Presidential ignorance is a curse…

You may remember many moons ago I posted about American citizenship, and whether or not a citizenship exam should include questions on things like sports, world events, and cultural awareness. Now in this bloggers humble opinion, these things are not a true measure of whether or not a person will be a good American.

I would rather have every aspiring American citizen take an ethics test and be done with it. In fact I’d like to see every young American, not just immigrants be required to take a federally mandated ethics test when they reach legal age, before they are allowed to be considered a legal adult. I think the country would benefit from this more than anything else. The rest of it is almost inconsequential by comparison.

Almost. There are many positions where I think a broader, more comprehensive test of ones knowledge, ethics, social awareness and general knowledge of world events and character should be a mandatory requirement. High ranking police and military are a couple that come to mind some of them. Even your average street cop should ideally have comprehensive periodic psych evals, as well as more ethics and social training. But most important of all, President of the United States of America should be one of those positions that requires all of the above.

Before you ever get to see elections, or even start running for president, I think you should, at the very least, be able to demonstrate significantly above average ability on an IQ test, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of social, political and world issues. This should be a requirement for the position.

Why? Because ignorance has absolutely no place in a presidential office. No self respecting IT department would hire a professional bricklayer for their server administration. Nor would a construction company hire a nerd for manual labor. Why does the same not apply for the oval office? People with that kind of power need to know how to use it intelligently. And when I read some of the (many) questionable things our outgoing president has to say, It is clear to me that he is lacking in that department:

In a speech defending his administration’s Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation.

“I heard somebody say, Where’s Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas,” – [Reuters]

Saddam killed all the Mandelas?!? You know, any country as great as this one really ought to be run by someone who has a modicum of awareness about important world leaders, events, issues, etc. I’m all for presidency being open to any American citizen, but shouldn’t there at least be some sort of IQ requirement? World knowledge? Social awareness? How about the basic ability to form coherent, meaningful and intelligent sentences?

The presidency should be open to everyone, but at the same time, becoming president should be a highly selective process. I don’t believe that it should be solely the domain of highly educated aristocrats though. Lord knows we don’t need more classism. But I think that maybe the presidency shouldn’t be an option for your common, average everyday ignoramus either…

Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark – [Reuters]


2 Responses to “Presidential ignorance is a curse…”

  1. September 26, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Great post. What would be an example of a question on the standard ethics test?

  2. September 26, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Well, ethics is really a question of understanding the complex intricacies of understanding why the right action is right and the wrong action is wrong in any given scenario. So IMHO the best ethics tests would consist of open-ended essay questions like this:

    You are a police officer who has just witnessed a fellow officer exhibit a serious error in processing a violent criminal. You personally witnessed this criminal in the act, so there is no question in your mind about the criminals guilt. However your partners error misrepresents the crime committed and could result in significantly heavier penalties for the criminal. The problem is that reporting this error now could result in your fellow officer, a veteran officer whom you have worked with, and know to be a decent, kind and diligent peace officer, being fired. What do you do? And why?

    How a person answers a question like this (assuming they do so honestly) can provide a lot of insight into how their ethical compass is calibrated.

    I think yet another important facet of leadership is the ability to think objectively. Ironically this whole presidential thing reminds me of another interesting scenario that I personally think is a good test of ones objectivity:

    It’s election year for the next president of the United States, and yours is the deciding vote. You have to choose between three candidates. This is what you know about them so far:

    Candidate A is a decorated war hero, a vegetarian, doesn’t smoke, drinks beer once in a blue moon, and has never had an extra-marital affair.
    Candidate B associates with crooked politicians, consults with astrologers, has had two mistresses, chain smokes, and drinks up to ten Martinis a day.
    Candidate C has been ejected from office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a copious amounts of whisky every night.

    Who do you elect? And Why?

    From a purely objective/ethical standpoint, there is only one correct course of action/answer to both of these questions, and only a person who truly understands ethics and objectivity will be able to surmise the right ones.

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