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Religion in Politics





Solon_Poledourus
I wasn't sure whether to put this in the Religion & Philosophy board or here, but since it deals with both, I flipped a coin and it wound up here.
Earlier today I was thinking about the US Constitution, namely Article VI, section 3, where it's stated:
Our Founding Fathers wrote:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Yet, there is so much more credibility given to candidates who publicly confirm their religious beliefs. Many times, political races for office have a period where the candidates try to "out god" one another, stating that they are more faithful than their opponent. If Obama had not mentioned his religion at all, or had said he was an Atheist(or Muslim or Buddhist or whatever), would he have been elected? I think we all know the answer to that one. So there is actually a "religious test" going on, it's just not publicly called as such.
It's like child labor. Nobody wants to admit that the toys they buy for their own kids were made by a 9 year old in Bangladesh, but they never question why that toy was so cheap in the first place. People don't admit that there's a "religious test" because that's unconstitutional, yet they proudly proclaim that they voted for a candidate because of their firm belief in god.
Many times, it seems as if people completely ignore the candidates' stance on issues, and focus on their religious alignment. As we all know, being of a certain faith does not necessarily make you a good leader, or a good person for that matter. So why do voters accept and even promote this type of action during a political race? Is there any way we can convince people, especially the deeply faithful, that we can still have a good nation, a good president, and not compromise our morals, while eliminating this "religious test" from the race to office?
Or is it a lost cause?
Should we just smother a gob of White Out on Article VI, section 3 of the Constitution?
jmi256
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
I wasn't sure whether to put this in the Religion & Philosophy board or here, but since it deals with both, I flipped a coin and it wound up here.
Earlier today I was thinking about the US Constitution, namely Article VI, section 3, where it's stated:
Our Founding Fathers wrote:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Yet, there is so much more credibility given to candidates who publicly confirm their religious beliefs. Many times, political races for office have a period where the candidates try to "out god" one another, stating that they are more faithful than their opponent. If Obama had not mentioned his religion at all, or had said he was an Atheist(or Muslim or Buddhist or whatever), would he have been elected? I think we all know the answer to that one. So there is actually a "religious test" going on, it's just not publicly called as such.
It's like child labor. Nobody wants to admit that the toys they buy for their own kids were made by a 9 year old in Bangladesh, but they never question why that toy was so cheap in the first place. People don't admit that there's a "religious test" because that's unconstitutional, yet they proudly proclaim that they voted for a candidate because of their firm belief in god.
Many times, it seems as if people completely ignore the candidates' stance on issues, and focus on their religious alignment. As we all know, being of a certain faith does not necessarily make you a good leader, or a good person for that matter. So why do voters accept and even promote this type of action during a political race? Is there any way we can convince people, especially the deeply faithful, that we can still have a good nation, a good president, and not compromise our morals, while eliminating this "religious test" from the race to office?
Or is it a lost cause?
Should we just smother a gob of White Out on Article VI, section 3 of the Constitution?



I think you're confusing a religious test imposed by the government verses one by voters.

The government can't say that you can or can't be of religion X in order to serve in office, but voters are free to use whatever litmus test they want, be it religious, racial, ideological, whatever. You or I may not like the criteria a voter uses, but they have the right to use whatever criteria they see fit. The government, on the other hand, can’t use certain tests, such as religion, to qualify or disqualify a candidate. It’s able to use other criteria (i.e. age, citizenship, etc.), but religion is off the table.
Solon_Poledourus
jimi256 wrote:
I think you're confusing a religious test imposed by the government verses one by voters.

Yes, but this test is also imposed by government institutions by proxy, through taking campaign finance and buckling to the pressure of religious groups who make demands of candidates.
At any rate, this test is given by and through the government as well as through voters. Should we be able to keep campaign finance from taking donations from religious branches? Would that be legal, or even a good thing to do?
The question I should have asked is "how can we stop the governmental institutions from covertly imposing this test, through their overt support of specific religious institutions, or is it a lost cause"?
deanhills
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
jimi256 wrote:
I think you're confusing a religious test imposed by the government verses one by voters.

Yes, but this test is also imposed by government institutions by proxy, through taking campaign finance and buckling to the pressure of religious groups who make demands of candidates.
At any rate, this test is given by and through the government as well as through voters. Should we be able to keep campaign finance from taking donations from religious branches? Would that be legal, or even a good thing to do?
The question I should have asked is "how can we stop the governmental institutions from covertly imposing this test, through their overt support of specific religious institutions, or is it a lost cause"?
I agree with jimi256. Government officials who are covertly supporting religious groups, i.e. Obama when he was celebrating a Jewish holiday at the White House for example, are just following their voters. Working on their ratings. Bottomline is that the majority of Americans are Christian. Added to this are percentages of other religious groups. If you want to persuade people of anything, I guess it is a tool to appeal to their self-interest, including letting them know you can identify with their beliefs. I find that inefficient, but then again I think there is a completely new political process needed in the US as the poor offerings of Presidential candidates last year for election, when there were obviously so many other talented leaders in existence in the country, has to send a clear message that all is not well and is becoming farcical and something of lesser intelligence and wisdom?.
ocalhoun
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
jimi256 wrote:
I think you're confusing a religious test imposed by the government verses one by voters.

Yes, but this test is also imposed by government institutions by proxy, through taking campaign finance and buckling to the pressure of religious groups who make demands of candidates.

This is caused by poor campaign finance control and the two-party system. I would greatly like to see parties completely abolished from government, that way you'd no longer have a select few deciding which two candidates are available for election, which is the real problem.

(And if you'll recall, one of the republican candidates for the nomination in the previous election was a Mormon, not Christian. He didn't fail that miserably.)
Solon_Poledourus
ocalhoun wrote:
This is caused by poor campaign finance control and the two-party system. I would greatly like to see parties completely abolished from government, that way you'd no longer have a select few deciding which two candidates are available for election, which is the real problem.

I agree. Alot of the problems do stem from campaign finance, and pandering to voters. I just wish the voting public would be smarter about who they support, and not vote for someone just because they share a religious background with the candidate.
ocalhoun wrote:
(And if you'll recall, one of the republican candidates for the nomination in the previous election was a Mormon, not Christian. He didn't fail that miserably.)

He was evangelical, from a christ-based system. My point is that people vote based on religious beliefs, and not on policy, and this is supported by a government which is not supposed to support such a test.
ocalhoun
Solon_Poledourus wrote:

ocalhoun wrote:
(And if you'll recall, one of the republican candidates for the nomination in the previous election was a Mormon, not Christian. He didn't fail that miserably.)

He was evangelical, from a christ-based system. My point is that people vote based on religious beliefs, and not on policy, and this is supported by a government which is not supposed to support such a test.

Ach, you missed my point. The government is not what enforces this policy. It is enforced by three groups:
1: Democratic Party leadership
2: Republican Party leadership
3: Ignorant voters
None of the three are official branches of the government.

Two of these could be eliminated easily, while one isn't easy to get rid of at all.
Solon_Poledourus
ocalhoun wrote:
Ach, you missed my point. The government is not what enforces this policy. It is enforced by three groups:
1: Democratic Party leadership
2: Republican Party leadership
3: Ignorant voters
None of the three are official branches of the government.

Two of these could be eliminated easily, while one isn't easy to get rid of at all.

Ah yes, I totally agree.
Though they are not official branches of government, I still feel that government supports the religious test, at least by proxy.
It makes me wonder though, when the writers of the constitution came up with the idea of not having a religious test for public service, didn't they foresee that voters, being a majority of evangelical christians, would pretty much void the rule about religious tests?
ocalhoun
Solon_Poledourus wrote:

It makes me wonder though, when the writers of the constitution came up with the idea of not having a religious test for public service, didn't they foresee that voters, being a majority of evangelical christians, would pretty much void the rule about religious tests?

Perhaps they did, and why shouldn't it? The voters get what the voters want, and if the voters want only Christians, that's what they'll get.

How would you propose to prevent people from religion-based voting anyway?
Stubru Freak
Where does it say that only the government isn't allowed to impose a religion test?
I'd say that the voters are clearly voting in an unconstitutional way, but of course it is impossible to change this.
deanhills
Stubru Freak wrote:
Where does it say that only the government isn't allowed to impose a religion test?
I'd say that the voters are clearly voting in an unconstitutional way, but of course it is impossible to change this.
I think we've discussed this in another thread as well. Some of the voters may not even know what a constitution is. They will be driven to the polls by either the Democrats or Republicans and be prepped whom to vote for. I don't think that is exclusive to the United States however. This is happening everywhere in the world. Clearly a significant percentage of voters are not educated sufficiently in their Government and politics to really qualify to vote.
Stubru Freak
deanhills wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
Where does it say that only the government isn't allowed to impose a religion test?
I'd say that the voters are clearly voting in an unconstitutional way, but of course it is impossible to change this.
I think we've discussed this in another thread as well. Some of the voters may not even know what a constitution is. They will be driven to the polls by either the Democrats or Republicans and be prepped whom to vote for. I don't think that is exclusive to the United States however. This is happening everywhere in the world. Clearly a significant percentage of voters are not educated sufficiently in their Government and politics to really qualify to vote.


