media with the rise of electronic communications and the decline in newspapers and magazines. There has always been biased in the media. The earliest newspapers were small local businesses owned by individuals. These independent publishers and editors chose what to print and not to print. By the end of the 19th Century, most newspaper publishing in the United States was controlled by two competing individuals, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Now, in the 2000’s the media industry is much more diverse yet still controlled by a few biased corporations, their executives, and their shareholders.
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech”
– Benjamin Franklin
ThinkCivics ADDRESSES THE SITUATION
Therein lies the challenge that faces all Americans. There are a huge demand and an enormous market for news. Hence oligarchs, plutocrats, and billionaires are able to control and profit from the news as well as guide personal and public opinions in the direction of their choosing. This is highly effective because people all over the world have appetites for the truth to guide them in their civic, personal, and sometimes spiritual, lives. Given the infodemic we now face, ThinkCivics asserts that Americans’ First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution are being violated and subverted by the following:
- Some elements of the media have failed to tell the public what is true and often mislead the public through omission and revision of news and events. Americans from both ends and all along the political spectrum perceive such inaccurate news to exist and to be intentional.
- Many Americans view the media as being biased, favors one side of an issue, and is pessimistic about the trustworthiness of its reporting.
- Americans view distrusted media as trying to ruin the country by affecting the perception of political leaders and editing the facts and figures that accompany issues and events.
- Social media plays a huge role in news dissemination and censorship. As social media was developed it was a forum for individuals to share all their opinions and perceived facts. The oligarchic rule now censors/removes/blocks political statements and facts with which they disagree.
- Americans get different facts depending on the sources of their news. Individuals working from different sets of facts are unlikely to build consensus and make beneficial decisions.
“The press is … definitely a power, but to misuse that power is criminal”
– Mahatma Gandhi
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