Saturday, December 11, 2010

Exam Review Topics

Review the following information in preparation for your exam. Use your textbook and class notes.

  • James Madison
    • Views on factions
    • Views on government
  • Political Parties
    • Political Spectrum
    • Differences between Republicans and Democrats
  • Midterm elections
    • Process
    • Debates
    • Local results
    • Important races
  • Two-Party System
    • Reasons for and against
    • 3rd parties and their potential for success
  • Interest Groups
    • Types of lobby and membership
    • Positives and negatives
    • Potential for bias
    • Tactics/techniques
  • President
    • Creation of position
    • Constitutional basis
    • Powers (formal and inherent)
    • Expansion of powers
    • Leadership
    • Compared to other types of leader (Prime Minister)
    • Clinton, Bush and Obama
    • Changing size of U.S. government over time
    • Public opinion of the president
The following are possible essay topics:
  • Interest Groups
  • Political Parties
  • Clinton, Bush and Obama

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday, 12/8/2010 Homework Questions

Use pp. 377-379 in your book to answer the following on loose leaf:
  1. When does a president's success in Congress typically begin to decline?
  2. What reasons could be behind this?
  3. What did Jimmy Carter (photo, to the right) have to say about interest groups? What did he mean?
  4. How do interest groups affect a president's decision-making process?
  5. Why might a candidate/president be "intentionally vague" about some issues? How might overuse of this tactic affect public opinion?
  6. What is a "mandate"? Why would a newly elected candidate want to claim one?
  7. What typically allows a candidate to claim that he has a mandate?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday, 12/7/2010 Homework

For homework today, read the section titled "The Political Context" on pp. 377-378. Then, answer the following on loose leaf:
  1. What are partisans?
  2. What is a "Divided Government"?
  3. What is "gridlock"? How might it affect a government's ability to function?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday, 12/6/10 Homework

Re-read pp. 362-365 (stop at the point where it says “Congressional Delegation of Power”.
On a piece of loose leaf paper, outline the ways in which presidential power expanded during the Bush presidency. Argue whether this is a positive or negative thing for Americans.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday, 12/1/10 Homework

Answer the following questions on loose leaf paper using pp. 366-368 in your textbook.
  1. What is the role of the President's Chief of Staff?
  2. Why do presidents need a national security adviser?
  3. What three major roles does the White House staff serve?
  4. 1 pt. EC: Which recent White House Chief of Staff wants to be mayor of Chicago?
Turn the assignment in to the bin at the start of tomorrow's class. It is worth a total of 5 points, with a maximum possible score of 6/5 if you get the EC question correct.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Issues faced by Bill Clinton during Presidency:
Large Federal Deficit
Growing gap between rich and poor
Eligibility of homosexuals to serve in the military
Trade imbalances between North American countries
Health Care Reform (Push for Universal Health Care)
Illegal Immigration
Domestic and Foreign Terrorism (and emergence of al-Qaeda, attempt to capture bin Laden in 1996)
Oklahoma City Bombing
Terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda on American embassies in East Africa
Threats to U.S. in Iraq, Somalia and Eastern Europe
Conflict over land between Israelis and Palestinians
And the activity:
Your book lists the many powers given to the president by the Constitution, as well as examples of inherent powers which can be inferred to belong to the president.
Choose 5 of the 9 major issues faced by Bill Clinton during his presidency.
For each of the issues you choose, select a presidential power. Then, explain how Clinton could attempt to use that power to address your chosen issue.
Each issue should take about 3 sentences to address
2 pts. each, 10 pts. total.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The President -- A Sketchy Commander-in-Chief?

After reading the article "Wanted: One Chief Executive, No Experience Required," answer the following on a sheet of loose leaf paper. Your response should take about one paragraph.