Completely true. In Belgium, you have to vote. Some people don't have any idea at all what to vote for. A small amount of voters just vote for the first party every time. But even the others don't really have an idea what to vote for.
Solon_Poledourus
Stubru Freak wrote:
Where does it say that only the government isn't allowed to impose a religion test?

Article VI, Section 3 of the US Constitution.
deanhills wrote:
Clearly a significant percentage of voters are not educated sufficiently in their Government and politics to really qualify to vote.

This brings up an interesting point. I tend to agree that most people have no clue what they are voting on, and are completely deluded by the person they are voting for.
Should political constituency be a birthright? Or should we give a standardized test? If someone were to fail the test, they dont have the right to vote for a year, at which point they could take the test again.
There are probably some issues with this, as far as citizens rights and whatnot, but if you need a liecense to sell peanuts in the mall, shouldn't you need a license to vote for those who control our armies?
ocalhoun
Solon_Poledourus wrote:

This brings up an interesting point. I tend to agree that most people have no clue what they are voting on, and are completely deluded by the person they are voting for.
Should political constituency be a birthright? Or should we give a standardized test? If someone were to fail the test, they dont have the right to vote for a year, at which point they could take the test again.
There are probably some issues with this, as far as citizens rights and whatnot, but if you need a liecense to sell peanuts in the mall, shouldn't you need a license to vote for those who control our armies?

Quite so, and this is the real problem.
You don't need any complicated extra setup for it though.
Just give a standardized test along with every ballot, with basic intelligence questions (like "find the missing number 2 4 8 _ 32", or "If all 'A's are 'B's, and all 'B's are 'C's, are all 'A's 'C's?"), and questions about the country... (like, "where is the country on a map?", "what does the 2nd amendment to the constitution guarantee?", or "which country did America declare independence from?") They take this multiple choice test just before taking their multiple choices of leaders, and turn the test and the ballot in together. The test is graded just before the ballot is counted, and if they fail the test, that ballot doesn't get counted. The test should be relatively easy; it just needs to weed out the truly stupid and uninformed.

Now, before anybody informs me that this is discriminatory against the mentally handicapped, I would like to ask a question: Do you really want retards choosing your leaders?
Solon_Poledourus
ocalhoun wrote:
Now, before anybody informs me that this is discriminatory against the mentally handicapped, I would like to ask a question: Do you really want retards choosing your leaders?

I'd rather have the mentally handicapped voting than the intentionally ill informed.
Good idea with the test though.
I always liked the idea Heinlein had in his book(can't remember which one, maybe Starship Troopers), that voting rights(as well as the right to run for any public office) are earned through military service. If you aren't willing to enforce national policy firsthand, then you shouldn't have a say in what that policy is.
In our case, I think a test would be the best option. So many less important things in life require a license and/or a test. But any idiot can vote. That just kills me.
deanhills
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
I'd rather have the mentally handicapped voting than the intentionally ill informed.
Perhaps the mentally handicapped become the intentionally ill informed by virtue of the fact that they are trained to vote for X person? Smile
ocalhoun
Solon_Poledourus wrote:

I always liked the idea Heinlein had in his book(can't remember which one, maybe Starship Troopers), that voting rights(as well as the right to run for any public office) are earned through military service.

That would force the military to be much less discriminatory in accepting new recruits though, because denying them military service would be denying them basic rights.

You'd have to start allowing in people with physical disabilities, out of shape people, people with bad backgrounds of no education or criminality... Not good for the military.
Solon_Poledourus
ocalhoun wrote:
That would force the military to be much less discriminatory in accepting new recruits though, because denying them military service would be denying them basic rights.

Good point.
Though some kind of civil service would be a nice requirement for voting/campaigning rights too.
ocalhoun
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
That would force the military to be much less discriminatory in accepting new recruits though, because denying them military service would be denying them basic rights.

Good point.
Though some kind of civil service would be a nice requirement for voting/campaigning rights too.

That opens up the possibility of abusive civil service jobs though. If everyone is 'forced' to get a civil service job at some point, then mid-level budget cutters will start to look at civil service salaries... It might soon end up that you'd be forcing everyone to choose between not voting or working in a menial, very underpaid civil service job for years.

Best to keep it simple with just an intelligence/knowledge of country test.

After all, you don't want it to end up that only government employees or former government employees control the government. That would erode the 'for the people, by the people' premise it was founded on.
Solon_Poledourus
ocalhoun wrote:
That opens up the possibility of abusive civil service jobs though. If everyone is 'forced' to get a civil service job at some point, then mid-level budget cutters will start to look at civil service salaries... It might soon end up that you'd be forcing everyone to choose between not voting or working in a menial, very underpaid civil service job for years.

Best to keep it simple with just an intelligence/knowledge of country test.

After all, you don't want it to end up that only government employees or former government employees control the government. That would erode the 'for the people, by the people' premise it was founded on.

I'm not talking about permanent employment. Just a mandatory year or two, so everyone who votes has some hands on experience working within the system for which they cast their votes. As good as a test can be, it doesn't encompass practical experience. I think it would be nice for the citizenship to all have some sort of experience in the government, either as a civil servant or in the armed forces.
Many countries already do this, and I think with the US it could work even better.
Phinx
Enforcing a test...theoretically it would undermine the current democratic system in US. I mean think about it, democracy proclaims the equality in face of others given by birth, plus the rights and liberties it secures include the right to participate in governing the country, which in our case is governing through representatives (let us not start discussing the effectiveness of such system, it's irrelevant now). And here you give them a test to prove their eligibility... Smells of hypocrisy, unless i misunderstood something.

Ignorance in political field comes from, in my opinion, ineffective introduction (or lack of it) to basics in schools. I know i am touching same old thing, but since i live in UK but my knowledge of US educational system is rather low (so don't hesitate to correct me), i am able to do at least minor comparisons. In UK, as you reach year 10 of school you get to choose politics as one of your subject. It's an introductory module, surely enough to provide you with enough knowledge to be able to grasp the process of voting, starting from understanding the differences between ideologies (not in depth, but introduction is still there) and ending with voting it self. What about US? What schools provide there? What i know they provide is the regular lowering of passing grades which let the country slip another couple of points in IQ level.

Thing is, just like with an old dog, which you can't teach new tricks, people who lived in the current situation for years, will welcome such a radical turn negatively. They will see it as the governments idea to show how incompetent the regular voter is, so the government, which will introduce such a novelty will surely end up being bombarded with rhetorics from the enraged electorate.

A test will not solve the basic problem - lack of knowledge in the field of voting and politics in general. This only can be solved if you start of with the young generation. Another plus is that younger people as we all know, have the tendency to question things. Many older people have established their view, voting for the same party over and over again without considering the other possibilities even for a second. Youngsters (including myself as i am currently 20) like to see all the sides of the same object, we tend to compare and even disagree. That is why first of all attention should be concentrated on the fresh heads as stubborn ones will prove to be hard to get to.
deanhills
I like the idea of some kind of standard for people to vote. If someone wants to drive a car, he/she needs a driver's licence. So if people want to vote, they should need a voting license. There has to be some standard. Like with a driver's licence people should have to renew their voting licences periodically. I don't think they need to be employed or have specific school qualifications. They should have some basic knowledge about politics combined with citizenship rights and responsibilities.
Phinx
well we are talking about the same thing. You think there should be a voting-ensuring and political knowledge showing document. I agree, but is there any point for testing people that are around now? That is exactly the problem - majority might not be able to pass because of lack of knowledge. And if you do test them? Since a large percent will be refused the right to vote, the idea of universal suffrage will be denied. SO why instead of denied people the right to vote, we prepare the younger generation so the old one does not have any reason to rebel and the young ones will probably never will be denied of the right to vote because they will be prepared in their teenage years. Sounds reasonable to me. And, as i mentioned, it supports your idea and provides the basis to implement the 'voting license'.
Octo
I think that religion should definitely be not allowed in politics, I believe it ruins everything, for a politician.
Roald
The idea of having to go through a few years of civil service is very dangerous. 1st of all you need enough jobs for all those people, secondly, how about your income? If it's lower than your current income, you won't be happy to take a new job which downgrades you, while you take the risk of losing your first job. And at last: what if someone can't fulfil his civil service (due physical or other problems?).

The constitution says that everyone is equal, this makes voting a basic right. If you want people to be aware of real politics and not religion, you need to teach this at school. Which is the easiest way.
deanhills
Roald wrote:
The constitution says that everyone is equal, this makes voting a basic right. If you want people to be aware of real politics and not religion, you need to teach this at school. Which is the easiest way.
But perhaps there are some who are less equal when they do not know what is going on or what they are voting for? The test would allow them to prepare themselves so that they would be equal?
Solon_Poledourus
Roald wrote:
The idea of having to go through a few years of civil service is very dangerous.

