Staying informed is America’s responsibility

American citizens have a right to know about the things happening in their government. Considering all of the news hype on the Benghazi scandal, IRS targeting conservative groups and AP records scandal — it is surprising how many people do not know, or care, what is happening.

Since news of the scandals came out, many news media groups have been taking polls on the opinions of American citizens. These polls often include questions about the scandals, how much people care about the scandals and if they think the government is taking proper action.

According to statistics found on www.Gallup.com, 54 percent of Americans are following the IRS situation and 53 percent are following the Benghazi hearings. 24 percent are not following either situation at all. The remaining percentages of Americans know of the scandals, but are not following them.

According to polls taken by the Washington Post, only 37 percent of Americans are “somewhat concerned” and 32 percent are “very concerned” about protecting information from the government that would intrude on the freedom of the press after the Benghazi and IRS situations.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, there are about 260 million U.S. citizens.

This means there are about 140 million Americans following the IRS and Benghazi sitations. 91 million are concerned about the government intruding on the freesom of the press.

This information is disturbing.

Although 53 and 54 percent are a slim majority, it is not enough that about half of American citizens know, or care about what is happening in their own government. It is not enough that 37 or 32 percent are concerned for freedom of the press.

As citizens we vote on who makes the decisions that will determine our future for more than just 53 or 54 percent of the people; those decisions affect everyone, 100 percent of the people.

We must remember the advice our Founding Fathers gave us concerning our freedoms.

George Washington once said, “Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.” He also said that, “Nothing can be more hurtful to the service than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army the superiority over another.”

What was Washington trying to tell early American citizens? He was telling them that the neglect of citizens causes governments to make poor decisions. It is better to take responsibility to prevent certain events from happening than to sit and wait for something to happen.

“Without a strong and independent Fourth Estate, the American people will only recieve the information the government wants them to hear,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts in an article on www.cognoscenti.wburorg.

This means there needs to be another group invovled with the government to keep them in check, much like checks and balances. That group is the American people.

We have a responsibility as American citizens to know and care about what is going on. If we do not, then we are voting on blind faith.

The decisions made in government not only affect everyone alive now, but future citizens as well. Do we really want to pass down a country of irresponsibility and blind faith to our children? It is selfish for us not to think ahead.

Americans should know what is happening and take action on the situations at hand. There are many ways to become more involved. Facebook and Twitter offer news pages that people can follow. Smartphones have an AP news app that automatically updates on a regular basis. Newspapers have become easier to access with digital subscriptions available on mobile devices.

According to the State of the Media website, digital editions of newpapers have grown because of their availability through mobile devices.

“The Newspaper Association of America offered the summary statistic in December that mobile traffic (tablet and phones) was up 65 percent in a year as measured by page views, comparing September 2011 to September 2010,” according to the State of the Media website.

According to the CNBC website, the United States collectively spent 121 billion minutes on social media sites in July of 2012. That equals 230,060 years on just social media.

According to USA Today, statistics taken from comScore, an internet analysis company, the website that Americans spend the majority of their time on is Facebook. Others are Google and YouTube.

With all of these resources at the touch of a fingertip, and with the amount of time people spend on social sites that offer news sources, staying informed is easy.

There is no excuse for American citizens to not be informed.

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