Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tired of Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils?

Now you might have differing opinions from mine on which political party constitutes the lesser evil, or has the less-informed candidates, but odds are you're not happy with either party in Washington right now. So, what's a concerned voter to do? If you're irritated enough, perhaps you could push for voting citizens and candidates to pass the same citizenship test that new immigrants must pass if they wish to become legal citizens.

Quick! Without using Google or a textbook or asking anybody, see how many of the following questions you can answer:

A: Principles of American Democracy
1. What is the supreme law of the land?
2. What does the Constitution do?
3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words? 4. What is an amendment?
5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?
7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?
8. What did the Declaration of Independence do?
9. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?
10. What is freedom of religion?
11. What is the economic system in the United States?
12. What is the "rule of law"?
B: System of Government
13. Name one branch or part of the government.
14. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?
15. Who is in charge of the executive branch?
16. Who makes federal laws?
17. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?
18. How many U.S. Senators are there?
19. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?
20. Who is one of your state’s U.S. Senators now?
21. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
22. We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years?
23. Name your U.S. Representative.
24. Who does a U.S. Senator represent?
25. Why do some states have more Representatives than other states?
26. We elect a President for how many years?
27. In what month do we vote for President?
28. What is the name of the President of the United States now?
29. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?
30. If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?
31. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?
32. Who is the Commander in Chief of the military?
33. Who signs bills to become laws?
34. Who vetoes bills?
35. What does the President’s Cabinet do?
36. What are two Cabinet-level positions?
37. What does the judicial branch do?
38. What is the highest court in the United States?
39. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?
40. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?
41. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?
42. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power of the states?
43. Who is the Governor of your state now?
44. What is the capital of your state?
45. What are the two major political parties in the United States?
46. What is the political party of the President now?
47. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?
C: Rights and Responsibilities
48. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.
49. What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?
50. Name one right only for United States citizens.
51. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?
52. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?
53. What is one promise you make when you become a United States citizen?
54. How old do citizens have to be to vote for President?
55. What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?
56. When is the last day you can send in federal income tax forms?
57. When must all men register for the Selective Service?
A: Colonial Period and Independence
58. What is one reason colonists came to America?
59. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?
60. What group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves?
61. Why did the colonists fight the British?
62. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
63. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?
64. There were 13 original states. Name three.
65. What happened at the Constitutional Convention?
66. When was the Constitution written?
67. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.
68. What is one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for?
69. Who is the "Father of Our Country"?
70. Who was the first President?
B: 1800s
71. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?
72. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s.
73. Name the U.S. war between the North and the South.
74. Name one problem that led to the Civil War.
75. What was one important thing that Abraham Lincoln did?
76. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
77. What did Susan B. Anthony do?
C: Recent American History and Other Important Historical Information
78. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s.
79. Who was President during World War I?
80. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?
81. Who did the United States fight in World War II?
82. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?
83. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?
84. What movement tried to end racial discrimination?
85. What did Martin Luther King, Jr. do?
86. What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States?
87. Name one American Indian tribe in the United States.
A: Geography
88. Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States.
89. What ocean is on the West Coast of the United States?
90. What ocean is on the East Coast of the United States?
91. Name one U.S. territory.
92. Name one state that borders Canada.
93. Name one state that borders Mexico.
94. What is the capital of the United States?
95. Where is the Statue of Liberty?
B: Symbols
96. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?
97. Why does the flag have 50 stars?
98. What is the name of the national anthem?
C: Holidays
99. When do we celebrate Independence Day?
100. Name two national U.S. holidays.

There are other questions I'd be tempted to ask, like:

  • If the federal budget isn't balanced (that is, the government spends more than it takes in through taxes), where does the money come from to make up the difference?
  • What protections does the press enjoy under the Constitution?
  • What types of laws protect people from the press?
  • If a business makes a profit, who owns that money?
  • What are "Miranda rights?"
  • How does the War Powers Act limit the actions of the President?

Regardless, you might've read those questions and felt like it was a bad flashback to high school. And at that age, you might've asked, "Why do I have to know this stuff?" Because, quite frankly, if you don't, then you deserve the leaders you get. Once you know what the United States Government was formed to do, you can better form ideas about what it shouldn't do. And that's why we vote.

This nation cannot function well without an educated citizenry. We're not the first nation to be formed based upon an idea, but we might be the first that was based on the idea of freedom and representative government, and those premises have a lot of history and context behind them, which can easily be lost if the citizens don't have a clue about where they came from or what they mean.


Now, how would one go about getting this type of test proposed and enforced? What sorts of political difficulties would be involved? That would be an education all in itself.


By the way, the answers to questions 1-100 above can be found at If you want to know the answers to MY questions, well, you'll just have to go out and learn them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post and very timely. I do hope many begin paying attention and in their own privacy check up on any answers they don't know. A half year credit in Government is required for High School graduation but I don't suppose that means the students are actually LEARNING it. "We The People..." are responsible for what we get!