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Should Politicians Be Required to Pass a Test before Taking Office?

by James Ryan, published

If a lawyer wants to practice law in a state, he or she must first pass the state's bar exam. If a teacher wants to work in a school, they are tested to be credentialed. Before entering the police force, applicants go through a rigorous training and screening process. Before becoming a doctor, medical school graduates must pass a licensing exam.

And yet, aside from needing a proper image and campaigning, there is not a formal test for those seeking public office. Perhaps there should be, considering recent events in several state legislatures:

Idaho state Rep. Vito Barbieri, during a hearing regarding HB154 -- a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through 'telemedicine' -- asked whether a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam. Dr. Julie Madsen, who was testifying in opposition to the bill, replied that it would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

It is pertinent to note that Barbieri sits on the board of a crisis pregnancy center in northern Idaho.

In neighboring Nevada, state Assemblymember Michele Fiore, speaking in favor of easing health care rules, advocated for an interesting medical procedure:

"If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus," said Fiore, "we can put a pic line into your body and we're flushing with, say, salt water, sodium cardonate [presumably she meant bicarbonate] through that line and flushing out the fungus. These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective."

Perhaps one of the reasons why the FDA has not approved the proposed treatment is because the premise that cancer is a fungus is a debunked theory that defies basic facts of oncology and microbiology.

Of course, it is unreasonable to expect every lawmaker to know everything about every subject. That said, these are the people who vote on legislation that greatly impacts their constituents. If public officials are to truly and faithfully discharge the duties of their office, does it not make sense to require some knowledge of the subjects new laws are about? Is it unreasonable to have a test for politicians?

Photo Credit: Constantine Pankin /

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