What evidence does the article give to support the argument that the office of the president was created "intentionally sketchy"? Why do you think the founders were not more specific in their requirements for the position of Commander-in-Chief?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Test Review Questions

As promised, here are the test review questions. You must complete the first 7 questions -- these should have been completed in class today. You must choose 5 questions from the rest to answer on the same sheet of loose leaf paper. If you need more than one sheet of paper, make sure you staple them together. You will have 12 questions total on your homework page. Number each question as I have it numbered (i.e., if you choose to do number 11, label it "11"). The review questions are a 15 point homework grade. I will collect them right before you take your test.
  1. What type of lobbying did Rosa Parks practice in 1955? How can you tell?
  2. How did the 26-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., make her short-term efforts work over a longer period of time?
  3. What type of lobbying is King practicing in the photo on page 502? How can you tell?
  4.  What is the purpose of a political party in the United States?
  5.  Describe the main philosophical difference between Republicans and Democrats?
  6. What does it tell you about a political candidate if you hear she falls further to the “right” on the political spectrum? To the “left”?
  7. What is a “third party”? What purpose do third parties serve in the U.S.? Do they have any realistic chance of winning a major election as things currently stand?
  8. Where would the Libertarian Party fall on the political spectrum? Why? Where would the Green Party fall? Why?
  9. What is a party platform?
  10. Who are Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias? Why was it important for us to learn about each of them?
  11. What is the Tea “Party”? Why do I put quotation marks around the word “Party”?
  12. What is the purpose of the “Rock the Vote” movement? Who is its target audience?
  13. What issues appeal most to young American voters?
  14. Describe the differences between the following campaign strategies:
    1. A party-centered strategy
    2. An issue-centered strategy
    3. A candidate-oriented strategy
  15. Describe the purpose of a political debate.
  16. Compare the theoretical application of a political debate with the real thing.
  17. What are some of the major issues facing the new Republican House of Representatives?
  18. Define the following:
    1. Interest Group/Lobby
    2. Lobbyist
    3. Political Action Committee
    4. Free-rider
    5. Rank-and-file members
  19. Summarize the purpose of interest groups in the United States.
  20. Examine p. 78. Apply James Madison’s view of democracy to the current system of interest groups in the United States.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

ETJ On the Case: The Grassroots Campaign


An interest group has engaged your law firm, Equality, Truth and Justice, LLP, to raise support for its cause. On Tuesday, you researched the interest group. You discovered many facts, such as the group's mission and the politicians it endorses.

Now comes the hard part. You must create an effective, informative grassroots campaign that both rallies your lobby's rank-and-file members and informs the general populace. You will not make use of direct lobbying in this campaign, simply because ETJ's contacts in the House and the Senate have all just been voted out of office (they were all democrats). Oh well.

You will need to use the following resources to create your grassroots campaign:
The following is a list of techniques you might use to organize your lobby's base:
  • hosting house meetings or parties
  • having larger meetings
  • putting up posters
  • talking with pedestrians on the street (often involving informational clipboards)
  • gathering signatures for petitions
  • mobilizing letter-writing, phone-calling, and emailing campaigns
  • setting up information tables in high-traffic areas
  • raising money from many small donors for political advertising or campaigns
  • organizing large demonstrations
  • asking individuals to submit opinions to media outlets and government officials
  • holding get out the vote activities, which include the practices of reminding people to vote and transporting them to polling places.
  • using online social networks to organize virtual communities
Part 1: The Grassroots. Follow the following steps to create an effective grassroots campaign. Complete this in one e-mail to me (with each partner's name included). It is due at the end of the period, and is worth 35 points.
  1. Identify the key issue(s) ETJ will focus on in your campaign. Explain why you think these are the ones the lobby must communicate to the public. (3 points issue, 7 points explanation, 10 points total)
  2. Create a plan to coordinate the lobby's rank-and-file members to best utilize their abilities. This should tell the average person exactly what he/she needs to do in order to help your interest group. Your plan should include a minimum of 5 bullet points. (1 point each bullet, 5 points total)
  3. Create a plan to distribute information about your lobby to the general public. (10 points)
    1. Think about the ways in which YOU get information in real life (i.e., not in the classroom).
    2. Ask your self questions like:
      1. "Would I actually research my lobby's cause without an assignment?"
      2. "How lazy are people, really?"
      3. "How can I distribute my lobby's information over the widest base possible?"
  4. Can you get celebrities, politicians or well-known corporations involved? How? When you get them involved, how can you best put their talents to use. Answer this question using the name of a celebrity you will work with. (5 points)
  5. How can you ensure that the short-term gains made by your grassroots movement can be made relevant in the long-term policy-making process? How can you make this matter for a long time, not just in the immediate future? (5 points)
Part 2: Informing the General Population. How will you inform the general population of your lobby's goals? How will you encourage free-riders to get involved? Create a visual that appeals to a broad base. This could be:
  • Two bumper stickers that tell people what they should vote for, what your group wants to accomplish, etc.
  • A (fake) social networking page that enables rank-and-file members and free-riders to get involved. Think Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Flyers you can hang up to inform and encourage
  • An informative handout and a petition your rank-and-file can use to influence people on the street
Be creative, but also realistic. If your visual does not appeal to you, it will not appeal to the masses. Your visual should include:
  • The name of your lobby
  • Your lobby's purpose
  • What you want people to do -- Protest? Vote? Not Drink and Drive? Etc.?
  • Information for how people can find out more or get involved (a website, address, phone number, etc.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lobbying for Civil Rights

