Let’s Raise the Bar …

I have an idea that I would like to propose: Any candidate running for federal office – either Congress or President/Vice President – should have to take and pass the U.S. Citizenship test.  It should be requisite.  If it were, I can guarantee you that Donald Trump would not be in the Oval Office today, for much of the citizenship test pertains to history and the U.S. Constitution, and Donald Trump is relatively illiterate in both areas.  A few examples of his grasp on historical details:

  • Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president [Macron], so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death.
  • “I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw with regard to the Civil War, he said ‘There’s no reason for this.’ People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”  (Jackson died 16 years before the beginning of the Civil War)
  • “I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things. Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”   

And those are but a few examples of Trump’s grasp of history.  Nada.  I knew more by 4th grade than he knows at age 72.  Why?  Did they not teach history in that fancy military school his daddy sent him to?  Or was he simply not smart enough to learn?  Sad.

Back in May 2016, I wrote a piece titled Why Goats Can’t Vote, about the U.S. Citizenship test and how only 62% of U.S.-born citizens can pass the test.  One of the comments on that initial post was from my UK friend Bushka:

“Always been amazed by this phenomenon…Even Presidents are known to lack such simple knowledge…..No Names!!!”

Fitting, don’t you think?  I was thinking about this tonight and I thought it might be interesting to see just how Trump would fare.  Let’s give him a few questions and see how he does, shall we?  The following are actual questions from previous citizenship tests. Trump’s answers are in his favourite colour, red.

What is the supreme law of the land?
the Supreme Court 
the Bill of Rights
the Declaration of Independence
the Constitution

The correct answer is “the Constitution”.

The idea of self-government in in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?
We the Government
The President is
We the People
The Founding Fathers

The correct answer is “We the People”.

Citizenship Study Questions 1-20
What is an amendment?
a change (to the Constitution)
an addition (to the Constitution)
both a and b
none of the above

The correct answer is “both a and b”.

What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
The Bill of Rights
The Ten Commandments
The Bill of Laws
The Preamble to the Constitution

The correct answer is “The Bill of Rights”.

What is freedom of religion?
Religion has power over the government
You can force anyone to participate in your religion
You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion
Religion should not exist, and all citizen should be free from it

The correct answer is “You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion”.

What is the “rule of law”?
Everyone must follow the law, except the leaders
Everyone must follow the law, except the government
Only Congress is above the law
Everyone must follow the law, leaders and government must obey the law, and no one is above the law.

The correct answer is “Everyone must follow the law, leaders and government must obey the law, and no one is above the law”.

Well, well, well … looks like Bushka was right, eh?  To his credit, Trump got #3 half right, so I can give him a half point, which brings his score up to 8%.  This ‘man’ could not even become a citizen of the nation he is in charge of! I was pleased that I got them all right … I actually took 20 of them and got them right … so even I am more qualified to be president than Donald Trump!  Hmmmm …

Seriously though, folks … I understand why the framers of the Constitution set very few eligibility requirements for president:  one must be 35 years of age, a resident “within the United States” for 14 years, and a “natural born Citizen”.  That was in 1787, and the framers already knew they were writing the rules for George Washington to become the first president. Looking to the future, they set the age requirement in order to ensure a mature man (women weren’t even allowed to vote or own property back then, so they didn’t count) would be elected.  The citizenship requirement was simply to keep Alexander Hamilton, who was born in the West Indies, from becoming president.  Our constitution is an 18th century one developed for a newly independent British colony.  And it worked well for a number of years.  But this is the 21st century and times have changed.  Just as we amended the Constitution to allow women to vote and to abolish slavery, it is time we amend it to set a higher standard for the presidency.

Until the Trump presidency, we didn’t question the eligibility requirements, for we had men who were well qualified, who had studied not only law, but also English grammar and history.  But today that is not the case.  Take a look at a few recent presidents:

  • Bill Clinton had a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University, a Juris Doctorate (JD) from Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes Scholar. In addition, he had experience in government, having served as Governor of Arkansas for 11 years.
  • George W. Bush had a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in history from Yale University, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School, and he had served as Governor of Texas from 1995-2000.
  • Barack Obama double-majored in college, earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and English Literature from Columbia University, graduated magna cum laude with a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School, served as an Illinois State Senator from 1997-2004, and as a U.S. Senator from 2005-2008.

Compare to Donald Trump who has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Wharton School of Business, four draft deferments, nearly 6,000 lawsuits, numerous sexual misconduct allegations, and six bankruptcies to add to his résumé.  No relevant education, no relevant experience.  What were people thinking when they voted for him?