Many countries do it, and it works fine.
Roald wrote:
1st of all you need enough jobs for all those people,

I'm not talking about for every person at the same time. For graduating high school students, to do 1 year in civil service would be enough.
Roald wrote:
secondly, how about your income? If it's lower than your current income, you won't be happy to take a new job which downgrades you, while you take the risk of losing your first job.

As I said, this would apply to new HS grads, older voters would be grandfathered in. The change wouldn't be immediate, it would take time.
Roald wrote:
And at last: what if someone can't fulfil his civil service (due physical or other problems?).

There is a job for every person. Obviously, physical problems would limit a person to clerical work or something of that sort. We already decided that people with certain mental disabilities shouldn't be voting. I don't care if people think that's a Constitutional right or not. If someone is unable, due to mental deficiencies, to grasp the full scope of what their vote means, then they shouldn't be able to vote. This is what the written test would determine.
I know it's nice to think that voting is a birthright, and we all live in a land of butterflies and rainbows, but there are people who do not have the capacity to cast an intelligent vote, and they only clog up the process with unintelligent, ill informed votes.
Roald wrote:
The constitution says that everyone is equal, this makes voting a basic right. If you want people to be aware of real politics and not religion, you need to teach this at school. Which is the easiest way.

The writers of the Constitution lived in an age when every adult was well informed about politics. They also had no idea what mental retardation was, and could not foresee the apathy of entire generations. I'm all for teaching politics in school, but teaching something doesn't guarantee they are learning it. A standard test would help determine who is educated enough to vote. Do you really think it's fair for idiots to have equal say in the course of the Nation? I know I know, the Constitution says they do. It strikes me as odd that nobody sees the flaw in this. The Constitution needs to be updated.
Roald
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
Do you really think it's fair for idiots to have equal say in the course of the Nation? I know I know, the Constitution says they do. It strikes me as odd that nobody sees the flaw in this. The Constitution needs to be updated.
Well this is a dangerous point: who will decide who is retarded and who isn't? At a long term this can grow to a system where you have people that are more important than others just because they are born that way or they can simply solve a test.

I mean, what if I didn't know a damn thing about politics but I like what mr X or mr Y says. That's my opinion, and it's my right to vote for this person, I pay taxes, so I have the right to decide what is going to happen to my country. And if I want a Christion/Muslim/... leader for my country, that's my opinion.
ocalhoun
Roald wrote:
I mean, what if I didn't know a damn thing about politics but I like what mr X or mr Y says. That's my opinion, and it's my right to vote for this person, I pay taxes, so I have the right to decide what is going to happen to my country. And if I want a Christion/Muslim/... leader for my country, that's my opinion.

At what cost?
Sure, you'll retain your 'right' to vote ignorantly, but how much more of that can the country withstand?


As for those saying that better education is enough:
Really, it isn't. In an idealistic world, a little education would do just fine. Problem is that many, if not most, people are stupid and willfully ignorant. You might get them to study for a while, but 90% of them will promptly forget everything they learned, because they don't care about political ideals... they just want to get drunk and/or laid.

If you can't pass the test (which should be very easy), you can just study up, and be able to pass the next one easily. If you're so unbelievably stupid that you can't even pass the test after studying for 2 years, then you have no business choosing leaders anyway.

The stupid, uninformed voter will kill democracy if you don't stop him/her. Classes in school might help a little, but not enough. You have to give them motivation to be informed. Motivation like: "be informed or don't vote."

This test would not be for the purpose of creating an elite class that has all the power: It should be easy to pass. Nobody with a mostly sound mind would fail the test if they had learned the subject(s) it was about, so nobody who's mind worked properly would be excluded. Stupid people would still have rights, just not the right to enforce stupid decisions on the rest of us.
Solon_Poledourus
The only reason I would even suggest such a test is to get peoples' minds focused on the matters at hand. Too many people go to the voting booth with only an opinion, and while some people say that it's our "Constitutional right" to vote based on our opinions alone(or candidates' religion or whatever) without knowing squat about politics, I say it's our Constitutional duty to have voters who are better informed and of sound mind.
Roald wrote:
Well this is a dangerous point: who will decide who is retarded and who isn't?
Are you aware that we have a test and officials that decide if someone is physically and mentally able to drive a car? Don't you think it's their right to drive, just like anyone else? Or do you feel that it's too dangerous for someone to be behind the wheel when they aren't mentally prepared or fit for it?
Roald wrote:
At a long term this can grow to a system where you have people that are more important than others just because they are born that way or they can simply solve a test.
Like the way some people are more important because they can drive a car after passing a test. Um... no.
If the DMV decided to make the driving test more difficult in order to keep bad drivers off the road, I doubt anyone would be shouting about Constitutional rights.
We don't even consider driving to be a right, it's a privelege. Something as trivial as driving, and we need to prove ourselves in order to be able to do it.
Nobody wants an idiot behind the wheel, right?
But when it comes to politics, you are protecting the right to have an idiot behind the wheel. It makes no sense.
Roald
Quote:
Are you aware that we have a test and officials that decide if someone is physically and mentally able to drive a car? Don't you think it's their right to drive, just like anyone else? Or do you feel that it's too dangerous for someone to be behind the wheel when they aren't mentally prepared or fit for it?
Yes and still there are a lot of driving accidents.

In the American constitution there is already a build in protection against "stupid" voters. They have a system called Indirect elections where the people choose a person per state (I think) and that person chooses the president. This system shields the ignorant plebs from stupid choices (though in my opinion not an idealistic system).
Stubru Freak
ocalhoun wrote:
Roald wrote:
I mean, what if I didn't know a damn thing about politics but I like what mr X or mr Y says. That's my opinion, and it's my right to vote for this person, I pay taxes, so I have the right to decide what is going to happen to my country. And if I want a Christion/Muslim/... leader for my country, that's my opinion.

At what cost?
Sure, you'll retain your 'right' to vote ignorantly, but how much more of that can the country withstand?


As for those saying that better education is enough:
Really, it isn't. In an idealistic world, a little education would do just fine. Problem is that many, if not most, people are stupid and willfully ignorant. You might get them to study for a while, but 90% of them will promptly forget everything they learned, because they don't care about political ideals... they just want to get drunk and/or laid.

If you can't pass the test (which should be very easy), you can just study up, and be able to pass the next one easily. If you're so unbelievably stupid that you can't even pass the test after studying for 2 years, then you have no business choosing leaders anyway.

The stupid, uninformed voter will kill democracy if you don't stop him/her. Classes in school might help a little, but not enough. You have to give them motivation to be informed. Motivation like: "be informed or don't vote."

This test would not be for the purpose of creating an elite class that has all the power: It should be easy to pass. Nobody with a mostly sound mind would fail the test if they had learned the subject(s) it was about, so nobody who's mind worked properly would be excluded. Stupid people would still have rights, just not the right to enforce stupid decisions on the rest of us.


Who will decide on the test questions? Don't forget the US isn't really famous for its strict interpretation of democracy. In the cold war, censorship of leftist propaganda wasn't an exception. Though it is actually undemocratic, nothing too scary happened because people were still allowed to vote. But if they get a tool to prevent some people from voting...
Would a test like "Will communism make us all richer?" qualify as a knowledge question or an ideological question? I'd say ideological, but I'm not sure the GOP thinks so. Of course you could lie about your ideas, but if you have to lie on your voting ballot, something is seriously wrong in a system.
Solon_Poledourus
Roald wrote:
Yes and still there are a lot of driving accidents.

But far less than would be if we considered driving a "right" instead of a "privelege".
Roald wrote:
In the American constitution there is already a build in protection against "stupid" voters. They have a system called Indirect elections where the people choose a person per state (I think) and that person chooses the president. This system shields the ignorant plebs from stupid choices (though in my opinion not an idealistic system).

In America it's called the Electoral College, and I think it's seriously flawed. It shoves the voting system into the hands of an elite few. Even though 100% of the popular vote might go to candidate A, the Electoral College can vote for candidate B, thus negating the popular vote completely. To me, it's elitism, not Democracy.
Stubru Freak wrote:
Who will decide on the test questions?

As long as it's a fair test that determines an individuals basic grasp of politics, who cares who decides the questions?
Stubru Freak wrote:
But if they get a tool to prevent some people from voting...

We got tools to prevent people from doing many far less dangerous things. Why do people feel it's so important to let unqualified idiots determine the course of the entire nation?
Stubru Freak wrote:
Would a test like "Will communism make us all richer?" qualify as a knowledge question or an ideological question?

That has nothing to do with basic knowledge of our political system, it's merely an opinion.
People are obsessed with "rights", so much that those very rights have been abused and taken for granted. Being rooted in tradition so much that it keeps us from progressing is a bad idea. If we don't update the way things are done, then we will keep making the same mistakes and corruption will continue to swell until we have another civil war. A simple test with basic questions would encourage people to learn about what they are voting on, and would deter the lazy and apathetic from bothering to cast a vote.
Stubru Freak
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
Who will decide on the test questions?

