The current political season is driving me crazy.
I have, for some time, joked that all candidates for public office should have to do two things : 1) Take the current SAT test and publish their scores, and 2) Take a basic civics test, like the one all immigrants seeking citizenship need to take, and have those grades published as well. (I think they need a passing grade on all 100 questions, not just ten, but I am a stickler for these things.) I’d even let them retake the test multiple times before election day to show improvement if they want.
I think it would force the candidates to understand what’s required of students these days to enter college. I think if you are going to make policy on education, you should have at least a recent experience with what education looks like on the ground floor, rather than some fond, nostalgic memories of what education was like when you were a kid and how perfect it was. (Or wasn’t, but that’s another debate all together). I think we should all know, roughly, whether the people hoping to run for office can write a paragraph, analyze basic text for meaning, and do basic math. Politicians need to be able to write legislation, persuade people of their opinions and dissect complex proposed laws and legislation for language and possible long term effects before deciding how to vote on it. I think they need to know enough math to balance a checkbook and understand how to parse statistics meaningfully. The SAT’s may not be a perfect test, but it might be unfair to ask them to take the GRE’s or other advance test, so the SAT’s or even a state’s mandated No Child Left Behind testing for high school seniors could substitute. The point remains the same however. If the candidate scores at the basic or below basic level on those tests, they should be disqualified from public office.
As for civics, the job of people in political office involves making decisions for the rest of us, on a micro and macro level. They should understand what the Constitution says, and for state legislators, the State constitution as well. They should know the basic content of the Bill of Rights, with extra points for all amendments thereafter to the Federal Constitution. Bonus points as well for being able to recite the pre-amble, which I can still do to this day, thanks to SchoolHouse Rock.
They need to understand the role of the three branches of Government, and just because you get elected, doesn’t mean you get your way- you still REPRESENT other people- and you have to take their families and future into account, not just your own. Take a sample citizenship test here. I found it easy enough, but then again, I went to law school- I should be able to pass it.
I just want the elected officials to take their job seriously, rather than assume because they have been elected, they have won the popularity contest and can now be the mean girl prom queen to the rest of the student body. No. Instead, with the great power people have invested in you, comes great responsibility to be engaged and do the right thing for everyone in your district, even if sometimes, it isn’t what you would do personally. You have to do what’s best for the people you represent, even if it’s not in your personal best interest. That’s the job. you have to believe that you are there to serve and protect those who need help and protection, not self-serve.
I don’t care what party the candidates come from. I am becoming a radical centrist every day, where what matters to me most is sanity and a willingness to make hard choices because it’s what we have to do, rather than run a “check one box: do you: ___like me ___hate me” kind of politics.
There are serious issues facing this Country and the world. We need serious, dedicated people to run them, not a side show. We need people who will stay up late reading policy and negotiating and debating, not a 9 to 5 job that requires very little homework.
Please Vote this Election Day. Make it happen. Make your voice heard. Do the right thing. Vote for who you think is the smartest person out there, not the cutest or most popular, the most likely to win- vote with your heart and choose who you trust the most, even if they aren’t perfect. Know that they will stand up for you even when it’s tough, because that’s who we need representing us. Warriors willing to do the tough thing, even when it’s unpopular, because it is the right thing to do.
Thank you. Back to your regularly scheduled day. I think my blood pressure is back to normal.