Sunday, November 29, 2009

the republican loyalty test

I don't have many Republican readers--actually, I don't have that many readers at all--so I'm not sure how many have followed the new "loyalty test" (my term, not theirs) being proposed for Republican candidates. The test poses ten questions on various policy issues--taxes, abortion, the stimulus package, etc.--and evaluates the candidates' responses. Eight out of ten and you are a kosher (again my term) candidate who qualifies for funding, endorsement, etc. ; seven or less and you are toast. The test is objective in nature, i.e., consists exclusively of yes and no questions, and is accordingly self-graded. The eight of ten concept is apparently traceable to a quotation from Ronald Reagan, although some of suggested that he himself would have flunked, as would several contemporary Republican officials.

I myself took it and failed, getting only seven out of ten correct answers. As I recall, I missed out on abortion [don't like it but don't think it's the Government's problem], global warming [don't know if the world is burning up but unwilling to take the chance], and one other question I can't quite remember. Fortunately, the test is as yet merely a proposal, and it's not clear that it will make it to local committeeperson, a post no one else wants to run for, even if it is approved.

As my comments suggest, I don't think much of the test, although I'm not sure what standing the Democrats have to critique it. (You could design a similar test for liberals and nearly all of them would pass.) My criticism is based partly on a dislike of loyalty oaths and partly on an educator's suspicion of any test that is this easy to cheat on. For example, it doesn't take terribly much insight to figure out that higher taxes and more regulation are incorrect answers. Now, if they would lock the candidates in a room for three hours and have them answer multiple choice questions on passages from conservative philosophers, the answers to be graded on a scale of 200 to 800: wait, isn't that how the other party chooses its candidates?


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