As long as it's a fair test that determines an individuals basic grasp of politics, who cares who decides the questions?
Stubru Freak wrote:
But if they get a tool to prevent some people from voting...

We got tools to prevent people from doing many far less dangerous things. Why do people feel it's so important to let unqualified idiots determine the course of the entire nation?
Stubru Freak wrote:
Would a test like "Will communism make us all richer?" qualify as a knowledge question or an ideological question?

That has nothing to do with basic knowledge of our political system, it's merely an opinion.


You miss the point. Of course that's an opinion, but how are you gonna make sure nobody asks for your opinion before you are allowed to vote?
The questions can't be the same for every election, people would just take a printed web page with them. So someone has to make new questions every election. Don't you think those people may try to ask unbalanced questions? "Will communism make us all richer?" is an extreme example, but some are more subtle.
By definition, asking anything about the parties wouldn't be allowed. They would favour, even if only the slightest, the party the question is about. Even if they're basic questions any moron could answer, morons that know a little bit more about the "right" party will be allowed to vote, and morons from the other party won't, so it will give an unfair advantage in the election results. And elections in the US tend to be really close sometimes. Asking questions about both parties would be discrimination of third parties.
So what's left? How will you define "basic knowledge of our political system"? How will you make sure politicians don't influence the questions to improve their score?
Solon_Poledourus
I dowuldn't think there would be opinion questions on a standard test, much the way there aren't opinion questions in a math test. Just questions to determine a persons knowledge of current events and the political system in general.
What are the three main branches of government?
What was the Roe v. Wade case about?(maybe a multiple choice on questions like this)
Questions like these could be taken right out of high school text books, just to freshen up the minds of voters. The test would have to pass an inspection by a group to ensure that it's not slanted or too difficult for the average person.
As for who decides... I don't think it really matters, as long as they are an independent group with no party loyalties. That would keep politicians from influencing the test.
Stubru Freak
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
I dowuldn't think there would be opinion questions on a standard test, much the way there aren't opinion questions in a math test. Just questions to determine a persons knowledge of current events and the political system in general.
What are the three main branches of government?
What was the Roe v. Wade case about?(maybe a multiple choice on questions like this)
Questions like these could be taken right out of high school text books, just to freshen up the minds of voters. The test would have to pass an inspection by a group to ensure that it's not slanted or too difficult for the average person.
As for who decides... I don't think it really matters, as long as they are an independent group with no party loyalties. That would keep politicians from influencing the test.


Well I have to say that I didn't know what Roe v. Wade was about, that's just (recent) history, but I do know enough about American politics to vote for an American president. If I ever decided to move there and I got that question on my ballot, that would be quite unfair.
Who will choose the members of the group? If politicians choose them, they will be biased. And you can't just pick random people, they would certainly mess up, as making a balanced test like that isn't an easy task.
Solon_Poledourus
Stubru Freak wrote:
Well I have to say that I didn't know what Roe v. Wade was about, that's just (recent) history

It's a very important case which comes up during every election. It has to do with abortion, one of the major divisions between Democrats and Republicans.
Stubru Freak wrote:
but I do know enough about American politics to vote for an American president. If I ever decided to move there and I got that question on my ballot, that would be quite unfair.

I disagree. This case is brought up during every Presidential election and every time a Supreme Court Justice is about to be appointed. It's a hot topic here in the States, and should be common knowledge for voters. Not an unfair question at all.
Stubru Freak wrote:
Who will choose the members of the group?

As long as it's someone with no political agenda, I don't really care. Before election time, we are sent "example ballots" in the mail, to get an idea of what the ballot will look like and how to use it. They could send out "example tests" so that people can get an idea of what type of questions would be on it, and then study up on politics if they feel they don't know enough. If people felt the test was too hard or unbalanced, they would protest it and a new test could be made. These are things that would have to be gradually introduced into the system, but I think it could be done fairly, and have a good effect on voters.
Stubru Freak
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
Well I have to say that I didn't know what Roe v. Wade was about, that's just (recent) history

It's a very important case which comes up during every election. It has to do with abortion, one of the major divisions between Democrats and Republicans.
Stubru Freak wrote:
but I do know enough about American politics to vote for an American president. If I ever decided to move there and I got that question on my ballot, that would be quite unfair.

I disagree. This case is brought up during every Presidential election and every time a Supreme Court Justice is about to be appointed. It's a hot topic here in the States, and should be common knowledge for voters. Not an unfair question at all.
Stubru Freak wrote:
Who will choose the members of the group?

As long as it's someone with no political agenda, I don't really care. Before election time, we are sent "example ballots" in the mail, to get an idea of what the ballot will look like and how to use it. They could send out "example tests" so that people can get an idea of what type of questions would be on it, and then study up on politics if they feel they don't know enough. If people felt the test was too hard or unbalanced, they would protest it and a new test could be made. These are things that would have to be gradually introduced into the system, but I think it could be done fairly, and have a good effect on voters.


I still don't see how you think you will be able to keep the test non-ideological. As I said before, during the Cold War, even non-government publications were censored. Don't you think the government will try to influence the questions to favour the party that's in charge? Who will choose the guy that chooses the members of the group? In the end, someone from the government right?
Solon_Poledourus
Stubru Freak wrote:
I still don't see how you think you will be able to keep the test non-ideological.
By not putting ideological questions in it.
Stubru Freak wrote:
As I said before, during the Cold War, even non-government publications were censored.
We aren't in the cold war anymore.
Stubru Freak wrote:
Don't you think the government will try to influence the questions to favour the party that's in charge?
The test would be written by a non-government group. So no, they would not be able to influence the questions without being overtly corrupt, which we would find out about.
Stubru Freak wrote:
Who will choose the guy that chooses the members of the group? In the end, someone from the government right?
No. In the end, the people of the voting district would agree upon an independant group, such as a high school or college to choose the members and form the test.[/quote]
Stubru Freak
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
I still don't see how you think you will be able to keep the test non-ideological.
By not putting ideological questions in it.
Stubru Freak wrote:
As I said before, during the Cold War, even non-government publications were censored.
We aren't in the cold war anymore.
Stubru Freak wrote:
Don't you think the government will try to influence the questions to favour the party that's in charge?
The test would be written by a non-government group. So no, they would not be able to influence the questions without being overtly corrupt, which we would find out about.
Stubru Freak wrote:
Who will choose the guy that chooses the members of the group? In the end, someone from the government right?
No. In the end, the people of the voting district would agree upon an independant group, such as a high school or college to choose the members and form the test.


The Cold War may be over, but how are you sure it won't be repeated?
An independent group like a high school won't be professional enough to make sure no ideological questions are in the test. Even the Roe v. Wade question favours one party: I'd say that Democratic voters care about abortion rights, while a lot of Republican voters don't really care, and vote Republican for other reasons. Or it could be the other way. In any case, a test like this would favour voters who care more about abortion, and lead to a biased election result. If every district has its own questions, certainly at least some districts will have biased questions. So the results will be biased, even if only a little, and that makes the elections undemocratic.
deanhills
Stubru Freak wrote:
The Cold War may be over, but how are you sure it won't be repeated?
An independent group like a high school won't be professional enough to make sure no ideological questions are in the test. Even the Roe v. Wade question favours one party: I'd say that Democratic voters care about abortion rights, while a lot of Republican voters don't really care, and vote Republican for other reasons. Or it could be the other way. In any case, a test like this would favour voters who care more about abortion, and lead to a biased election result. If every district has its own questions, certainly at least some districts will have biased questions. So the results will be biased, even if only a little, and that makes the elections undemocratic.
Why only two parties in a country that is supposed to be democratic and consists of 50 states? Is it possible that the country is in a BIG rut political wise and needs to take time out to study its political system and re-engineer the political process and elections?
Stubru Freak
deanhills wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
The Cold War may be over, but how are you sure it won't be repeated?
An independent group like a high school won't be professional enough to make sure no ideological questions are in the test. Even the Roe v. Wade question favours one party: I'd say that Democratic voters care about abortion rights, while a lot of Republican voters don't really care, and vote Republican for other reasons. Or it could be the other way. In any case, a test like this would favour voters who care more about abortion, and lead to a biased election result. If every district has its own questions, certainly at least some districts will have biased questions. So the results will be biased, even if only a little, and that makes the elections undemocratic.
Why only two parties in a country that is supposed to be democratic and consists of 50 states? Is it possible that the country is in a BIG rut political wise and needs to take time out to study its political system and re-engineer the political process and elections?


