Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Elected officials dumber than a box of rocks

That should come as no surprise to anyone, and mind you, it's in reference to a test that they agreed to take from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute:

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

"It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.

"How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience?" he added.

The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.

Among the questions asked of some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including "self-identified elected officials," was one which asked respondents to "name two countries that were our enemies during World War II."

Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain.

Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

Asked about the electoral college, 20 percent of elected officials incorrectly said it was established to "supervise the first televised presidential debates."

In fact, the system of choosing the US president via an indirect electoral college vote dates back some 220 years, to the US Constitution.

The question that received the fewest correct responses, just 16 percent, tested respondents' basic understanding of economic principles, asking why "free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government's centralized planning?"

Activities that dull Americans' civic knowledge include talking on the phone and watching movies or television -- even news shows and documentaries, ISI said.

Meanwhile, civic knowledge is enhanced by discussing public affairs, taking part in civic activities and reading about current events and history, the group said.

For the record we both took the test after locating it. (The news story offered no link to it.) I scored an 87, Marcie nailed a 91 (she is the brains here though I don't know why she doesn't believe it). But it's telling when those we have elected score so disgustingly low when it comes to the subjects of history, civics, and the economy. After all:

-- Those who do not listen to the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them.

-- We trust these people know what the Constitution says and means.

-- And we trust these people to know how the economy best operates.

Yet they fail a test that touches on all three of the important aspects of being an elected representative to this nation. And no, the ISI didn't release a list of names with scores so we could see just exactly who the dim-bulbs are in the government. It's amusing to speculate though. I wonder if Barry took it, and if he did, what was his score? After all, based on what we know of his education, it's likely he didn't fair too well.

Publius II


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