Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of the Congressional Record using Capitol Words.
The Constitution is written at 17.8 grade level. The Declaration of INdependence is at 15.1. Even the Gettysburg Address is at 11.2.
Congress now speaks at a 10.6 grade level.
In 2005, Republicans were the most eloquent speakers in Congress, as they had been for years. Their speeches were greater than the 11.6 grade level, better than the Democrats.
Within 4 years there was a tremendous drop in the GOP speech patterns. They had dropped to below 10.6 levels.
The Democrats stayed close to their normal patterns, not dropping below 11 until 2011.
The Republicans went from the highest grade levels in Congress to the lowest in just 4 years. Of the 20 lowest by grade level, 18 are Republicans.
Of course, what does the data actually mean? In the US, the average American reads at between an 8th and 9th grade level.
So are the legislators dumbing down their words because they are dumber or are they trying to be better communicators?
I imagine only history will be able to separate out those two possibilities. I go for better communication because many are now having their words heard directly rather than filtered through the media and dumbed down there.