Time for a candidate’s civics test

The other night in my ESL class we talked, as we always do, about the upcoming election. My students are bemused by the whole process and, for the most part, amazed that someone like Donald Trump is an actual candidate. (If they’re amazed, their relatives in Europe are incredulous.)

Some in my class have not yet gained the right to vote, but we discussed in minor detail the citizenship test, and I joked with them that each presidential candidate should take it. The practice for the test comprises one-hundred questions; applicants are generally asked only ten and required to answer six correctly.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/30/us/4th-of-july-quiz-us-citizenship/

But I would hold presidential candidates to a higher standard. Out of those one-hundred questions, they should be able to answer one-hundred. Period. Not the measly 99 I answered. And by the way, if you know (and I didn’t) that there are 27 amendments to the Constitution, you will get 100.

(Twenty-seven amendments, huh? Who knew? Probably most people.)

So 99 disqualifies me from the presidency, I’ll admit it. But I want Mr. Trump to tell me the answers to the following six sample questions

1. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?
2. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
3. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power of the states?
4. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?
5.Who was President during World War I?
6. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

And then the other 94.

Let’s devote one debate to civics and American history, and press both candidates to answer every question. And if you think that my suggestion is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to embarrass Mr. Trump, you’re wrong. It’s not thinly veiled at all. Then again, if he’s so dead set on vetting everybody who enters into the United States (and as of yesterday, stopping and frisking everybody else) let’s see if he actually knows anything about the country he purportedly loves.

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Chuck Radda

I'm a former high school English teacher, currently a literacy volunteer and novelist. I invite your responses right here or to chuckradda@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter—where I tweet annually at @chuckrad45.

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