WELCOME TO ELECTION CONNECTION – #1!
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INCORPORATING ELECTION ISSUES INTO THE CLASSROOM
Several of you stopped by the Election Connection table at the Faculty Fair and asked for introductory references about the two major political parties. The website “Diffen” offers an easy-to-use format with brief and unbiased comparison of the two parties: Democratic Party v. Republic Party. The website also offers other comparisons, including Liberal v. Conservative and vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden v. Paul Ryan.
Separately, the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, takes a Closer Look at Political Parties in 2012. In addition to providing empirical data about trends in party identification in the article, the Pew Research Center also has a Political Party Quiz – 12 questions that will tell you how you fit on the political spectrum. In my classes, I’m offering the quiz as an opportunity for students to earn extra credit; they take the quiz and write a short summary about what they learned from the results and whether the outcome surprised them.
Another website is iSideWith.com, which offers a presidential candidate quiz to see which candidate you side with. The site is not affiliated with any political party, candidate, or interest group, and was started by two friends with very different views of politics with the aim of educating voters and boosting voter turnout this election season.
In discussing election-related news, an option might be to share current events at the National Party Conventions: The 2012 Republican National Convention was held in Tampa Bay, FL from August 27-30th and the 2012 Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte, NC from September 4-6th. You could discuss the media campaign, communications, or even geography and demographics by looking at why the two parties chose the locations for their respective conventions.
“National conventions combine three important functions: nomination of candidates for the office of President and Vice President; formulation and adoption of a statement of party principles—the platform; and adoption of rules and procedures governing party activities, particularly the nomination process for presidential candidates in the next election cycle.” (Source: “Presidential Elections in the United States: A Primer,” prepared in April 2000 by the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service).
As part of Constitution Week from September 17-21, MCTC Student Life will be hosting several events! One key event is an “Introduction to Voting” workshop that will be presented by the Voter Outreach Coordinator of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday, September 18 at 2:30pm in H.2900. Please spread the word to your students (and maybe even offer some extra credit for participation)!
National Voter Registration Day is Tuesday, September 25 and we will have a Voter Registration Table set-up in the T-Skyway from 9:00am-2:00pm. Encourage your students to stop by and pick up a voter registration form or Minnesota Guide to Voting!
JUST A THOUGHT…
Many people take positions on political issues without doing their homework. They’re easily swayed by friends, family members, what’s on TV or the prevailing public opinion. With a little research, any person can be an “educated” voter!
“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” –Alexander Hamilton
Faculty, Political Science
Minneapolis Community & Technical College