Of course. One solution would be to allow someone to run for the House of Representatives across the whole country. That way a party needs only a small percentage of votes to get a representative. Now, only parties that are big locally can get a representative (in the bigger states). Small parties nation-wide don't get the chance to actually do something, and as such don't get the chance to grow bigger. You're "throwing away" your vote when you vote for them.
The Senate would still maintain equal representation of every state, but when alternative parties start to appear in the House, the Senate will follow.

But requiring people to pass a test before they're allowed to vote would even make the two-party system worse.
Solon_Poledourus
Stubru Freak wrote:
The Cold War may be over, but how are you sure it won't be repeated?
We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Stubru Freak wrote:
An independent group like a high school won't be professional enough to make sure no ideological questions are in the test.
We have agencies that make tests that are not biased, such as the DMV drivers test. Creating this kind of group would not be much different.
Stubru Freak wrote:
Even the Roe v. Wade question favours one party: I'd say that Democratic voters care about abortion rights, while a lot of Republican voters don't really care, and vote Republican for other reasons. In any case, a test like this would favour voters who care more about abortion, and lead to a biased election result.
. You misunderstood the question. "What was the Roe v. Wade case about?" is not ideological, it's a simple political fact that it's about abortion rights. The question does not ask if you favor the Judicial decision or not, only if you are aware of the case and what it means. Much like asking what the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects(the right to keep and bear arms). This question doesn't ask if you are for or against gun control or ownership. It only asks if you know what the Amendment is for.
Stubru Freak wrote:
So the results will be biased, even if only a little, and that makes the elections undemocratic.
How would questions like those above make a test biased? These are things that are common political knowledge. They don't ask for opinions or try to illicit ideological answers, they simply ask if you know certain simple facts about American politics.

There is a government mandated test for people to become American citizens. This test is fair, and does not have a bias against any race, religion, or gender, etc. And it's created by our own government. Wouldn't you think that the current party in power would try to influence this test to make new citizens more apt to support the agenda of the sitting President? Of course not, that would be outright corruption. To immigrate here and become a citizen, one has to learn about American history, law, and politics, all to a certain degree. If we can create a fair test for the immigrants, why do you think it's impossible to create something similar for our own natural born citizens? It's perfectly feasible, and would do much good.
Stubru Freak
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
The Cold War may be over, but how are you sure it won't be repeated?
We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Stubru Freak wrote:
An independent group like a high school won't be professional enough to make sure no ideological questions are in the test.
We have agencies that make tests that are not biased, such as the DMV drivers test. Creating this kind of group would not be much different.
Stubru Freak wrote:
Even the Roe v. Wade question favours one party: I'd say that Democratic voters care about abortion rights, while a lot of Republican voters don't really care, and vote Republican for other reasons. In any case, a test like this would favour voters who care more about abortion, and lead to a biased election result.
. You misunderstood the question. "What was the Roe v. Wade case about?" is not ideological, it's a simple political fact that it's about abortion rights. The question does not ask if you favor the Judicial decision or not, only if you are aware of the case and what it means. Much like asking what the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects(the right to keep and bear arms). This question doesn't ask if you are for or against gun control or ownership. It only asks if you know what the Amendment is for.
Stubru Freak wrote:
So the results will be biased, even if only a little, and that makes the elections undemocratic.
How would questions like those above make a test biased? These are things that are common political knowledge. They don't ask for opinions or try to illicit ideological answers, they simply ask if you know certain simple facts about American politics.

There is a government mandated test for people to become American citizens. This test is fair, and does not have a bias against any race, religion, or gender, etc. And it's created by our own government. Wouldn't you think that the current party in power would try to influence this test to make new citizens more apt to support the agenda of the sitting President? Of course not, that would be outright corruption. To immigrate here and become a citizen, one has to learn about American history, law, and politics, all to a certain degree. If we can create a fair test for the immigrants, why do you think it's impossible to create something similar for our own natural born citizens? It's perfectly feasible, and would do much good.


Well, not letting people into the country because they're likely to support the other party is a lot less direct than disallowing people to vote.
The question about Roe v. Wade is ideologically biased because people who care about abortion rights are more likely to know this question.
Say someone was raped when she was young and didn't get abortion: she now cares a lot about abortion, and will vote Democrat every time. She will also know about Roe v. Wade. But she doesn't know anything about politics and you wouldn't want her to vote. Another person you don't want to vote lives in a very unsafe neighbourhood. He always keeps a gun with him. He doesn't know anything about politics but votes Republican because of their support of the right to keep guns. He would know the Second Amendment question.
So if you choose to ask the Roe v. Wade question, the result will likely be biased towards Democrats, and if you ask the Second Amendment question the result will be biased towards the Republicans. Not because of the smart people, but because of the people that shouldn't actually vote according to you, but know this one (or maybe two or three) questions. No matter how you make the test, there will always be a small bias towards one party. And that makes it undemocratic.
Solon_Poledourus
Stubru Freak wrote:
Well, not letting people into the country because they're likely to support the other party is a lot less direct than disallowing people to vote.
The point is that we don't judge party loyalties when giving the citizenship test. The same can be done for anyone else.
Stubru Freak wrote:
The question about Roe v. Wade is ideologically biased because people who care about abortion rights are more likely to know this question.
Anyone who cares about politics should know this one. Whether you are for, against, or indifferent to the issue, you should have knowledge of the case. Asking if someone knows what the case was about is most certainly not an ideologically biased question. It's simple, common, political knowledge. Every voter should know what the case represented. This question would not ask how one feels about it, only if one knows what it was about.
Stubru Freak wrote:
So if you choose to ask the Roe v. Wade question, the result will likely be biased towards Democrats, and if you ask the Second Amendment question the result will be biased towards the Republicans.
No. Just because a Dem may support abortion, doesn't mean a Rep will not be as familiar with the case. The issue affects both parties. Just because a Rep may support gun ownership, doesn't mean they know the Second Amendment better than a Dem. This issue affects both parties as well. These are very simple questions with no bias, they do not ask a persons opinion, they do not cater toward a political group, they simply ask the voter if they know the answers to the questions. Neither a Republican nor a Democrat are inheirently more informed about one or the other. And knowing more about one or the other does not mean a person will vote one way or the other, it simply means they are more informed to the facts.
Another thing. I tend to vote more Democrat. I also own many guns, and support my right to keep and bear arms. By your logic, I should be voting Republican, and that question about the Second Amendment would give me an upper hand when voting. That's not true. It only means that I am familiar with the Constitution and it's Amendments, as all voters should be. I also don't personally support abortion, but I do support the right to choose politically. So I'm familiar with the case, just as voters should be. You are creating ideology where there is none.
deanhills
Stubru Freak wrote:
So if you choose to ask the Roe v. Wade question, the result will likely be biased towards Democrats, and if you ask the Second Amendment question the result will be biased towards the Republicans. Not because of the smart people, but because of the people that shouldn't actually vote according to you, but know this one (or maybe two or three) questions. No matter how you make the test, there will always be a small bias towards one party. And that makes it undemocratic.
If there is a test, I think it should be a very basic one, along the lines of citizenship tests, think there is already materials that could be used. The citizenship test consists of very simple and basic multiple choice questions. You would get a map for example and ask you the name of a well known state, like Washington, with the capital marked as Seattle. They would ask you who the President of the United States is. The test would be a very basic one to test that the person can do basic reading and writing, some basic comprehension and know who the most important people in the country are. Also along basic elementary multiple choice question lines. The test should be for basic average people with less than perfect English, in other words your most basic average American citizen. A test like that would serve "equal rights" of citizens. Anything more complicated would serve people who are more equal than the average citizen. And that would contravene equal rights.
Stubru Freak
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
Well, not letting people into the country because they're likely to support the other party is a lot less direct than disallowing people to vote.
The point is that we don't judge party loyalties when giving the citizenship test. The same can be done for anyone else.
Stubru Freak wrote:
The question about Roe v. Wade is ideologically biased because people who care about abortion rights are more likely to know this question.
Anyone who cares about politics should know this one. Whether you are for, against, or indifferent to the issue, you should have knowledge of the case. Asking if someone knows what the case was about is most certainly not an ideologically biased question. It's simple, common, political knowledge. Every voter should know what the case represented. This question would not ask how one feels about it, only if one knows what it was about.
Stubru Freak wrote:
So if you choose to ask the Roe v. Wade question, the result will likely be biased towards Democrats, and if you ask the Second Amendment question the result will be biased towards the Republicans.
No. Just because a Dem may support abortion, doesn't mean a Rep will not be as familiar with the case. The issue affects both parties. Just because a Rep may support gun ownership, doesn't mean they know the Second Amendment better than a Dem. This issue affects both parties as well. These are very simple questions with no bias, they do not ask a persons opinion, they do not cater toward a political group, they simply ask the voter if they know the answers to the questions. Neither a Republican nor a Democrat are inheirently more informed about one or the other. And knowing more about one or the other does not mean a person will vote one way or the other, it simply means they are more informed to the facts.
Another thing. I tend to vote more Democrat. I also own many guns, and support my right to keep and bear arms. By your logic, I should be voting Republican, and that question about the Second Amendment would give me an upper hand when voting. That's not true. It only means that I am familiar with the Constitution and it's Amendments, as all voters should be. I also don't personally support abortion, but I do support the right to choose politically. So I'm familiar with the case, just as voters should be. You are creating ideology where there is none.


