American Culture

Needed: a constitutional mandate to detect lies of candidates

If we want better-qualified (and honest) presidential candidates, let’s amend Article II, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution. This section says:

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

How about adding the following clause after “United States”: “and who has not passed a lie detector examination consisting of the following questions:”

• Have you used a statistic out of context or selectively to exaggerate your record?
• Have you ever used a statistic out of context or selectively to denigrate your opponents or their positions?
• While an appointed or elected official, have you improperly accepted money from lobbyists?
• Have you extolled the number of times you cut taxes while failing to say the number of times you raised taxes?
• To make a political point, have you exaggerated a claim about you or your record?
• Have you misrepresented your service (or lack thereof) in the armed forces?
• Have you directed that an action be taken on your behalf but in such a way as to provide you with plausible deniability should it fail?
• Have you commissioned a push poll?
• Have you placed a friend or relative on the public payroll?
• Have you placed an unqualified friend or relative on the public payroll?
• Has a relative or friend placed you on the public payroll?
• Have you personally profited from a publicly funded expenditure?
• Do you have a criminal record?
• Do you have a history of substance abuse?
• Are you physically, psychologically and emotionally healthy?
• Have you cheated on your spouse?
• Have you lied to your spouse or children?
• Are your IRS tax returns for the past 20 years a true accounting of taxes owed and paid?
• Have you knowingly misrepresented yourself in a résumé or curriculum vita?
• Have you plagiarized?
• Have you been sued?
• Have you been fired?
• Have you lied to protect your public image or political position?
• Have you paid anyone to lie on your behalf?
• Would you appoint corporate executives and business leaders who have contributed to your political campaigns to public policy positions, including ambassadorships?
• Do you support more stringent reporting rules for campaign contributions?
• Do you support more stringent freedom of information, sunshine, sunset and journalist shield laws?
• Have you undertaken or ordered an illegal action to enhance a business or corporate interest in this or another nation?
• Have you legally accepted money or favors to promote a business or corporate interest in this or another nation?
• Have you illegally accepted money or favors to promote a business or corporate interest?
• Do you support “fast-track” presidential power on trade legislation?
• Do you support current treaties and pacts regarding “fair trade”?
• Should private, charitable, faith-based organizations be provided public funding?
• Do you believe in a Supreme Being?
• Will your religious beliefs take precedence in deciding matters of public interest?
• Will poll results take precedence in your decisions on matters of public interest?
• Do you believe the president can commit American troops to combat on foreign soil without the consent of Congress?
• Do you believe control of primary and secondary education curricula should rest with local governing school boards, including standards for evaluation and assessment?
• Do you believe that any mandate imposed by the federal government or Congress on state or local governments should be fully funded by the federal government?
• Do you support radical overhaul of the American system of regressive taxation?
• Do you believe the needs of people should always take precedence over considerations of environmental impacts?
• Do you believe human progress should always be measured with concepts stressing growth?
• Do you believe all human beings — regardless of race, creed, sexual preference or gender — are equal?
• Do you believe the First Amendment should be altered?
• Do you believe the Second Amendment should be altered?
• Do you believe the Fourth Amendment should be altered?

No doubt other questions could and should be added to this list. This is just a beginning.

But while we’re at it, let’s amend Article I, Sections 2 and 3, to put the same questions to those who would represent us in Congress, too.

15 replies »

  1. This test should *ALREADY* be performed by interviewers on Television and newspapers. The real problem is that mainstream media has been ignoring its responsibilities to properly vet candidates for Congress and the President.

  2. I was a journalist for 20 years, and I’ve taught journalism for 15 years. Sadly, what you say is true. Hence my call that we, the public, do it ourselves. Thanks for your comment.

  3. If you insist on asking these kinds of questions, not only will you not have access to the candidates, you’ll be lucky if they let you in the same state with one.

  4. A great idea, however you will have to make the list MUCH shorter if you plan on using a polygraph. It’s not at all like in the movies and hasn’t been for about thirty years. My understanding is that you have to limit your questions to about five, because after that the subject naturally gets keyed up to the point that every answer looks suspect. Also you will have to let the candidate agree with the wording of the questions first, so that they understand what is being asked when they hear them, and there are no surprises, which can also skew the results.

  5. How about random drug testing the Executive Branch, Congress and High Court? Stock clerks at grocery stores have their 4th amendment rights taken from them with random drug test, why not the guy that has his finger on the biggest nuclear arsinal in the history of the planet? This is the biggest double standand in the US. How dare Congress ask baseball players to come and talk about steroid use, under oath, when they themselves don’t have to submit to random testing. How much more important are their jobs compared to guy playing baseball. Wouldn’t it be interesting to drop a surprise random drug test on our government officials.

  6. Existing amendments can’t be altered.
    Sure they can. It’s happened. Amendments can be added, changed, or deleted as desired, so long as the process of amending the Constitution is followed.

  7. So long as some of the answers aren’t automatic disqualifications. For example, I do believe that the Second Amendment should be changed to make it completely and utterly clear about the role of the militia and what is, and is not, allowed to be owned by private individuals. But I don’t think that this particular litmus test question should disqualify me, or anyone else, from holding elected office

    There are a lot of questions you’re asking that force a candidate to take a position, and those are great. But they’re not in the same category as detecting outright deception.

  8. More questions? 97% of them can’t pass a Constitution Test today, which is something I contend needs to be a requirement before taking office. A lot of them pretend to be “businessmen” (and failed businessmen at that no less) but mostly they’re corporate sock puppets.

  9. Get YOUR facts straight! Amendment 12 was never altered, it was simply amended (by Amendment 20). If Amendment 12 could have been altered, there’d have been no need for Amendment 20, etc. Sheesh!

  10. And an amendment isn’t an alteration how, exactly?

    You’re being unnecessarily anal, because while you’re linguistically correct, the fact that parts of prior Amendments and Articles have been superseded means that they no longer are in effect while the rest off the Amendment and Article remains in effect. Linguistically, supersede doesn’t equal altered, but functionally, there’s no difference whatsoever.