Congratulations! You and your partner from class have been hired by the prestigious Civil Rights law firm of Equality, Truth and Justice, LLP. ETJ is most famous for its success in lobbying in every type of campaign, be it direct, grassroots or informative.

ETJ focuses on civil rights issues. The firm has hired you to work on a grassroots campaign for one of the interest groups it represents. These groups fall under many headings, and include the following:
  • Civil and Constitutional Rights
    • The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
    • The Rainbow PUSH Coalition
    • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
    • The National Urban League
    • Amnesty International
  • Public Interest/Single Cause
    • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
    • Common Cause
    • The National Rifle Association (NRA)
    • Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD)
    • The National Rights to Life Committee
  • Political/Ideological
    • Americans for Democratic Action
    • The League of Conservative Voters
    • The American Conservative Union
  • Feminist
    • The National Organization of Women (NOW)
ETJ has given you and your partner the freedom to choose which lobby you will work for. Use Google or a similar search engine to locate the websites for the organizations above that you think you will be interested in. HINT: if you don't know what an organization stands for, look it up!

Browse through the organizations and choose one which interests you. You will use this organization for a mini-project we will work on in class today and Thursday.

Answer the following questions in an e-mail to me. You will primarily use your chosen interest group, although you may also use the Google search to find additional information as long as you give the link and clear the site with me. The e-mail is a 20 point homework grade, and is due at the end of class.
  1. Name your chosen group. Explain what attracted you to this lobby. (2 points)
  2. Summarize your chosen lobby's mission. Specifically state what they intend to accomplish and explain why. (2 points)
  3. Are there any influential or famous people behind your lobby? If so, name and describe them, then summarize their involvement with your lobby. (2 points)
  4. What issues does your lobby focus on? How do they relate to its mission? (4 points)
  5. Has your lobby been in the news lately? If yes, summarize the circumstances. Then, evaluate whether this will make people view your lobby in a more positive or negative light. Your page may give some of this information, but remember -- it will only give you POSITIVE information about your lobby. Use the Google news search ( or one of the papers we've used (NY Times, Chicago Tribune, etc.) to find news that might not be 100% positive. (4 points)
  6. OPTION 1: Does your lobby offer any tips for how you could potentially influence people and politicians? If so, list and describe the tactics it advises you to use. Explain the practical application of your lobby's tactics. (2 points)
    OPTION 2: If your lobby does not show actual tactics, then describe the tools used on the lobby website to influence your opinion. How is the lobby attempting to appeal to you? Does it work? Explain. Could you use any of the tools from your pamphlet to assist your new lobby?(2 points)
  7. Discover the lobby's attempts to influence people from Chicago and Illinois. Describe the activities/events/etc. it sponsors locally. You may use the lobby's site for this information, but may need to use the news search. (2 points)
  8. Which candidate(s) did your lobby support in the Illinois midterm elections? Why? (NOTE: if you can't find any support for Illinois politicians, you may choose to focus on well-known politicians we've discussed in class) (2 points)
FOR HOMEWORK, read pp. 493-497 on Equality and Civil Rights. Take Cornell Notes. These are due on your desk at the start of tomorrow's class.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to be a Lobbyist -- Tri-fold Pamphlet Instructions

