Elected Officials Fail Civics Quiz

In today’s bread and circuses world, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that Americans overwhelmingly fail a quiz on civics. What is slightly surprising is that our elected officials do even worse:

Are most people, including college graduates, civically illiterate? Do elected officials know even less than most citizens about civic topics such as history, government, and economics? The answer is yes on both counts according to a new study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI). More than 2,500 randomly selected Americans took ISI’s basic 33 question test on civic literacy and more than 1,700 people failed, with the average score 49 percent, or an “F.” Elected officials scored even lower than the general public with an average score of 44 percent and only 0.8 percent (or 21) of all surveyed earned an “A.” Even more startling is the fact that over twice as many people know Paula Abdul was a judge on American Idol than know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Now, I went to their website, and took the quiz. It’s surprisingly harder than I thought it would be. I do have one criticism, in that several of the questions are very confusingly worded, and several appear to be free-market biased, which I agree with but may not be entirely objective. But if you have a basic understanding of American history and civics, you should be able to do fine.

It’s striking, though, that our elected officials are unable to pass this quiz. These are the people responsible for our government, and they don’t know the history or role of government. The questions are somewhat difficult in a few cases, but there’s nothing in there that shouldn’t be easy knowledge for anyone who would have the temerity to run for political office.

If these guys can’t be bothered to know about America, why is it that we grant them the power to run it?

Check out the quiz, and feel free to post your scores in the comments section. I was a bit disappointed, as I only answered 32 of 33 correctly…