Jay Leno, former host of the “Tonight Show”, was known for his street interviews where he would ask people basic questions on U.S. History and the Constitution. Most of those he asked failed miserably. While it made for entertaining television, Leno never addressed the reason why most Americans have no knowledge of basic questions like who we fought in World War II or who is the current Vice-President of the United States nor did he offer any solutions. Camp Constitution participates in Constitutional outreach events where we offer folks a 10-question quiz on the U.S. Constitution and offer all- takers a free pocket copy. Our goal is not to make people feel stupid; our goal is to help Americans become Constitutionally literate.
In the Summer of 2018, I was in Lynchburg, VA where I encountered Jennifer Lewis, Democrat candidate for Congress. I asked Ms. Lewis where one would find the job description for a member of Congress. She gave me that “Deer in the Headlight” look so I rephrased the question: “Where would one find out about the duties, and powers of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.” Her reply in an unsure tone of voice “Online?” I told her that you can indeed find the info online, but the source is Article One of the U.S. Constitution. I then handed her a pocket copy of the Constitution and suggested that she learn it. Thankfully, she lost her election. It is not just Democrats who are ignorant about the U.S. Constitution; most Republicans seem to have little knowledge of it as well. A few years ago, at a county fair in New Hampshire, I asked former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown to take the quiz. He had an allergic reaction to the quiz and refused to take it. His voting record as a U.S. Senator clearly demonstrated that he did not know the Constitution, or he willfully ignored his oath of office. I am happy to report, however, that the 2019 Miss Maine, Carolyn Brady stopped by our info table at the Crown of Maine Balloon Festival in Presque Isle, and received a 90% on our quiz. She would have got a perfect score, but she changed an answer.
Let me challenge the readers to the questions in the quiz. (Answers below)
1, Which amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms?
2, What is the age requirement for the U.S. Senate?
3, Which amendment reads “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”? (It is not a trick question if you know the Constitution.)
4, Lawmaking abilities are vested in which branch of government?
5, How many amendments does the Constitution have?
6, Which branch of government has the power to regulate education?
7, Where in the Constitution is foreign aid mentioned?
8, How many senators are needed to ratify a treaty?
9, Which branch of Congress initiated the impeachment process?
10, Which branch of government declares war?
Our information tables where we offer this quiz can be found at the regional homeschool conventions, fairs, gun shows, and public venues like Boston Common. The average grade of our quiz is 30%. After seeing it, many people refuse to take it. Homeschoolers tend to score higher than most. Gun show attendees get the first question correct but go downhill after that. Bostonians do abysmal but tourists visiting Boston and foreigners usually score above average.
Since our inception in 2009, we have distributed over 20,000 copies of the Constitution. We have conducted numerous “Know Your Constitution” presentations around the region. If your organization or school would like to host one of speakers, please contact me. We are offering a free pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence to the first 100 readers. E-mail me with your mailing address firstname.lastname@example.org.
1, The Second Amendment. The U.S. Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms. Rights do not come from government. Our founders made it clear that rights came from God.
2, 30 years old
3, This is not in the U.S. Constitution. It is a plank in the “Communist Manifesto.”
6, None. The U.S. Constitution does not grant any power to the Federal government to regulate education,
7, Foreign aid is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution which makes it unconstitutional.
8, 2/3rds of those present. A quorum of 51 is needed to do business.
9, The House of Representatives. The House has no power to impeach private citizens which includes former presidents even those they hate.
10, Congress. The last time that United States declared war was in December of 1941. 1n 1945, Congress passed the U.N. Participation Act unconstitutionally giving the United Nations the power to send our troops in so-called police actions. A link to a PDF version of the quiz: http://campconstitution.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Camp-Constitution-U-S-Constitution-Quiz.pdf
Hal Shurtleff is co-founder and director of Camp Constitution. Hal is an Army veteran who spend a tour with the 101st Airborne, and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He hosts a weekly radio show which airs on WBCQ in Montecello, Maine. He is married with five children, and one grandchild. A life-long Boston, MA resident, he and his family recently relocated to Alton, NH.