The Lobbyist’s Handbook
  1. You will work with a partner to create a tri-fold pamphlet to help new lobbyists successfully do their jobs
  2. You will use the information on pp. 313-318 to create your pamphlet.
  3. You will need to choose a cause that is important to you and follow the instructions on the next slide
  4. HINT: Try not to get your potential lobbyists arrested
Tri-Fold Pamphlet Requirements (40 pts)
  1. A cover image and title. Something like: “How To Be A ____________ Lobbyist”. Put your names on this page (“By: Student A and Student B) (5 pts.)
  2. An intro fold which explains your interest group’s goal to the prospective lobbyist. (5 pts.)
  3. Each “center” fold should include:
    1. an explanation of how to successfully use a lobbying strategy to promote your cause.  (3 pts. per fold)
    2. A focus on one strategy (DIRECT, GRASSROOTS, AND INFORMATION).  (1 pt. per fold)
    3. Steps to follow and/or simply pieces of advice. Each fold should be full of information. (4 pts. per fold)
    4. At least 2 references to text per fold. (2 pts. per fold)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, 11/9/10 Homework

Read the Economist article about the Republican victory in the midterms, then answer the following questions on loose leaf:
  1. Why did voters remove Republicans from power in the 2006 midterms and the 2008 presidential election?
  2. What does the article indicate is behind the current changeover in power?
  3. What difficulties will Obama face in attempting to legislate in the next 2 years?
  4. How does the article suggest that Obama regain popularity?
  5. What problems does the new Republican House face?
  6. What problems might the GOP face with its own mission?
  7. Does anyone have a plan to manage the challenges currently facing our country, according to the author?
  8. Why would it be best for Republicans to avoid impeaching Obama, according to the author?
10 point homework grade.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

11/3/2010 Homework

Tonight's homework, once again, has to do with the fallout from this year's midterm elections. When class began today, we did not know who our governor would be in 2011. Incumbent Pat Quinn holds a narrow lead over his opponent, Bill Brady.

Tonight, watch the coverage of the election or read about it in the paper. Record the results of the election as they stand tonight. Summarize the reasons for the results given by commentators. If there's a winner, make sure you include his name.

1 paragraph (3-5 sentences)
5 points, due in the bin at the start of class

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

General Election Night Post

Hello class,

Add a comment about tonight's election coverage for a point of extra credit. May the best candidate win!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Politics in the News

Hello students,

If you finish your project work today, you can turn take a look at the following links:
  1. Rumor: Clinton Asks Florida Democrat to Quit Race
  2. NY Times Midterms Page
  3. The Tea Party's Idea of the Constitution
  4. Potential Replacements for Harry Reid (as Senate Majority Leader)
  5. Potential Negative Impact of Tea Party on GOP
  6. Republican Leaders Accept Tea Party
You might be able to use some of these for your project. If you are done, you may read one of the articles and post a comment to this post for two points extra credit. State the article's main point and state your views on the topic.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Giannoulias v. Kirk -- 10/20/10 Debate

Hello political experts,

The debate between Illinois senate candidates Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk can be found here. Watch the video and add a comment to this post for 2 points extra credit.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sample Questions for Moderators

The questions below are from a debate in Davenport, a city in Ontario Canada. Although the subject matter is not appropriate for your debates, the format of the questions themselves will be useful to you. Notice the level of detail. These questions are designed to force candidates to respond to them with more than a "yes" or "no." Your questions should be equally detailed.