There are portions of the U.S. Constitution that need to be updated.  The electoral college is one, and I will cover that in a future post, but the qualifications for the head of the government, the man with the most power, seriously need to be upgraded and brought into the 21st century, preferably before the 2020 election.  At the very least I would expect degrees in political science and/or international relations, and at least four years relevant experience.  This nation cannot afford another Donald Trump, or even another four years of this one.  Let’s raise the bar.

24 thoughts on “Let’s Raise the Bar …

  1. Jill, the bought an Edsel from the consummate sales person. How a man who has put hundreds of people out of business by refusing to pay them forcing them to sue him can portray himself as the benefactor of the common man is stunning. How a man who is one of the most untruthful people this side of Vladimir Putin can convince his followers he tells the truth, is even more stunning. How a man who violates everything Jesus stood for can be deemed “ordained by God” by some evangelicals is even more strange.

    Trump does not know history as he is not a student of any topic. He is supposed to be a financial guru, but he does not understand trade or tariffs (these are not my words, but his staff’s). He was given the keys to a pretty good economy, borrowed from the future to make it a little better, but we are seeing signs of trouble next year.

    Hillary ran a horrible campaign and did not stick to her knitting. But, she would have still won if it were not for James Comey’s late announcement. Trump was as surprised as anyone. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, this is the question we still haven’t been able to answer satisfactorily, and I wonder if we ever will. I think that his followers aren’t even quite sure why, but they just know they like him.

      Indeed, he must have had good management or intelligent and savvy advisors, for he surely doesn’t understand basic economics. I don’t believe he could balance a simple household budget, for he doesn’t seem to understand that you cannot keep borrowing and borrowing and spending more and more … sooner or later, the piper comes a-calling. An interesting aside … I read tonight that one of the Trump condos that had his name on the front wished to take his name off … 69% of the condo owners voted to remove it. Trump sued and said it could never be removed, but the judge found in favour of the condo owners. It’s not the first of his buildings to take his name off, either. I took some perverse pleasure from that.

      Our of curiosity, do you see any viable candidates on the horizon for the democrats in 2020?

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  2. You ask what we’re people thinking when they voted for him….

    They saw a bully they could live vicariously through…a bully who they envied for his boldness, as they felt weak.

    They saw a racist who felt like they do. Revenge for having a black president.

    They saw what they foolishly believe is a religious man, who can further their anti abortion, anti gay and anti other religions they believe are going to Hell. He does do this but only to pander to them to get their votes. They use each other in an unholy partnership.

    They saw a ruthless businessman who would enrich their wealth via loosening EPA clean air and water regulations plus further the mining of federal lands that should be preserved for their beauty and habitat for all of us.

    They saw a climate denier that promised a return of coal, which of course is absurd and promised a continued dependence on oil rather than new technology that many European countries have been using now for years.

    They saw a despicable human being…heartless, ruthless, narcissistic, obnoxious, cruel…and they liked what they saw.

    If I was religious, I’d say God help us…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have long thought that your second point, revenge for having had an African-American president, was the main reason. Which, yes, points to the fact that some 30% of this nation haven’t the sense to realize that it doesn’t matter the colour of one’s skin. Obama was as fine a president as we’ve had, at least in my 67 years. Sure he made some mistakes … what president doesn’t? They don’t have perfect information, are not psychic, but I believe that Obama acted in what he felt was the best interest of this nation, whereas Trump could care less about the nation or its people. We are in a sad state these days, and whereas a year ago I thought I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, that light turned out to be a freight train coming toward us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Trouble is, since amending the constitution is so difficult, it would be pretty much impossible to impose such a requirement (or any new requirement). The founding father assumed the voters would have enough brains not to elect someone like trump, and the electoral college was supposed to veto them if it did happen. They couldn’t have anticipated the mental states that led to Trumpism, or the lack of guts and conscience that would reduce the electoral college to a formality. The system isn’t broken, we’re just not capable of using it properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are quite right … with the current Congress, it wouldn’t have a prayer. But, hopefully within a few years, the demographics will shift in the legislative branch and it might well be worth considering. I was definitely being facetious when I suggested it happen before the 2020 election, for that would be as likely as looking into the night sky and seeing donkeys flying!

      To an extent, you are right when you say the system isn’t broken, but that we are simply not using it properly. But there is also the fact that times have changed since 1787, and the framers of the Constitution could never, in their wildest dreams, have predicted the state of the world today. They designed the document with the intent that it would grow and adjust as the nation needed it to. In some ways it has … we abolished slavery, African-Americans can vote, women can vote, presidents are limited to 2 terms, poll taxes are illegal, and 18-year-olds can vote. But more is needed … and frankly I think that since the electoral college allowed exactly the thing it was designed to prevent, it has outlived its usefulness also. We seriously need to update the foundation of our government, for today, We The People seem to have little voice.

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  4. Pingback: A view in the past and a blusterer making me afraid to spend words on him | Marcus Ampe's Space

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