I agree any voter should know about those things. But not every voter knows about them. And I bet that you can statistically prove that when you ask a question about abortion, Democrat voters are more likely to respond correctly. And if not, probably Republican voters are more likely to respond correctly. The chance that both know exactly the same about it, is really really small. It's just because Democrats and Republicans live in different worlds. Geographically, some states have very few Republicans, others have few Democrats. But also they read different newspapers, watch different TV channels, listen to different radios. Of course, again, there are exceptions.
So even though everyone should know about Roe v. Wade, some people you wouldn't want to vote will know this question, and only this one. And those people, statistically, are more likely to be Democrats. I'm not saying your idea won't stop the majority of uninformed voters, but it won't stop some. And that will lead to a biased result.
deanhills
Stubru Freak wrote:
So even though everyone should know about Roe v. Wade, some people you wouldn't want to vote will know this question, and only this one. And those people, statistically, are more likely to be Democrats. I'm not saying your idea won't stop the majority of uninformed voters, but it won't stop some. And that will lead to a biased result.
Agreed that this would be an unfair question for the average citizen in the United States. I still believe there should be a test, but it should be a very basic knowledge test. Roe v. Wade would be a higher standard of test and for people who have higher average knowledge, therefore equal rights would be threatened.
Stubru Freak
The problem with a really basic test is that it won't actually change anything. A lot of people I know, know nothing about politics and would fail a specific political test, but not a really basic test.
deanhills
Stubru Freak wrote:
The problem with a really basic test is that it won't actually change anything. A lot of people I know, know nothing about politics and would fail a specific political test, but not a really basic test.
It would at least take care of a large section of the population which is completely disinterested in politics and would not care to take the test. It will also take care of those who cannot vote, such as those in mental institutions. It would narrow it down at least to those citizens who care to qualify for the voting process.
Stubru Freak
deanhills wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
The problem with a really basic test is that it won't actually change anything. A lot of people I know, know nothing about politics and would fail a specific political test, but not a really basic test.
It would at least take care of a large section of the population which is completely disinterested in politics and would not care to take the test. It will also take care of those who cannot vote, such as those in mental institutions. It would narrow it down at least to those citizens who care to qualify for the voting process.


Yes, maybe. But there are more important things to fight for. :p
deanhills
Stubru Freak wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
The problem with a really basic test is that it won't actually change anything. A lot of people I know, know nothing about politics and would fail a specific political test, but not a really basic test.
It would at least take care of a large section of the population which is completely disinterested in politics and would not care to take the test. It will also take care of those who cannot vote, such as those in mental institutions. It would narrow it down at least to those citizens who care to qualify for the voting process.


Yes, maybe. But there are more important things to fight for. :p
Here's the thing. I don't think people are really fighting. They are very passive and everyone is hoping someone else will solve the problems. There seems to be very fundamental criticisms and points of view, but not much in the line of action to make change possible.
ocalhoun
Solon_Poledourus wrote:

Questions like these could be taken right out of high school text books, just to freshen up the minds of voters. The test would have to pass an inspection by a group to ensure that it's not slanted or too difficult for the average person.

Ensuring that it isn't too difficult would be easy.
You wouldn't have to have a 100% score to pass. The exact passing score would depend on the number of people who fail.

Say, if more than 30% of people fail, the passing score drops from 70% to 60%, and so on.


As for keeping it unbiased, just simply take questions straight from history books and basic books about the US government. Alternatively, you could take questions right out of the citizenship test.
Perhaps questions about current issues (Roe V Wade, 2nd amendment) shouldn't be in it... That would be fine. You could still ask questions like:
"Which of these is NOT one of the 3 main branches of the US government?"
"Which political office holds the power of supreme commander of the military?"
"How many states are there (besides DC)?"
"What portion of congress must vote for a bill to override a presidential veto?"
"When was the bill of rights added to the constitution?"
"Which of these numbers is closest to the actual current amount of the national debt?"
"What country was the target of the only nuclear bombs ever fired by the USA?"
"Which president decreed an end to slavery?"
"Which one of these countries was NOT a US ally in WWI?"
"Which one of these ideals did Martin Luther King Jr. Strive for?"
"Which one of these countries does the US NOT have a military base in?"
"The national anthem was written during which of these wars?"

If you don't know the answers to 70% of these multiple choice questions, you have no business in a voting booth.
Solon_Poledourus
ocalhoun wrote:
If you don't know the answers to 70% of these multiple choice questions, you have no business in a voting booth.

I agree. Though I still don't see how a question about the Second Amendment is biased. Or even Roe v Wade.
Anyway, the point of a test like this is not really to stop certain people from voting. It's to get people to know what the hell they are taking part in. If people aren't willing to learn a little bit about the country for which they so adamantly say gives them unassailable rights, then they really should stay the f*ck away from the voting booth.
I for one, feel very priveleged to be a citizen, and I take it seriously. If people don't want to shoulder a little responsibility for this role, then fine. But they shouldn't have an opportunity to undermine the course of the nation through their own ignorance.
People need to ask themselves "what's the point?" I mean, if you know nothing of politics, or about the candidates, or about American history, etc., then why bother taking part in voting? Too many people cast votes based on belief, rather than on information. These people have turned the Democratic voting process into a cheap popularity contest.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Solon_Poledourus wrote:

Questions like these could be taken right out of high school text books, just to freshen up the minds of voters. The test would have to pass an inspection by a group to ensure that it's not slanted or too difficult for the average person.

Ensuring that it isn't too difficult would be easy.
You wouldn't have to have a 100% score to pass. The exact passing score would depend on the number of people who fail.

Say, if more than 30% of people fail, the passing score drops from 70% to 60%, and so on.


As for keeping it unbiased, just simply take questions straight from history books and basic books about the US government. Alternatively, you could take questions right out of the citizenship test.
Perhaps questions about current issues (Roe V Wade, 2nd amendment) shouldn't be in it... That would be fine. You could still ask questions like:
"Which of these is NOT one of the 3 main branches of the US government?"
"Which political office holds the power of supreme commander of the military?"
"How many states are there (besides DC)?"
"What portion of congress must vote for a bill to override a presidential veto?"
"When was the bill of rights added to the constitution?"
"Which of these numbers is closest to the actual current amount of the national debt?"
"What country was the target of the only nuclear bombs ever fired by the USA?"
"Which president decreed an end to slavery?"
"Which one of these countries was NOT a US ally in WWI?"
"Which one of these ideals did Martin Luther King Jr. Strive for?"
"Which one of these countries does the US NOT have a military base in?"
"The national anthem was written during which of these wars?"

If you don't know the answers to 70% of these multiple choice questions, you have no business in a voting booth.
The questions will probably alienate at least half of the voters, if not more? Maybe that would be a good thing, as those who missed out on voting rights through these questions would then develop serious grievances about their citizenship rights having been taken away from them, start a revolution, and then take responsibility for changes in Government?
Xanatos
deanhills wrote:
The questions will probably alienate at least half of the voters, if not more? Maybe that would be a good thing, as those who missed out on voting rights through these questions would then develop serious grievances about their citizenship rights having been taken away from them, start a revolution, and then take responsibility for changes in Government?


They don't have to know that their vote wasn't counted. If all votes we filed electronically, then the computer could automatically calculate your score and if you failed, it would discard your vote.
Solon_Poledourus
Xanatos wrote:
They don't have to know that their vote wasn't counted. If all votes we filed electronically, then the computer could automatically calculate your score and if you failed, it would discard your vote.
That's an interesting idea. But I really wouldn't want to have this test just to keep people from voting, I would want it to motivate people to learn what they are voting for.
deanhills wrote:
The questions will probably alienate at least half of the voters, if not more? Maybe that would be a good thing, as those who missed out on voting rights through these questions would then develop serious grievances about their citizenship rights having been taken away from them, start a revolution, and then take responsibility for changes in Government?
Revolution is one way to become interested in politics. I was really going for more of a reaction like "damn, now I have to take a test to vote? well I better study up on some things then"(for the motivated), or "man f*ck that, I was just gonna fill it out randomly anyway, but now I'm not even gonna try"(for the unmotivated).
People could bitch all they want, but only an idiot would jump up and down and shout about how it's their protected American right to vote while being too stupid to pass a high school quiz on American history/politics.
We all have the right to go hunting too, but it would be stupid to do so without learning a bit about your guns first.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
The questions will probably alienate at least half of the voters, if not more? Maybe that would be a good thing, as those who missed out on voting rights through these questions would then develop serious grievances about their citizenship rights having been taken away from them, start a revolution, and then take responsibility for changes in Government?

