What is the most fundamental right of citizenship in the United States? If you answered, the right to collect a stipend from the Federal government you get the gong. According to the USCIS (The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) the correct answer is the right to vote.
USCIS is the agency that is responsible for making sure that immigrants who apply for citizenship have an understanding of our government and are qualified to become new members of American society. One of the requirements for citizenship is that these individuals be able to pass a test, taken from a field of one hundred questions. They are asked ten which are randomly selected and must answer at least six correctly.
It seems reasonable that we want new citizens to be thoughtful and understand the way in which our country operates. If voting is indeed the most fundamental right (and we’ve amended the Constitution four times to deal with this issue) then it certainly makes sense that we want an informed electorate to participate in that process.
I have posted the link to the list of potential questions below and if you review them you will certainly have no difficulty answering them. In fact, any high school graduate should be able to answer them – because by the time they are graduating they typically have gained the eligibility to vote.
I am fully confident that everyone who regularly reads this blog would score close to 100% on this test. Congratulations! And if you watch the video below you will realize that you are smarter than the average American bear. Be prepared to be shocked.
If you both reviewed the list of questions and watched this video you realize that all of the questions in the video were on the list which we might pose to those who want to become naturalized citizens. And you are also aware that the native born Americans in the video had, with one exception, great difficulty answering them.
So this leads me to a thought.
If you hold the designation, “General Securities Representative” in the financial services industry, the SEC mandates that you have to pass a continuing education exam and be certified that you are current in your knowledge of the business. Passing that exam is required every two years.
If you hold a driver’s license, you will periodically be required to take an eye examination, a written test and perhaps a road test to make sure that your skills still meet that state’s requirements to be designated a safe and knowledgeable driver and should be allowed to continue the privilege of operating a motor vehicle.
If we require a “literacy taste on American government” of those who aspire to American citizenship, is it unreasonable to expect that those of us who, through accident of birthplace, should not meet those same standards? Passing this test should be simple since we should have absorbed most of this information through osmosis if not through our school studies.
The USCIS is correct in saying that the “most fundamental right of citizenship is the right to vote.” But they omitted one very important phrase which I would add to the end of their statement. That phrase is, “in an informed manner.”
I would like to credit the genesis of this post to Rick to whose blog I subscribe. I would have re-blogged the post which served as inspiration but was unable to find a way to do that from his site. He has put up some very insightful posts and I would urge you to visit him at http://billericapolitics.org/.
If the people who were interviewed in the video are typical of many who will cast their ballots on November 6, 2012, we should all, “Be afraid – be very afraid.”