Elected Officials Flunk U.S. Constitution Quiz

Your “Intellectual Elite” Government at Work

Or Your Leaders are “Dumber Than a Bucket of Wet Hair”

By Drew Zahn
© 2011 WorldNetDaily

US Constitution and Bill of Rights

In a survey of thousands of Americans, one subset – elected officials – proved particularly clueless on questions about the U.S. Constitution.

In fact, fewer than half could correctly answer such basic questions as “Who can declare war?” and “What are the three branches of government?”

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute reports it conducted the quiz of over 2,500 adults, asking 33 basic civics questions, many taken from nationally recognized instruments like the U.S. Citizenship Exam, including 10 questions related to the U.S. Constitution.

Of the sample size, 164 identified themselves as having been successfully elected to government office – whether federal, state or local positions – but the subset performed even poorer than the national average on questions about the government.

For example, only 15 percent of officials answered correctly that the phrase “wall of separation” appears in Thomas Jefferson’s letters – not in the U.S. Constitution – and only 57 percent knew the purpose of the Electoral College.

Twenty percent of the officials, reports Richard Brake in AOL News, thought that the Electoral College was a school for “training those aspiring for higher political office.”

“The fact that our elected representatives know even less about America’s history and institutions than the typical citizen (who doesn’t know much either) is troubling indeed,” writes Brake, who is co-chairman of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s National Civic Literacy Board, “but perhaps helps explain the lack of constitutional discipline often displayed by our political class at every level of our system.

“Given this dismal performance,” he continues, “it would seem that last week’s House reading of the Constitution shouldn’t be described ‘presumptuous and self-righteous’ [as a New York Times editorial dubbed it], but as a necessary national tutorial for all elected officials.”

Brake reports that the surveyed group, including a random sample of adults from all educational and demographic backgrounds but focused primarily on college students, outscored the elected official subset by five percentage points and topped the government officials on every constitutional question.

For example, only 49 percent of elected officials could name all three branches of government – legislative, executive and judicial – compared with 50 percent of the general public.

Similarly, only 46 percent of elected officials knew that Congress, not the president, has the power to declare war, while 54 percent of the general public identified the correct answer.

Overall, the average score for officeholders on the civic literacy test was 44 percent, compared to 49 percent for those who have not held an elected office

The compiled results show the general public proved significantly more knowledgeable than officeholders on the Cuban Missile Crisis (with a 14-percent difference in average score on a related question), Sputnik (an 11-percent difference) and the ability to identify the “inalienable rights” of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness named in the Declaration of Independence (13-percent difference).

ISI reports the elected officeholders came from the ranks of Democrats (40 percent), Republicans (31 percent), Independents (21 percent), and those who indicated no affiliation (8 percent). None were asked to specify what office they held, so the proportion in which they held local, state, or federal positions is unknown.

Overall, 74 percent of officeholders failed the exam, compared to 71 percent of those who had not held office.

You can take the exam yourself at ISI’s website.

3 Responses to “Elected Officials Flunk U.S. Constitution Quiz”

  1. Maybe they should have listened when the Constitution was read…

  2. Scary, scary, scary….they should be REQUIRED to take a constitutional class (and pass) before entering office.
    I took the test. I didn’t do as well as I expected. I got 87.88% correct. I missed 4 questions. I still outperformed all the elected officials who took this by a mile. Again, scary…

    • What’s really scarey? Well, I’d be willing to bet most liberals/progressives have no real knowledge of the Constitution either, except for what they are taught to hate about it (which is usually a lie). The only ones with intimate knowledge of the Constitution on the left are the high level, behind the scenes planners cooking up schemes to replace it like Cass Sunstein etc.

      The truth is, if people really knew what the Constitution says, they’d never have let things get this out of hand. If minorities really understood its meaning and its history, especially with slavery, they’d never mock nor ridicule it. They are usually lied to about why the South’s 3/5’s amendment was designed in the first place. It wasn’t about racism. It was about ending slavery. Had the south been able to count blacks as constituents so the South gets more representation in Congress, yet still be able to enslave them, slavery would never have ended.

      The argument was, “If you say slaves are property, then you cannot count them as part of the population. If they determine Congressional representation, then they deserve the same rights and freedoms.” The South found their rouse was failing miserably, as they couldn’t have their cake and eat it too. The 3/5’s was a compromise by the rest of Congress, knowing it wouldn’t last as more and more people grew to hate slavery. While Lincoln drew the final nail in slavery, the 3/5’s was the first shot to weaken it, as the argument was “well if you agree they are 3/5’s of a human, then don’t they deserve 3/5’s of human rights?” It only weakened the South’s arguments that slaves were property and not human beings.

      What minorities also do not know about American slavery was that the first slave owner was a black man, Anthony Johnson. His slave was John Caster. It was Anthony’s arguments in court that allowed slavery to be legal.

      Also, if more immigrants actually studied the Constitution (like many who emigrated from Communist nations have) I would guarantee they would not associate themselves with liberals/progressives, except maybe the ones who are only here for the welfare and free medical.

      So sad many are so ignorant of the Constitution, that they are actually brainwashed into thinking it is something bad. If they only knew what would happen to their lives if it were allowed to disappear.

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