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Voter's Political Aptitude Test

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

If your financial well being depended solely on all the people that surround you in society, would you feel secure? Would you trust them with determining how best to spend your money? I think not. As a society, we have put into place methods of insuring competence by requiring the licensing of professions such as electricians, plumbers, and doctors. Their licenses let us know that they are proficient and qualified in their fields of expertise. It's alright for you not to know how money works or how a three-way light switch circuits work. It's alright as long as you're not sharing your ignorance with others. You serve society best by staying out of the discussion. Hopefully I've made my point that ignorance is acceptable as long as you don't participate in conversations of which you know nothing about. That's fine.

Here's my gripe: This morning, I opened up Yahoo News's webpage and the very first article that caught my eye stated, "Study: Few Americans Know 1st Amendment ". It would seem that more Americans can name characters from "The Simpsons" than they can name protected freedoms covered by the First Amendment. I'm not kidding! The article continues:

The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.


The survey found more people could name the three "American Idol" judges than identify three First Amendment rights. They were also more likely to remember popular advertising slogans.

It also showed that people misidentified First Amendment rights. About one in five people thought the right to own a pet was protected, and 38 percent said they believed the right against self-incrimination contained in the Fifth Amendment was a First Amendment right, the survey found.

The right to own a pet? Are you telling me that Americans really believe we fought a war against the British Empire over oppressive pet ownership laws?!? I believe we're surrounded by idiots!

This brings me to my point. Why would we allow these people to vote? Why are these people allowed to dictate where the ship of state goes when they don't even have the slightest familiarity with the very document that created our government? This would be like General Motors or Microsoft allowing the general public to make business decisions for them. How long do you suppose these companies would last if this same practice were allowed in determining their company's policies? I suspect not very long at all.

Why, then, would we allow a free-for-all in our voting process? Some have suggested that voting be restricted to landowners or other such qualifications. I say that the only qualification should be a political aptitude test. If you can't demonstrate more than a passing familiarity with our system of government, then you get no vote. By this method, only the truly informed get to make informed decisions. The ignorant need not apply.


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