In light of the fact that the majority of my Facebook news feed now is made up of political news, in particular the 2016 Presidential Election, I decided to get a better understanding of American Government. During high school, I never took an interest in history courses. As a naïve teenager, I didn’t understand why past events were so important and frankly all the different wars and world leaders got jumbled together in my mind. I regret that I let that confusion turn into disinterest instead of using it as a motivator to better understand the information.
I recently discovered a free online learning platform, edx.org The site consists of many actual college course materials from various institutions that are available to study at your own pace on your own time. As someone who likes both flexibility and more importantly, free stuff, it is the perfect platform for me to learn new skills and information. When I saw there was an American Government course, I knew I had to take it to make up for my naughtiness in high school.
So far, I have completed the first two sections, which included Political Culture and Limited Government. I enjoyed learning more about the founding fathers in the first section and the most interesting fact I learned was that Adams and Jefferson did not agree on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. While Jefferson interpreted it to mean democracy for all, including foreign nations, Adams interpreted it to mean Independence for America. I also did not realize that they both died on the same day, July 4, 1826. It seems like their deaths were a symbol of their importance to the foundation of America. In the Limited Government Section, the discussion focused on James Madison and the Federalist Papers, which detailed the importance of the Separation of Powers. One example included the Watergate Scandal, where the Legislative Branch (Congress) and Judicial Branch (Supreme Court) served as a check of power against the Executive Branch (President Nixon and his cabinet). Congress filed suit for President Nixon to release the tapes he was withholding and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Congress, ordering Nixon to release the tapes. Another interesting tidbit in this section was that because of the U.S. immigration policy at the time of the Titanic tragedy, several Chinese crew survivors were detained immediately upon arrival to America and sent to Cuba; thus never being allowed to set foot on American soil.
As I am learning this information, I find myself wanting to know more details. I still have 23 more sections to go, so we’ll see if I’m still saying that as I get further along. For now, I am so glad I found this educational learning website. It is amazing that universities are willing to provide past course content for free so that those like me, aka. nerds, can become more well-rounded and better understand current events.