Personally, I am not scared of an attempted idiot's revolution. ^.^

Let's see now... bunch of morons vs. best military in the world... No contest.

As an extra bonus, after the revolution, a great many stupid people would be dead, improving the gene pool.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
deanhills wrote:
The questions will probably alienate at least half of the voters, if not more? Maybe that would be a good thing, as those who missed out on voting rights through these questions would then develop serious grievances about their citizenship rights having been taken away from them, start a revolution, and then take responsibility for changes in Government?

Personally, I am not scared of an attempted idiot's revolution. ^.^

Let's see now... bunch of morons vs. best military in the world... No contest.

As an extra bonus, after the revolution, a great many stupid people would be dead, improving the gene pool.

I'm not scared either. It may be what is needed. I agree that some people would be passive in this, but if one clicked around on the Internet while Bush was still in power, there was a picture of real frustration emerging and on the strength of that elation at the election of Obama. At some point people will realize that more is needed to make changes than just electing someone into office, and having to wait four years to campaign for the next President.
jmi256
The idea of a "test" to secure voting rights was tried by Democrats in the south following the Civil War to keep blacks from voting. They were extremely unhappy that Lincoln and the Republican Party was able to free the slaves and to maintain their hold on power they instituted many hurdles, such as a reading test, designed to keep blacks from passing. Leading up, during and after to the Civil War the Democrats even made it illegal to educate slaves and former slaves, so understandably they were unable to pass a simple reading test, which many times constituted just reading a line from the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution. Thankfully these measures were eventually struck down.

If the issue is a public that is uneducated about basic electoral procedures and civics in general, I would argue that the problem lies with the educational system. While an education should be guaranteed, a diploma is not. If a kid can't answer basic questions, such as how many branches does the federal government contain, he should not be allowed to get a diploma. While this in itself may not make a better-educated population, it will incentivize people to learn about the system and over time lead to better-educated voters.

In a way this is the strategy behind the Republicans' No Child Left Behind (NCLB). By giving teachers and administrators incentives to teach kids basic skills, such as reading, writing and math, and disincentives for failing to do so, there is a better chance that students will be taught these skills. As much as teachers' unions and Democrats have griped about the legislation, it's hard to argue with the results.

Quote:

...analyses of the state accountability systems that were in place before NCLB indicate that accountability for outcomes led to faster growth in achievement for the states that introduced such systems. The direct analysis of state test scores before and after enactment of NCLB also supports its positive impact.

Source = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act
deanhills
jmi256 wrote:
The idea of a "test" to secure voting rights was tried by Democrats in the south following the Civil War to keep blacks from voting. They were extremely unhappy that Lincoln and the Republican Party was able to free the slaves and to maintain their hold on power they instituted many hurdles, such as a reading test, designed to keep blacks from passing. Leading up, during and after to the Civil War the Democrats even made it illegal to educate slaves and former slaves, so understandably they were unable to pass a simple reading test, which many times constituted just reading a line from the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution. Thankfully these measures were eventually struck down.

If the issue is a public that is uneducated about basic electoral procedures and civics in general, I would argue that the problem lies with the educational system. While an education should be guaranteed, a diploma is not. If a kid can't answer basic questions, such as how many branches does the federal government contain, he should not be allowed to get a diploma. While this in itself may not make a better-educated population, it will incentivize people to learn about the system and over time lead to better-educated voters.

In a way this is the strategy behind the Republicans' No Child Left Behind (NCLB). By giving teachers and administrators incentives to teach kids basic skills, such as reading, writing and math, and disincentives for failing to do so, there is a better chance that students will be taught these skills. As much as teachers' unions and Democrats have griped about the legislation, it's hard to argue with the results.

Quote:

...analyses of the state accountability systems that were in place before NCLB indicate that accountability for outcomes led to faster growth in achievement for the states that introduced such systems. The direct analysis of state test scores before and after enactment of NCLB also supports its positive impact.

Source = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act
Good points. But then there is a problem that the teaching may be unequal and different in different states. For example compare the teaching in the State of Mississippi with that in the State of California and the end products may be very different. But agreed however that if the teaching could be made apolitical and done well, that this may alleviate a lot of the problems regarding ability to vote.
ocalhoun
jmi256 wrote:


If the issue is a public that is uneducated about basic electoral procedures and civics in general, I would argue that the problem lies with the educational system.

No, the main problem is that the students don't care, and have little reason to care.

The material is available, both in schools and to the already-graduated public.
The ignorant among us can do a little studying. It is a small price to pay for the future of the nation.
Solon_Poledourus
jimi256 wrote:
In a way this is the strategy behind the Republicans' No Child Left Behind (NCLB). By giving teachers and administrators incentives to teach kids basic skills, such as reading, writing and math, and disincentives for failing to do so, there is a better chance that students will be taught these skills. As much as teachers' unions and Democrats have griped about the legislation, it's hard to argue with the results.
The test scores do look better under NCLB. Unfortunately, when I work with kids, or talk to parents of kids or their teachers, I am told time and again that kids really aren't being taught these skills any more than they used to be. They are being taught how to take tests. And anyone who has taken a college entry exam can tell you that learning how to take a test, rather than learning the material, will yield the results required in much less time with much less effort.
ocalhoun wrote:
No, the main problem is that the students don't care, and have little reason to care.

The material is available, both in schools and to the already-graduated public.
The ignorant among us can do a little studying. It is a small price to pay for the future of the nation.
Exactly, and teachers have no reason to care either. It's unrealistic for them to suddenly raise the bar on kids, it has to be gradual or the failure rate would be astounding. Unfortunately, a gradual process doesn't bring in the immediate gratification of good test scores, which are touted so much as the success of the NCLB act. The solution that schools and teachers have found is in teaching kids techniques to pass tests. This doesn't teach kids the full scope of the material, nor does it teach them very essential skills, other than test taking.
deanhills
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
Exactly, and teachers have no reason to care either. It's unrealistic for them to suddenly raise the bar on kids, it has to be gradual or the failure rate would be astounding. Unfortunately, a gradual process doesn't bring in the immediate gratification of good test scores, which are touted so much as the success of the NCLB act. The solution that schools and teachers have found is in teaching kids techniques to pass tests. This doesn't teach kids the full scope of the material, nor does it teach them very essential skills, other than test taking.
If it were made as a fun exercise, whereby teachers feel passion about teaching the subject, rather than preparing it as a dull subject for testing, it may be completely different. For example come election time, this would be a good time for teaching the subject and getting kids to be excited to vote. Perhaps there could be a simulated voting for kids at school as practical projects so that the testing would come out of "doing" rather than learning a dead subject.
Solon_Poledourus
deanhills wrote:
If it were made as a fun exercise, whereby teachers feel passion about teaching the subject, rather than preparing it as a dull subject for testing, it may be completely different. For example come election time, this would be a good time for teaching the subject and getting kids to be excited to vote. Perhaps there could be a simulated voting for kids at school as practical projects so that the testing would come out of "doing" rather than learning a dead subject.
I had a couple of teachers who used this approach. It works great, but when teachers get paid low wages, what is their motivation to have fun at work? When schools have low funding, they don't have the resources to liven up the activities. Some teachers really do love to teach, but even then, they are fighting an uphill battle with apathetic students and an educational system which is under-funded and demands test score results. More funding for schools and better pay for teachers is the first step in getting things done. It would motivate teachers to make things interesting, which would have a positive effect on students. This is not an overnight process though, and when politicians put things out like NCLB, they are wanting immediate results, which is unrealistic.
deanhills
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
deanhills wrote:
If it were made as a fun exercise, whereby teachers feel passion about teaching the subject, rather than preparing it as a dull subject for testing, it may be completely different. For example come election time, this would be a good time for teaching the subject and getting kids to be excited to vote. Perhaps there could be a simulated voting for kids at school as practical projects so that the testing would come out of "doing" rather than learning a dead subject.
I had a couple of teachers who used this approach. It works great, but when teachers get paid low wages, what is their motivation to have fun at work? When schools have low funding, they don't have the resources to liven up the activities. Some teachers really do love to teach, but even then, they are fighting an uphill battle with apathetic students and an educational system which is under-funded and demands test score results. More funding for schools and better pay for teachers is the first step in getting things done. It would motivate teachers to make things interesting, which would have a positive effect on students. This is not an overnight process though, and when politicians put things out like NCLB, they are wanting immediate results, which is unrealistic.
I can see your point. I saw a movie last week, which apparently was based on a true story of a teacher like that working with pupils who came from disadvantaged homes. He then went on to start his own schools, and probably for the reasons you cited. Something is not that good with teaching, not only in the United States, but all over the world. When it gets to budgets, it is shocking how little is voted for education.
chalkpit3
It makes *absolute* sense. A right (such as the right to vote) is granted without qualification. That's what makes it a right, not a privilege.

