Congressional Candidates and Incumbents Should Be Required To Pass Rigorous Academic and Professional Examinations Before Being Given Seat In Public Office

Checks and Balances. It’s the supposed foundation of democratic transparency that ensures the US government will always maintain certain levels of power allotment, disallowing any one branch disproportionate power and influence.

But what about the checks and balances required for Congress people to take office in the first place? Sure, they are elected into their positions of public service by their voter constituencies, but should that (and age) be the end all of requirements to be a part of the elected leadership of the United States?

It certainly isn’t easy. Getting elected into Federal Congress is one of the more difficult tasks any aspiring politician can hope to achieve. Getting to the upper echelons of local government and party politics, in order to be nominated for Congress takes years of dedication, sometimes starting with door to door soliciting of political support based on a certain platform. Other than the simple age requirements, our representatives spend years establishing a voter base, strong political dispositions, and relationships with sources for capital (campaign finance is, after all, quite the tricky business). But what happens when they convince a large constituency that they’ve got the people’s best interest in mind, and actually get voted into Congress? Is that enough to ensure the best and the brightest, not to mention the most qualified people are running our government?

Universities, private organizations, and various other professions require rigorous testing of their candidates before positions are allotted to them. Sure, most (if not all) people in Congress have been to college, some have a laundry list of professional experience, and others, like our president, are actually lawyers from some of the most highly esteemed institutions of higher education in the world (Obama is a Harvard Law alum, in case you were wondering).
This is not enough, especially when public politics in a capitalist republic are concerned, where there are numerous avenues and opportunities for “moral grey areas” to take hold, and shift priorities. Our leaders need to be held to higher standards. The caveats of political correctness will have us saying “to each their own”, to make us ignore the disillusionment of having the likes of Palin, Bachmann, Barton, Lewis, and their ilk representing us and making sure the best interests of the people and the Constitution are what they consistently work for. The ugly truth is, some of our leadership gets elected simply because they’re master orators catering to the lowest common denominator of public intelligence, and that is extremely dangerous.

If history is any guide, the recent debt ceiling debacle should be enough to demand a test of intellect before taking the upper echelons of public office. Bi-partisan bickering and distraction, economic brinkmanship, and a complete lack of intelligent decision making and compromise are slowly becoming the norm on Capitol Hill, and it’s about time there were checks and balances in place to make sure these professionals remain just that, professionals.

We often hear the old adage, “Don’t complain about a problem unless you’ve got a way to fix it.” So, here is a start: A preliminary list of subjects that every single person in Federal and State public office should be tested on, and proficient in, before being given their seat.

The Constitution Of the United States of America

It is imperative that our leadership is not only well versed, and can recite passages from the founding document of our nation, but they should intrinsically understand it, and all of its underlying ideals and caveats. This means questions which go deeper than “which part of the Constitution is…” They should be questions that test the candidates on the legally binding, philosophically important, and modern applicatory characteristics of the document. Think LSAT and BAR exam level questioning on this one document alone, the ultimate case study.

Economics and Finance

Not just the run of the mill banker’s education, either. Our leadership should be fully aware of the underlying ambitions and history of the financial institutions that have such a huge grip on our national well-being. Capitalism should be allowed to thrive, but we can’t consistently have cries for a more “open/free market” from the corporate world, while they continue to receive taxpayer welfare any time they’re in trouble. A free market means if you make mistakes, you die. The cyclical market bailouts and continued disproportionate support of the banking ecosystem by our leadership is a recipe for disaster. So when an industry analyst or master economist from a large banking institution sits in front of our simple leaders and prophesizes complete disaster unless a taxpayer bailout is issued…that’s just stupid, and extremely dangerous for the populous, as has been proven in recent years.

History and Sociology

These two go hand in hand, as the study of history will often describe in accurate detail the overall makeup of a society at any given time in any given nation. Socio-economic modality, the dynamics of multi-cultural constituencies, and the effects of mass psychology should be studied and mastered. Furthermore, for the sake of foreign policy, our leaders should have a thorough understanding of geo-political context, and cultural relativism when dealing with allies, enemies, and neutral nations alike.

Science and Engineering

The idea here isn’t to have every Congressperson become an engineer or research scientist. Rather, the core ambition of this type of testing would be to educate potential political leaders about the importance of innovation, the direct positive correlation it has towards economic growth, and the exponential betterment of the quality of life. By understanding FULLY the ancillary benefits of a robust and continuously growing and well-supported scientific community, our leadership will understand the importance of maintaining and incentivizing real scientific discourse, rewarding substantial and applicable discoveries, not hyper-complex mathematical models which game markets and create massive wealth with almost zero labor.

This list is far from exhaustive, and the questions of logistics still remain. Who would compile the exam? Who would administer it? How often would it change to guard against cheating, etc.?

It isn’t a complete fix, but the idea sure is a start, because it isn’t too much to ask that the people running the US are smart enough to understand, at a basic level, the entire breadth of issues that might come across their desks.

