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Build your civics arsenal

| April 16, 2010 9:00 PM

Everybody's got an opinion. The ones worth consideration, though, are opinions built on the firm foundation of facts.

Everybody's got an opinion.

The ones worth consideration, though, are opinions built on the firm foundation of facts.

The political maelstrom raging around us tests not only citizens' convictions, but their understanding of government and how the world works. And too many citizens fail those tests. Why else would they be asking the Kootenai County Commission candidates their stance on abortion? Why else would they demand a congressional candidate fix a state problem or a state legislative candidate impose upon a municipal issue?

What's needed now is more fact behind opinions. If we may be so bold as to suggest it, perhaps more fact would alter the course of some of those opinions.

Thankfully, one of our region's most articulate advocates for civics literacy, former Congressman George Nethercutt, is determined to raise the civics IQ wherever he can. In 2008 he founded the George R. Nethercutt Foundation for just that purpose, and just two days ago he published his first book devoted to that cause.

He'll be visiting The Press today from 2 to 5 p.m. to sign copies of "In Tune With America," which chronicles songs that have told our national story and concludes with startling information about the growing number of Americans who lack knowledge about their nation's history, economics, public policy and government.

"Americans are less knowledgeable about what makes us great, what makes our country special and exceptional," Nethercutt said last month in Coeur d'Alene. "If you don't know that, how do you know what to perpetuate?"

We invite you to come visit with Mr. Nethercutt and co-author Tom McArthur today. You don't have to buy a book, but if you do, know that proceeds go to the foundation, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization created to support students interested in economics, history, politics and civic leadership. The Nethercutt Foundation awards fellowships to college students, providing five months of academic, civics-aimed education, and then brings them to Washington, D.C., for two weeks.

No matter where you are on life's learning curve, a little effort invested in improving your knowledge and understanding is always a good thing. Us older folks can even claim we knew it all once but just forgot.

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