And that is exactly why idiots have a right to vote, but have to compete for the privilege of driving.
chalkpit3
Whoops - that'll be me posting to the wrong Forum. Apologies.
Roald
To summarize now because the discussion is becoming lengthy:
Solon_Poledourus, ocalhoun and deanhills are behind the idea of creating a test that would filter our the more ignorant people from voting.
While Stubru Freak and I point out that democracy is a basic right, and that everyone should be able to express his/her opinion even if they aren't fully aware of the consequences.

Everyone does agree that education should play a far more bigger role in 'training' people to be able to vote and that this should be done by better investments in education.
deanhills
Roald wrote:
To summarize now because the discussion is becoming lengthy:
Solon_Poledourus, ocalhoun and deanhills are behind the idea of creating a test that would filter our the more ignorant people from voting.
This is probably more or less right, except I would not use the word "ignorant". Rather "unqualified" along the lines of people who are mentally impaired, who do not know what they are doing when they are voting. The test I suggested was a very basic one of the kind that you get when people apply for citizenship. Children from grade school would be able to complete it. I must say I still can't understand why people who are mentally impaired can vote, but children can't? Don't they have rights too?
Solon_Poledourus
I really just wonder about a society that gives away the right to do something as important as voting, but makes people take tests to be qualified for far less important things. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Some people say that it's part of the freedom of democracy, but I don't buy that. Why is voting part of that freedom, but not driving? Or practicing psychology? Or any number of things.

It is far more dangerous in the long run to have millions of unqualified idiots voting than to have millions of unqualified idiots driving.
deanhills
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
Why is voting part of that freedom, but not driving? Or practicing psychology? Or any number of things.
I thought about that too. Perhaps driving has to do with safety of others, so has psychology.
Solon_Poledourus
deanhills wrote:
I thought about that too. Perhaps driving has to do with safety of others, so has psychology.
That was my point. Voting has more to do with public safety than anything else we do.
deanhills
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
deanhills wrote:
I thought about that too. Perhaps driving has to do with safety of others, so has psychology.
That was my point. Voting has more to do with public safety than anything else we do.
Meaning? That this is why people then should be qualified to vote, rather than having it as a right?
furtasacra
Hmm. I often feel that stupid people shouldn't be allowed to vote, but it just opens up too many cans of worms. In a country with free public education, free public libraries and a constant barrage of information coming from every direction, there's really no excuse for being ignorant unless you actually are mentally impaired in some way... and if you don't care enough to educate yourself about the issues, I feel that you have no business voting.

But I also occasionally wish that racists, sexists, and religious whack jobs were barred from voting. I'm quite sure the racists, sexists, and religious whack jobs would feel that taking away MY vote would be in the best interest of Amurrka, too... which brings me to my actual point.

Once you start picking and choosing who is qualified to vote and who isn't, it's only so long before ideological bullcrap seeps in and different groups start trying to get people with different views from their own removed from the voter rolls, instead of just going by education or literacy or whatever.

All there is left to do is let everybody who is of age vote, but try to pound some knowledge into them first.

On a lighter note, in the interest of having a more enlightened electorate, can we send Glenn 'Believe something, even if it's wrong' Beck into orbit around Neptune? I used to think he was amusing, but that one remark sent me into a near-apoplectic rage, and I've violently disliked him ever since. Laughing
deanhills
furtasacra wrote:

All there is left to do is let everybody who is of age vote, but try to pound some knowledge into them first.
I can't understand that if voting is a right that there should then be a limitation of age. If it has really got to do with freedom, everyone should be able to vote. If someone who cannot read or write is eligible to vote, so should children in the primary school. Conversely, if there is a limitation on age, then all of those who vote should have the equivalent of education of someone "of age".
Solon_Poledourus
furtasacra wrote:
Once you start picking and choosing who is qualified to vote and who isn't, it's only so long before ideological bullcrap seeps in and different groups start trying to get people with different views from their own removed from the voter rolls, instead of just going by education or literacy or whatever.
But this type of thing hasn't happened to the drivers license. Wouldn't you think that racists or other bigots would try to corrupt the DMV testing to the point of preventing minorities from driving? It seems ridiculous, I know, but it is a test to decide if someone is qualified for something, and the potential to unfairly discriminate is just as likely at the DMV as it is on the voter rolls. But Uncle Sam tells us voting is a right, and driving is a privilege, so we accept it and don't think to ask why it is that way.
furtasacra wrote:
Hmm. I often feel that stupid people shouldn't be allowed to vote, but it just opens up too many cans of worms. In a country with free public education, free public libraries and a constant barrage of information coming from every direction, there's really no excuse for being ignorant unless you actually are mentally impaired in some way... and if you don't care enough to educate yourself about the issues, I feel that you have no business voting.
This is the approach we take with driving, and it works quite well. No corruption to speak of, even though it is perfectly possible. People get a drivers manual, study it, take the test and are now licensed to drive. The same could be done with voting. And yet people think that would be unfair. But nobody seems to think that taking a drivers test to qualify for the ability to drive is unfair or potentially corrupted to benefit certain people more than others.
furtasacra wrote:
On a lighter note, in the interest of having a more enlightened electorate, can we send Glenn 'Believe something, even if it's wrong' Beck into orbit around Neptune? I used to think he was amusing, but that one remark sent me into a near-apoplectic rage, and I've violently disliked him ever since.
Yes. He is a tool, and if I didn't fully support his right to speak his worthless garbage, I would have already strapped him to a rocket.
furtasacra
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
furtasacra wrote:
On a lighter note, in the interest of having a more enlightened electorate, can we send Glenn 'Believe something, even if it's wrong' Beck into orbit around Neptune? I used to think he was amusing, but that one remark sent me into a near-apoplectic rage, and I've violently disliked him ever since.
Yes. He is a tool, and if I didn't fully support his right to speak his worthless garbage, I would have already strapped him to a rocket.


Now, here's a question. Beck (and others of his ilk) have a right to free speech, but does free speech cover presenting their opinions as facts? If it does, it shouldn't. I don't think the first amendment was ever intended to protect people from the consequences of being a liar.
liljp617
furtasacra wrote:
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
furtasacra wrote:
On a lighter note, in the interest of having a more enlightened electorate, can we send Glenn 'Believe something, even if it's wrong' Beck into orbit around Neptune? I used to think he was amusing, but that one remark sent me into a near-apoplectic rage, and I've violently disliked him ever since.
Yes. He is a tool, and if I didn't fully support his right to speak his worthless garbage, I would have already strapped him to a rocket.


Now, here's a question. Beck (and others of his ilk) have a right to free speech, but does free speech cover presenting their opinions as facts? If it does, it shouldn't. I don't think the first amendment was ever intended to protect people from the consequences of being a liar.


Well it warrants your right to call him out on something like that.
Solon_Poledourus
furtasacra wrote:
Now, here's a question. Beck (and others of his ilk) have a right to free speech, but does free speech cover presenting their opinions as facts? If it does, it shouldn't. I don't think the first amendment was ever intended to protect people from the consequences of being a liar.
liljp617 wrote:
Well it warrants your right to call him out on something like that.
Exactly. That's the beauty of that right. He can present his opinions as fact, for the same reason that some guy can claim that "Bigfoot" is a zoological fact. With the right of free speech, they can say these things publicly, and we can fact check them and call them out publicly.
deanhills
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
furtasacra wrote:
Now, here's a question. Beck (and others of his ilk) have a right to free speech, but does free speech cover presenting their opinions as facts? If it does, it shouldn't. I don't think the first amendment was ever intended to protect people from the consequences of being a liar.
liljp617 wrote:
Well it warrants your right to call him out on something like that.
Exactly. That's the beauty of that right. He can present his opinions as fact, for the same reason that some guy can claim that "Bigfoot" is a zoological fact. With the right of free speech, they can say these things publicly, and we can fact check them and call them out publicly.
Once we go along criticism of spokesmen in the media, and perhaps legislate this, where will it stop? How about the influence of political leaders on their following, or what do we say about the leaders and spokesmen for anti-abortion groups? Their points of view are very much public, and they have quite a heavy hand in their influence of people. How do we know that the major influence came from the media and Roeder was not more influenced and exposed to people in closer range, such as from anti-abortionists?
Solon_Poledourus
deanhills wrote:
Once we go along criticism of spokesmen in the media, and perhaps legislate this, where will it stop?
This freedom ends when something called "criminal culpability" comes into play. With public speakers, this usually manifests in the form of inciting riots, slander, defamation of character, false accusation and threats(there are more, but you get the point).
deanhills
Solon_Poledourus wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Once we go along criticism of spokesmen in the media, and perhaps legislate this, where will it stop?
This freedom ends when something called "criminal culpability" comes into play. With public speakers, this usually manifests in the form of inciting riots, slander, defamation of character, false accusation and threats(there are more, but you get the point).
So would you say that Roeder's allegiance to anti-abortion is criminal and should anti-abortionists be outlawed? Isn't this where it all started in the name of freedom of speech? All of the rest are just logical consequences of something that is quite out of control?
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