14 comments on “Congressional Candidates and Incumbents Should Be Required To Pass Rigorous Academic and Professional Examinations Before Being Given Seat In Public Office”

  1. AngryRedditor says:

    From Reddit:

    what you could do is create a private certification agency that administers the test, creates a code of ethics, and demands certain educational requirements. Those candidates who pass the test could use the registered trademark CERTIFIED PUBLIC SERVANT (CPS).
    You could also set up CPS for local, state, and federal level. (CFPS, CLPS-, and CSPS-.
    We could create a CPS Board of Standards and a CPS Ethical Review Committee for registrants to maintain the mark.

    1. mbzastava says:

      “what you could do is create a private certification agency that” WRONG. That’s exactly what you DO NOT do… It must be fully opensource and administered by the PUBLIC! All we need is another S&P going around telling the public that so-and-so official here or there is AAA-rated…

      1. mbzastava says:

        “all we need” should be “the last thing we need.” i forgot sarcasm fails on teh internets.

  2. mbzastava says:

    but yes, this idea is AWESOME!

  3. Burnsbabe says:

    And who writes the test? This would function no differently than poll taxes and voting tests did in the south under Jim Crow. It SOUNDS great when you first read it, and it speaks to the country’s frustration with its congressional representatives, but it would be a bad idea, wouldn’t work, and is likely unconstitutional.

    1. David says:

      How about having them pass a high-school level American History class? I honestly wonder how many elected officials could even do this.

      1. Herdepi says:

        The BOE, and the town for that matter, are clrlnotoed , not governed but clrlnotoed , by the Democrats. There is a big difference. The BOE is supposed to be non-partisan , not under the control of any party. You can go to most BOE meetings and not hear children or eduction mentioned once because of blatant party politics .BOE members are Danny O’Brien is the Pennsauken Twp Tax Collector and Assessor and also a Camden Co Democratic Committee person from District 8. Dr Allyson Meloni is the daughter of former Democrat Municipal Chair Honorable Louis Meloni. She has a sister employed high in the Twp government and her brother is in charge of Food Services for the BOE. Matt McDevitt and Dung Nguyen are Camden County Democrat Committee people from Districts 13 and 1. And last, but not least, Bernie Kofoet Pennsauken Twp Supervisor for the Dept of Public Works and President of the M-P Water Commission. Non-partisan ? Independent ?Jack Killion, Mayor, proudly point out that they (the Democrats) can do anything they want. He is right. They are, and have been in charge at the BOE. Their fingerprints are all over the failing school system. So do we reward failure by re-electing the same team ? Not where I come from.A strong Superintendent is needed. That is not likely to happen because the party first members of the BOE want someone who will do what they want. The mention of a forensic audit, due to the departure of the Superintendent and Business Administrator, threw the Democrats at the BOE, and the Township, into shock. We can’t have that was overheard.All of that can change this Wednesday April 27th. A change is needed at the BOE. That is not the smell of dead fish coming from the BOE.

  4. C says:

    The first and only question would be: “Is this test constitutional?”

    More seriously, it’s a great idea but, by its very nature, extremely difficult to implement correctly. Moreover, it would be impossible in today’s anti-intellectual atmosphere to get anything remotely like this into place.

    1. Burnsbabe says:


  5. iamhe says:

    candidates need to swear an oath to always act in the best interest of the people over that of the corporation… and psychological testing and screening for sociopathy should be used to keep sociopaths out of Government.. to accomplish a separation of sociopath and state..

    1. Product-Boy says:

      Psychological testing should be a necessity!!! That’s an excellent point. There certainly seems to be a lot of psychologically ill, particularly sociopathic and narcissistic politicians deciding the fate of millions.

      1. Auth says:

        Jonathan, I have to take issue with one of your comments. There is no “enemy of my enemy” here. I’ve sedolm met a Republican I’ve agreed with 100%, and to be sure it’s no secret a considerably smaller percentage of Democrats. BUT, I’m a Tea Party girl at heart and have to examine each situation as it comes. I will always side with the ones closest to my principles even if they are yards apart, rather than let the ones win that are miles apart. I’ll do my best to know the character of the school board members and candidates by word and deed, voting out the corruption accordingly…while praying my conservatives friends will eventually step up and get into the game. We have only ourselves to blame for not introducing like-minded people. Until then, I choose the better of our candidates.There’s too much at stake in this election with a new superintendent, business administrator and director of personnel search to be uninvolved. If the politically minded candidates win this election, our school system will continue to plummet.

  6. iamhe says:

    one out of 30 people are natural born sociopaths… there is no therapy, no medicine, no cure for them, they will spend their entire life unable to form a fully functioning humane conscience…

    they should not be allowed in government, or on FOX news, or on Th e Rush Linbagh show..

    there are ways to identify this pathology in people…

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