Congressional Discourse Getting Dumber
Most congressional observers agree that the level of discourse on Capitol Hill is coarser and more partisan than ever before. A new study suggests it’s also dumber.
Congress collectively speaks at almost a full grade-level lower than it did seven years ago, with Republican lawmakers ranking as the smartest and least-smart-sounding talkers, according to a new study by the Sunlight Foundation sure to earn the ire of at least some congressional offices.
The study rightfully notes that what some might consider “the dumbing down” of congressional speeches could be interpreted as an attempt to more simply and effectively communicate with constituents. That effort could be in part because the study says that Congress generally speaks at a higher grade level than average Americans.
Using the Flesch-Kincaid test, which equates higher grade levels with longer words and sentences and higher numbers of syllables and characters, the study concludes that lawmakers speak at a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005. Americans generally speak at between an 8th and 9th grade level.
Read more here and check out the list of the worst and best speakers. All of the worst speakers are Republicans. My theory is — snark alert ahead – they have to dumb it down so Fox viewers can kinda, sorta, maybe understand what they’re saying.
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