I know I’ve expressed this sentiment before, but sometimes you just have to be impressed by ignorance. Mind-boggling, stupid, in your face ignorance. But then, we’re Americans. We’re pretty much capable of anything. At both ends of the intelligence spectrum.
So what have we done now? Or more correctly, not done? Pay attention in school, apparently.
An article in this weekend’s paper started out by describing the process that immigrants go through in the U. S. to gain citizenship. Part of that process is studying American history and government and then taking a test. A test that they have to pass. It’s not a hard test by any stretch – you just have to learn some of the basics. Most of the immigrants who take the test do very well.
Well, somebody decided to see how well us “natives” could do on the same test (without studying). Needless to say, we didn’t do so well. Pitiful, in fact. But there was one question that they used that just blew my mind (what little of it there is left at this point). And that question was this:
“Name the two parts of the U. S. Congress.”
A no-brainer, right? How could anyone who went through the American school system not be able to come up with the “Senate” and the “House of Representatives”? It’s kind of like asking somebody if the sun comes up in the east or the west. It doesn’t require much thought. You just know it.
Well maybe not. The article said that only 61% of the American respondents got it right. The rest – the other 39% – didn’t have a clue.
In other words, just about 2 in 5 Americans in their test sample must have missed that class back in high school or grammar school or wherever the hell some teacher might have mentioned it. Amazing.
Maybe we should give this test to people before we let them vote. If they don’t pass, they can’t vote. The problem with that, of course, is that only about half of all eligible voters actually vote. If we make those people take a test, and if we can apply that same proportion to the individuals who actually vote, we’re probably going to wind up with just a few folks deciding who gets to run things. Only 61% of the people who’d like to vote will pass the test.
But wait a minute. What am I talking about? Congress doesn’t do anything anyway. That’s probably why we don’t like them very much. Last I heard, they had about a 12% approval rating. They work for 3 days a week and then go home to raise money for their next election. And they get more recesses than my grandchildren get from school. You know, that place where they’re supposed to be learning what the two houses of congress are called.
Maybe it doesn’t matter who gets to pick ’em.