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The National Voter Qualification Test: A Modest Proposal

Republicans have been concerned about voter fraud.  A far more dangerous threat to our democracy is voter ignorance.  Maybe it’s time for a poll test to assure that voters know a little about the issues that say they care about.

Let’s give it a whirl.

OK, everyone got a number two pencil ready?  Begin.

1) If deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and easy money caused the Great Recession, the fix is:

a) Regulate Wall Street and big banks, repeal the tax cuts for the rich, and institute standards for credit and loans that mitigate risk.

b) More deregulation, more tax cuts for the rich, and less market intervention.

c) I hate big Gubmint.

2) If the deficit was caused by tax cuts for the rich, continued corporate tax evasion  (the US has one of the lowest effective corporate tax rates in the developed world), unfunded wars, a giant giveaway to the pharmaceutical companies in the form of an unfunded drug program, and a bloated Defense budget, then the way to cut the deficit is:

a) Repeal the tax cuts, fund the prescription drug program, stop the wars, reduce Defense spending, collect corporate taxes, require the rich to pay their full share of income and payroll taxes, and require them to pay their full share of taxes on capital gains.

b) cut taxes, raise Defense spending, stay in Iraq, cut corporate taxes, cut programs designed to lower medical and drug costs.

c) I hate big Gubmint.

3) If austerity during an economic downturn has historically caused economies to slow down whenever it has been applied, and it is currently causing  double dip recessions in Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece, then:

a) we should not institute an austerity program until the economy is stronger.

b) we should double down on austerity, cutting government programs even as we cut taxes – although we should raise the Defense budget which has one of the lowest simulative effects of any government expenditure.

c) I hate big Gubmint.

4) If : first, the US’s stimulus program saved or created some 3.5 million jobs, and  second, countries like Germany, China and Brazil -- where government is a full partner with the private sector -- have lost fewer jobs and maintained a stronger economy than countries where government doesn’t do these things, then:

a) We should pass another economic stimulus program, focusing on high ROI investments such as shoring up aging public infrastructure, fostering clean energy, and enabling state and local governments to stop firing teachers, police and firefighters.

b) Cut government programs and repeat in an even louder voice, that the stimulus program didn’t work and government can’t pick winners and shouldn’t intervene in the market (even though government has a better track record at this than private industry).

c) I hate big Gubmint.


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5) If income disparity was a major contributor to the three biggest economic collapses in US history, and 30 years of conservative laissez-faire policies like lowering taxes for the “job creators” and businesses, union busting, eliminating social programs, deregulating industry and Wall Street, and making government smaller (aka weaker), has caused extreme income inequality then we should:

a) pursue policies such as making the wealthy pay a tax share comparable to what they paid in more prosperous times; encourage unions; fund social programs, regulate the financial sector, and shore up government’s ability to intervene to assure a level playing field and equitable sharing of profits.

b) cut taxes on the rich even more while increasing taxes on poor and middle income Americans, get rid of even the weak-kneed regulations imposed on Wall Street, launch a full-scale attack on unions, shrink or eliminate the social safety net, and wait for the wealth to “trickle down.”

c) I hate big Gubmint.

 6) Government tyranny is:

a) Telling people who they can marry and who they cannot, telling women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies, detaining people without a warrant, wiretapping people without a warrant, imposing a particular religious perspective upon laws and policies, allowing corporations and the uber-wealthy to buy off candidates and political parties.

b) Requiring corporations to respect the environment; to pay a living wage; to assure the safety and reliability of their products, goods and services; to pay their fair share of taxes and to not expect a tax cut for exporting jobs overseas.

c) I hate big Gubmint.

7) Global warming is one of the biggest threats to the future of humans, it would cause extinction of up to half of the world’s species and the major cause of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels. Accordingly, we should:

a) get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible, support a rapid conversion to cleaner energy, and accept the resulting massive increase in the number of jobs as an ancillary benefit.

b) Ignore it or deny it; oppose clean energy subsidies; grant a record number of leases for drilling oil on public land; continue to allow mountain top mining; call for even more drilling than we are now doing.

            c) I hate big Gubmint.

OK, let’s see how you did.  If the majority of your answers were “a” you may vote – although you may have a hard time finding anyone on the ballot to vote for.  Try looking for third party candidates not being bought off by plutocrats or possibly, consider one of the few truly progressive Democrats.

If the majority of your answers were “b,” you should be required to take a refresher course – Reality 101 – to help you distinguish vacuous talking points from … well … reality.  Upon successfully passing the course, you are eligible to take the voter eligibility test again.

If the majority of your answers were “c” you may not vote.  You probably should take breathing lessons. At the very least, you should calm down and avoid parties where tea is served.

John Atcheson

John Atcheson

screen_shot_2017-07-26_at_9.09.47_pm.pngJohn Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track, both available from Amazon. Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson

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