State of the Union Bingo

The game of bingo can be adapted for almost any purpose. Bingo is used in education to teach such basic skills as math, English, and foreign languages to name just a few. Music educators have found bingo to be a very effective tool to teach young children basic symbols and notes. There have been many strange variations such as ‘Bob Dylan’ bingo, Buzz word (or bullshit) bingo, and there is even a bingo game that was loaded on a spacecraft. Bingo has also been used for decades as a fundraising to State of the Union bingo. There are a few variations of this game based on political perspective and point of view. The game uses the traditional bingo card grid but substitutes political buzzwords for numbers. One version offered by the Philadelphia based National Constitution Center is designed to teach students about the annual State of the Union address and its meaning. As part of their homework assignment students are given a bingo card with such words and phrases as, bi partisan, Iraq, Oil, earmarks, climate change, and other current topics that are likely to be mentioned during the address. When any of these are mentioned the student marks the card until bingo is reached. This version of the game is politically neutral and is designed to instill an interest in the workings of government.

The Democratic Party offers another version which is surprisingly neutral. The cards contain words and phrases such as, democracy, safe haven, troops, threat, fear, and so on. The chips used in this version have a very unflattering image of President Bush. One website offers a version of state of the union bingo with over 100 card variations. This link will show an example of the cards used, http://www.ableplus.com/buzzwords/Bush_Bingo_Card_1.Html.

Many Americans are woefully ignorant about their government, its branches, and how it works. Many readers will remember when Jay Leno would go out in the street and ask average Americans very simple questions about their government. One show featured a section where Mr. Leno asked what the three branches of government are. Almost 3 out of 5 could not answer the question correctly. These are things that are supposedly taught in elementary school.

The State of the Union address is an important annual event. It is essentially a report from the executive branch on the nation’s performance for the previous year. With so many American citizens apathetic about the workings of their own government we should applaud any attempt to educate our young people about government and engage them in the political process.