The current event related to class that I better understand because of our studies in class is the 2012 Presidential Election. Before our study of elections, I did not follow the elections very closely and did not really understand how the election process worked. “Elections” was our fourth unit in our study of government.
We looked at different aspects of the election process, including the Electoral College, Voter Participation, and the influence of money in elections. My favorite activity, and most relevant to the current election,was “Campaign Commercials.” We looked at different campaign commercials throughout history and compared them to current ones we see on TV today. An example of a current ad that we watched and analyzed was President Obama’s “Yes We Can” commercial from 2008.
In order to analyze the effectiveness of the commercials, we considered the following: emotional appeal, target audience, central issue, and credibility. We even had our own presidential elections in our classes. We wrote policy briefs to let the “voters” know where we stand on issues, such as energy, education, healthcare, and social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion. We used different types of media, such a social networks, websites, and commercials just like current presidential candidates. We created a campaign commercial.
We were encouraged to keep up with the election and follow who remained in and dropped out of the GOP election. We followed Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Thaddeus McCotter, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum as they dropped out of the election. We also followed candidates who remain in the GOP election, including Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul.
Through our “Elections” unit, I feel as though I much better understand the election process. Since I will be eligible to vote in this election, I feel that it is important for me to keep current with the election, so that I can make an informed decision come November.
Through our study of government, we looked at the different aspects of the United States government, including the election process, Congress, the presidency, and the Courts. The topic that I have found the most interesting is our study of Congress.
The first activity in our study of Congress was an activity called Congress in Action. We defined useful terms regarding Congress using our textbook and then put them into our own words to better understand them. We learned about the different people that make up Congress, such as Speaker of the House (the overall head of the House of Representatives – currently John Boehner), Majority Leader (the head of the majority party in the Senate – currently Eric Cantor), Minority Leader (the head of the minority party in the House and Senate), and whips (assistants to the House and Senate leaders who are responsible for gaining support for legislation). In this activity we also learned about the different ways debates can be conducted, such as a filibuster (unlimited debate in which a senator or group of senators may keep taking without being interrupted unless three-fifths of the chamber vote to end the debate), and a hold (tactic used by senators signaling to the other members of a chamber of legislation that they wish to withhold discussion of a bill because they intend to use delaying tactics to possibly give the bill a larger chance of succeeding).
The next activity in our study of Congress was an activity called Congress: Representation. We looked at the different types of congressional representation and which types tend to be most popular with voters. We specifically looked at the delegate model of representation, trustee model of representation, politico model of representation, conscience model of representation, and symbolic representation. We read an excerpt of “The Legislator as Trustee” by John F. Kennedy. In his essay, Kennedy asserts that legislators have an obligation to give priority to the nation as a whole. We also read an excerpt from “The Legislator as Delegate”, which asserts that legislators have an obligation to express the will of the people in their votes. We compared the two essays to learn how they support different models of congressional representation.
Our final activity was reading an excerpt from “Congressional Government, A Study in American Politics” by Woodrow Wilson. This allowed us to understand how complex our Congress is to understand. Our group identified Wilson’s thesis to be: “Its complicated forms and diversified structure confuse the vision, and conceal the system which underlies its composition. It is too complex to be understood without an effort, without a careful and systematic process of analysis.”
– Abby T.