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 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.