A Political Aptitude Test

<b>Andy Rooney's</b> New Suggestion To Replace Elections

A weekly commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.

No one but the candidates really paid much attention to the elections this year. Fewer than 40 percent of eligible Americans voted. There's something wrong with that, and I have an idea: Forget voting.

Make everyone running for office take a written test. Never mind the political speeches. Students take SATs - Scholastic Aptitude Tests to get into college. Every candidate would take a PAT - a Political Aptitude Test to get into office.

It would test them on their knowledge of the issues and on their intelligence. The candidate who got the highest score on the test would win.

Voters have been getting turned off lately because there are a lot of things wrong with our elections. To begin with, the average voter doesn't pick the candidates. We get them handed to us by professional politicians. In the primary election, we choose between several candidates we didn't pick. That's wrong.

This year 98 percent of the candidates already in the House of Representatives were re-elected. They won because they can do favors for people and for businesses who give them money. That's wrong. Unknown challengers don't have anything to offer.

In New York State, three candidates spent $140 million trying to get to be governor. You wonder what's in it for them. One business tycoon spent $65 million of his own money trying to buy the election. That's wrong.

The President didn't go into work 56 times this year because he was out making speeches for Republicans. He raised $140 million for them. Wrong. Not what we elected him to do.

It's not a party matter. President Clinton did the same thing in 2000.

We don't really know what the candidates believe and if we gave them a test, maybe we'd find out. They hate to answer YES or NO to anything so this Political Aptitude Test would have maybe 50 YES or NO questions.

I put down just a few sample questions.

  • If you thought it was necessary, would you raise taxes?
  • Should we attack Iraq?
  • Should there be prayer in schools to God or Allah?
  • Should we spend less on education and more on the military?
  • Should we spend less on the military and more on education?
The test would have questions like those. You can make up your own.

Someone asked me who would mark the tests and give the politicians their score.

Well, I'll do that.