Paul Stettner: A test for candidates

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Regarding the “Should ‘ignorant’ people vote?” column by Rob Douglas in the Aug. 17 Steamboat Today:

Rob! In relating the commentary by CNN contributor LZ Granderson, you brought up an issue of import for us to think about. That is, should voters have to take and pass a test before being allowed to vote? In your article, the term “ignorant people” applies only to us voters.

Now, perhaps we should ask if the following scenarios are more appropriate:

  1. Before requiring that voters pass a test in order to be allowed to vote, we first require that candidates running for the House or Senate take a test before they are allowed to run and, if successful, before they can vote.

  2. Expand the scope of test questions — no cheat sheets allowed. The hypothetical questions proposed in your article address only some government functions plus some history questions. They would not sufficiently demonstrate a candidate’s knowledge of political and civic matters, of history, science, geopolitics, etc., the “major political issues of the day” or his/her critical thinking capabilities.

Possible ideas for additional questions:

■ Is the Earth round or is it flat?

■ Locate Afghanistan, Pakistan and China on a world map (10-minute time limit)

■ Is Africa a country or a continent?

■ What are the main issues (local, national and global) that concern you (at least one of each, please)?

■ Should representatives and senators receive pensions and health benefits when not in office?

■ Are corporations really people? If so, should we be allowed to give them a death sentence?

■ In making decisions, do you tend to follow your gut, consult an astrologer, review the details or other?

Obviously it would not be a pass-fail test but more like a questionnaire to be published. We, the voters, deserve and need to have a better idea of who it is that we are voting for. We don’t want to be voting for a single-issue candidate, do we?

It would be interesting to also have incumbents take the “test.” But it’s too late. Some might panic, so we probably have to leave them alone to muddle on.

Paul Stettner

Steamboat Springs

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