A new naturalization test hasn't yet been unveiled but the grumbling has begun that it might require new immigrants to know more about history and government than born-and-bred Americans.
Frankly, that wouldn't be hard. Americans are grossly ignorant of how their government works, their history, and even our symbolism. Can you name Texas' two senators? Do you know who won the battle of Gettysburg? From whom did America declare independence -- and when?
Look around. At least half of the people you see can't answer those questions, despite years of history classes. Even Miss South Carolina now knows 1-in-5 Americans can't find the USA on a map. We're civics boobs.
The new tests seeks to bolster immigrants' assimilation by stressing the basics of American democracy, history, and citizenship rights and responsibilities ... not just ask the three colors of the American flag. That's good ... even if some folks would prefer an easier, "No Immigrant Left Behind" approach.
The problem is NOT that we might require immigrants to know more than lifelong Americans. The problem is that Americans don't know more than most immigrants! We shouldn't strive to "dumb down" our naturalization test, but we should strive to make already-here Americans smarter about our country. And maybe we could trade our flunkers to Nigeria for some future draft picks.
By clicking "Read More," you can see the 142 pilot questions used to refine the new test. Most of these questions will appear on the revamped naturalization test. Print them out and see if you and your family can answer at least 110 correctly. (If you can't ... well, I hear Nigeria is very nice this time of year.)
1. Name one important idea found in the Declaration of Independence.
2. What is the supreme law of the land?
3. What does the Constitution do?
4. What does “We the People” mean in the Constitution?
5. What do we call changes to the Constitution?
6. What is an amendment?
7. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
8. Name one right or freedom from the First Amendment. *
9. How many amendments does the Constitution have?
10. What did the Declaration of Independence do?
11. What does freedom of religion mean?
12. What type of economic system does the U.S. have?
13. What are the three branches or parts of the government?
14. Name one branch or part of the government.
15. Who is in charge of the executive branch?
16. Who makes federal laws?
17. What are the two parts of the United States Congress?
18. How many United States Senators are there?
19. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years? *
20. Name your state’s two U.S. Senators. *
21. How many U.S. Senators does each state have?
22. The House of Representatives has how many voting members? *
23. We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years?
24. Name your U.S. Representative.
25. Who does a U.S. Senator represent?
26. Who does a U.S. Representative represent?
27. What decides each state’s number of U.S. Representatives?
28. How is each state’s number of Representatives decided?
29. Why do we have three branches of government? *
30. Name one example of checks and balances.
31. We elect a President for how many years?
32. How old must a President be?
33. To become President of the United States, what must the person be at birth?
34. Who is the President now?
35. What is the name of the President of the United States?
36. Who is the Vice President now?
37. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States?
38. If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?
39. Who becomes President if both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve?
40. Who is the Commander-in-Chief of the military?
41. How many full terms can a President serve?
42. Who signs bills to become laws?
43. Who vetoes bills?
44. What is a veto?
45. What does the President’s Cabinet do? *
46. Name two Cabinet-level positions.
47. What Cabinet-level agency advises the President on foreign policy?
48. What does the judicial branch do? *
49. Who confirms Supreme Court justices?
50. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States?
51. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?
52. Who nominates justices to the Supreme Court?
53. Name one thing only the federal government can do.
54. What is one thing a state government can do?
55. What does it mean that the U.S. Constitution is a constitution of limited powers?
56. Who is the Governor of your state?
57. What is the capital (or capital city) of your state?
58. What are the two major political parties in the U.S. today?
59. What is the highest court in the U.S.?
60. What is the majority political party in the House of Representatives now? *
61. What is the political party of the majority in the Senate now?
62. What is the political party of the President now?
63. Who is the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?
64. Who is the Senate Majority Leader now? *
65. In what month are general presidential elections held in the United States?
66. When must all males register for the Selective Service?
67. Who is the Secretary of State now?
68. Who is the Attorney General now?
69. Is the current President in his first or second term? *
70. What is self-government?
71. Who governs the people in a self-governed country?
72. What is the “rule of law”?
73. What are “inalienable rights”?
74. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.
75. Name one responsibility that is only for United States citizens.
76. Name two rights that are only for United States citizens.
77. Name two rights of everyone living in the U.S.
78. What is the Pledge of Allegiance?
79. Name one promise you make when you say the Oath of Allegiance.
80. Who can vote in the U.S. presidential elections?
81. Name two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy.
82. When is the last day you can send in federal income tax forms?
83. Name two of the natural, or inalienable, rights in the Declaration of Independence.
84. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
85. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?
86. Name one reason why the colonists came to America?
87. What happened at the Constitutional Convention? *
88. Why did the colonists fight the British?
89. When was the Constitution drafted?
90. There are 13 original states. Name three.
91. What group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves?
92. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?
93. Where did most of America’s colonists come from before the Revolution? *
94. Why were the colonists upset with the British government?
95. Name one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for.
96. Who is called the “Father of Our Country”?
97. Who was the first President?
98. Name one of the writers of the Federalist Papers? *
99. What group of essays supported passage of the U.S. Constitution?
100. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s. *
101. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?
102. What country sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States?
103. In 1803, the United States bought a large amount of land from France. Where was that land?
104. Name one of the things that Abraham Lincoln did.
105. Name the U.S. war between the North and the South. *
106. Name one problem that led to the Civil War.
107. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
108. What did the abolitionists try to end before the Civil War?
109. What did Susan B. Anthony do?
110. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s.
111. Who was President during World War I?
112. The United States fought Japan, Germany, and Italy during which war?
113. What was the main concern of the United States during the Cold War?
114. What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States?
115. What international organization was established after World War II (WWII) to keep the world at peace?
116. What alliance of North America and European countries was created during the Cold War?
117. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II? *
118. Which U.S. World War II general later became President?
119. What did Martin Luther King, Jr. do?
120. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream for America. What was his dream?
121. What movement tried to end racial discrimination?
122. Name one of the major American Indian tribes in the United States.
123. Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States.
124. What ocean is on the west coast of the United States?
125. What country is on the northern border of the United States?
126. Where is the Grand Canyon?
127. Where is the Statue of Liberty?
128. What country is on the southern border of the United States?
129. Name one large mountain range in the United States.
130. What is the tallest mountain in the United States?
131. Name one U.S. territory.
132. Name the state that is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
133. Name one state that borders Canada. *
134. Name one state that borders on Mexico.
135. What is the capital of the U.S.?
136. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?
137. Why do we have 13 stripes on the flag? *
138. Why does the flag have 50 stars?
139. What is the name of the National Anthem?
140. On the Fourth of July we celebrate independence from what country?
141. When do we celebrate Independence Day?
142. Name two national U.S. holidays.