Editorial: Our legislators need a lesson in civics
The Arizona Legislature made our state the first in the nation to require a civics test to graduate from high school. Fine and dandy - but it seems some of our lawmakers need a refresher course in that very subject.
But first - pop quiz!
Q: How many amendments does the U.S. Constitution have?
0 b. 10. c. 27. d. 36
Answer: c. 27.
The test would be drawn from the same test people take to become U.S. citizens. So, frankly, despite the naysayers complaining that it will cost money to administrate the test, and it's rote learning instead of critical thinking, and that requiring a test isn't an effective way of engaging people in civic knowledge, it's still a good idea.
This is basic stuff.
Q: What happened on June 6, 1944?
A. D-Day. b. Hitler shaved his mustache. c. Cars were invented. d. The moon landing.
I trust you know the answer to that one.
That question won't be on the test, most likely, but it's that kind of fundamental awareness we're talking about. This should be a ridiculously easy test for any student in any high school in America.
Ideally, we wouldn't need this assessment.
But I've met people who didn't know the difference between Congress and a state legislature, and couldn't grasp the concept that Congress has two parts - the Senate and the House of Representatives. I've met people who didn't know that city councils don't oversee school districts, and were genuinely surprised when I told them they are completely separate, elected bodies that do that.
True or false: The Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag used to include a salute that, today, we would associate with "Heil Hitler!"
It was known as the Bellamy salute, after Francis Bellamy, the author of the Pledge of Allegiance. (Bonus points - the pledge did not originally include the words "under God," which were added in 1954.) Again, not something that's likely to be on the test.
But it should be.
And now to the refresher course. State Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, has filed a bill that would allow people running for office to keep their addresses secret. According to the bill on file, "the candidate's residence address does not constitute a public record."
That, simply, is wrong. And I should note that our Mohave County legislators - Sen. Kelli Ward, Rep. Sonny Borrelli and Rep. Regina Cobb - have signed on as co-sponsors.
We have a representative government, and we need to know that our representatives actually live in our communities. That means we need to verify where our representatives live.
It's not exactly common for people to lie about residency when they file for office, but it's not uncommon either. That's why we need to check.
Townsend said she's had people trespass on her property, and she referenced the attack on Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona who survived an assassination attempt in 2011.
Rep. Townsend, I'm sorry for your troubles, but the answer is police and security, not legislation. And Giffords was shot at a public event, not her home.
Q: Are elected representatives accountable to the public they claim to serve?
And that includes knowing where you call home. If you don't want us to know that, then you should find another career.