1.       General Poverty: 

What do you think living in poverty means in Davenport?  What do you see as the main factors that contribute to poverty?

2.       Employment: Good Jobs and Minimum Wage:

There have been massive job losses in manufacturing in this province and the bulk of jobs that are created are low-paying service industry jobs with little job security or benefits that keep people in poverty. 

In recent months, MPPs voted themselves a 25% pay increase.  This increase is more than a full-time worker earning minimum wage makes in an entire year.  Minimum wage has fallen so low in Ontario, that a job is no longer a ticket out of poverty.  Almost 25% of workers in Ontario are paid less than $10 an hour leaving many workers at least $6,000 below the poverty line. The current government plans to wait until 2010 to raise the minimum wage to $10.  If elected will you fight to immediately raise the minimum wage to $10 and index it to inflation?  What is your vision for creating good jobs in this community?

3.       Affordable Housing:

There is clearly a housing crisis in this city. The definition of affordable housing means spending less than 30% of your income on shelter.  By this definition, over 100,000 households in Toronto cannot afford rent of more than $500!  The average cost of a bachelor apartment in Toronto is more than $700.  The high cost of rent means families are living in cramped quarters, in unhealthy and unsafe spaces, and have nothing left over for food or other necessities.   There are 70,000 people on the waiting list for social housing in this city.  What will you do to address the housing crisis in this city and in this community? 

4.       Social Assistance: Income Security, Food Access, and the Rationale for Setting the Rates


Quite simply, people on social assistance can't afford to pay the rent and eat. In real terms, people on social assistance have lost 40% of their income since 1996.  Not surprisingly, food bank use has increased by 80% in Toronto over this same period.   

What is the rational for the way current social assistance rates are set?  For example, how do you expect a single person to rent an apartment in this city for $342?  The Medical Officer of Health for Toronto thinks poverty among social assistance recipients is such a critical health issue in this city that he has called on the government to immediately add a Nutrition Allowance to social assistance programs based on the cost of eating healthy food.  Minimally, such an allowance would require the government to restore social assistance rates to pre-1996 levels.  What is your commitment to people on social assistance in this community? What will you do to ensure that social assistance rates reflect the actual cost of living in this city in 2007?


5.       Affordable Childcare:

The lack of affordable childcare spaces in Toronto is a barrier for many families.  Low-income parents – particularly single parents – are often forced to choose social assistance over paid work so that they can care for their children.  What will you do to ensure that every child in Ontario is guaranteed an early learning and care program?

6.       Poverty Reduction Strategy:

Clearly, there is a great deal of work that needs to be done to address the serious issue of poverty in this province and in this community.  Nothing short of a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy will sufficiently solve this problem.  Will your government launch the poverty reduction strategy being called for by a broad coalition of community groups, including The Stop Community Food Centre that sets goals and timelines to eliminate poverty beginning with a commitment to reduce poverty in Ontario by 25% in 5 years time?

7.       Funding for Toronto:

Downloading of provincial services has been disastrous to the City of Toronto.  Low-income families have taken the brunt of these cuts.  It is poor people who suffer the most when libraries and community centres are closed, when TTC routes are cut and fares increased, when user fees put Parks and Recreation programs out of reach for children. 

There is now word that ODSP recipients will lose the $100 city-funded transportation benefit they receive to get to their volunteer jobs.  This is vital income for people with disabilities that allow them the chance to participate in the community. Will you commit to restoring funding to pay for Toronto’s vital services and fight for people with disabilities to keep their volunteer benefit?

8.       The Ontario Child Benefit:

At its full implementation, the new Ontario Child Benefit does not replace the full amount of money lost through the claw back of the National Child Benefit Supplement to children whose parent rely on social assistance for support.  Why does this province continue to take away these needed resources from the very poorest children that the National Child Tax Benefit was designed to help?  If elected will you fully and immediately end this unfair practice and will your party commit to speeding up the implementation of the Ontario Child Benefit?