Monday, August 25, 2008

Going to "Electoral" College

Many students throughout the US will be heading off to college during the next few days and weeks. The future of America rests in their hands, or so we like to think.

But how many of us know that we, too, are heading off to college? Huh? Yes, everyone who votes in the November election will be going to college.

How many voters in the country are aware they we do not directly elect our president? Chances are that even our current president may not be aware of this fact. Our system of electing the next president is an outgrowth of the Virginia Plan. It is known as the "Electoral College." Basically the idea was to incorporate both the popular election and the legislature into one system. Thus in each state the voters actually elect delegates from one party or the other who pledge to cast their votes for the winner of the general election in their state. Pledge but are not obligated to do so. The number of votes for each state is the total of Senators and Representatives from that state. The total number is 538. You need a majority to become president, hence 270. Originally the idea was to prevent election fraud and the fear that the voting population would not be informed enough to vote properly. Thus this somewhat cumbersome and antiquated and misunderstood system. But in all fairness to the Founding Fathers, they were not far off the mark when they worried about an uninformed electorate. Just ask an American to name the first five presidents, or even the last five.

So, my thinking here is that rather than deal with this 200+ year old method, we stand McCain and Obama up (in McCain's case prop him up) before the American people and ask them a couple of questions. The one who gets the most right answers is our next president.

So, fellas, here we go:

1) Who is considered the "father" of both the Virginia Plan and the Constitution?
Hint: His wife's name was Dolly, he was our shortest president, and probably weighed less than 100 pounds soaking wet.
2) Who was the first president born in the United States?
Hint: It's probably not who you think it is.
3) Name the presidents who were assassinated while in office.
Hint: There were four of them.
4) There is one mention of religion in the US Constitution.
Hint: Fill in the blank...
______religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States
5) Which president was the author of the Monroe Doctrine?
Hint: It wasn't Marilyn.
6) Who was the first Secretary of State of the United States?
Hint: He was also the second Vice President
7) Who was the second Vice President?
Hint: He was also the first Secretary of State
8) Which amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure?
9) Which amendment guarantees every American citizen "due process?"
10) Which two presidents died on the same day, July 4, 1826?
Hint: The day is exactly 50 years to the day after the signing of the famous document that one of them wrote, the other stepping aside so the former could do so.
11) What number president was Benjamin Franklin?
Hint: It's less than ten
12) Which president is buried in Grant's Tomb?
Hint: He became president after Johnson
13) What famous cemetery was once a plantation belonging to a president?
Hint: He was NOT president of all the states
14) Finish this famous quote. "I know not what course others may take; but as for me..."
Hint: He was the real "Patriot Act"
15) True or false: there is a Constitutional provision for a personal income tax.
16) Abraham Lincoln wrote in the Gettysburg Address, "Four score..." What is a score in years?
17) Who was the youngest man to become president?
18) Name the president's represented on Mount Rushmore.
19) Who was the only man to be President, Secretary of War, and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court?
20) Do you still beat your wife?

Sorry, fellas, no sports trivia or questions about how many houses you own.

That's my idea, and I'm sticking with it.