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Teaching Civics in the Time of Trump


Teaching Civics in the Time of Trump

Panyin Conduah

Many Americans are still going through a whirlwind of emotions as they process November’s election results and the dawning of Donald Trump’s presidency. Although, by the time the official tally is finished, Trump will likely have lost the popular vote by 2 full percentage points, the Electoral College will place him in the Oval Office when a joint session of Congress formally counts the votes in January.


As a retired lawyer (and former law professor) who spent six years helping an Indian tribal client get a land settlement bill through Congress, I believe that I am well qualified to teach a civics class on how our Government works. Here is my syllabus: Basically all you need to get a favorable result from Congress is to convince enough Senators and Congressmen that it is in their personal financial interests to vote in favor of your bill or at least not block its passage. The “convincing” process consists largely in providing monetary benefits to the necessary members of Congress in forms sufficiently sophisticated that your payments cannot be legally viewed as bribes. Don’t waste your time on the merits of your legislative proposal, because the merits have little or no impact on whether your legislation will be enacted by Congress. As a venerable Congressman from California advised me: “The Golden Rule of congressional ethics is that, once a member of Congress has been bought, he stays bought.” To the extent you need favorable action from the Executive Branch, follow the same ethical rules and tactics as with Congress. That’s how our Government works.


“…Writing the lyrics to the original series felt more like fun, than a job.”

Love of Learning promulgated by Unhindered, Unrestricted Love of Teaching.

Of course, their Goal was to INSTILL Love of Learning, not UNDERMINE it, like those in Power today.


Thanks for the article…appreciate all the thoughts…I’m an individual citizen…actually a nurse~ who after working on a Psychiatric Crisis unit evening shift, I came home to soak up all the late night comedy I could find. One that really made an impact was Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking”…While I laughed & found the wrong responses to history & geography questions wrong…I found it sobering. Then, I got tired of various pundits & politicians saying “Constitution this and that”…so I thought…I’d like to write a nonpolitical book full of facts, documents, sketches, etc. ~like a “cliff notes” reference guide for all ages~ to maybe make some sort of contribution to Civics Education. As we’ve seen in this last election cycle, so many do not remember or know some basic facts about how our government & system works. And it is this knowledge that is empowering to our citizens & can hopefully lead to smart decisions, civil discourse, desire to be civically engaged etc. So seeing this article made me want to share my story…I’m hoping to find a way to get my contribution out there so it may do some good. Reading about the “SchoolHouse Rock” way of teaching…well I actually wrote & (maybe not too good of a performer) recited a “Civics Education Poetry Rap”…I also made a hopefully inspiring short video too @ civics… (Both can be found on YouTube under M.B.Mac ) It’s never been clearer that we do need to empower our children & citizens with knowledge…Thanks to you all for all your contributions!..Mary B. Mackley, Author Americana A Civics Handbook Second Edition