The purpose of the project is to provide students an opportunity to discuss a key political science concept and to show a basic understanding of academic research and reporting skills. The project consists of producing an essay of at least 750 words on one of the provided topics (see below), as well as a works cited page with at least three sources containing information used in the essay (note: there must be a parenthetical citation at the end of each sentence that contains information from a source). The assignment is to be formatted according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Students should research this style in order to properly format the assignment (see the Purdue Online Writing Lab).
It is important to think critically about your chosen topic and clearly express your thoughts about it in writing. Where appropriate, make sure to include specific evidence and/or examples (along with appropriate citations). When writing your analysis, consider the eight standards for critical thinking (Paul and Elder, 2013): clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, and fairness. Ask yourself questions, such as
- How can I validate the accuracy of my statement?
- How is this information relevant?
- How does my conclusion address the complexities of the issue?
- What is another interpretation or viewpoint of the issue?
- Does my conclusion follow from the data and/or statements I have provided?
Students should use 12 point as the paper’s font size, double space the text, and create one inch margins on all four sides of the page. In addition, the writing assignment does not need to have a separate title page.
All writing assignment submissions will be processed through the SafeAssign program. Do not cut and paste from online sources or use information word for word from the textbook. The assignment needs to be your own work and if it is not, the submission will receive a failing grade or a zero. Students may not submit a writing assignment for this class that has been previously submitted for another course.
Please choose ONE of the following topics for your writing assignment:
- The U.S. Constitution creates a federal system of government whereby powers are distributed between a national government and fifty state governments. There are times when the federal government and state governments clash over state laws that may violate federal law or federal mandates. What methods does the federal government use to get states to comply with federal mandates? What are the ways that states can resist federal mandates? Find an example of a policy conflict (such as marijuana legalization, the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, civil rights, immigration, same-sex marriage, etc.) between a state (or states) and the federal government. What were the arguments made by the federal government and states about the issue? How were their differences resolved (if it is an issue that hasn’t been resolved, what steps have been taken by each side to advance their position)?
- Two of the last three presidents have been elected to office without winning the popular vote. There have been subsequent discussions about eliminating the Electoral College. What is the Electoral College and why was it originally created? What are the arguments for keeping the Electoral College? What are the arguments for using the popular vote instead of the Electoral College to elect presidents? Does it impact a president’s legitimacy when they are not elected by a majority of the population?
- The founders wanted the courts to be protected from politics. In what ways was the judiciary designed to limit the role of politics? Are the courts completely immune from politics? What role does politics play in Supreme Court confirmation proceedings? Should there be term limits for federal judges, including Supreme Court justices? Why or why not?
- Legislation has been introduced in recent years to enact lobbying bans of varying lengths on former members of Congress. What are the current lobbying restrictions on former members of Congress? What are the arguments for and against preventing former members of the House and Senate from lobbying Congress? Should former members of the House and Senate be banned permanently from lobbying Congress? If not, should there be a short-term ban or no ban at all? Note: Including at least one specific proposal (bill) in your discussion will help strengthen your essay.)
- According to Figure 8.2 in AmGov: Long Story Short, the United States ranks 26th in voter turnout when compared to other developed democracies. According to your textbook, what are some of the causes of low voter turnout in the United States? Do you think it is important to have high voter turnout? Discuss at least two ways to increase voter turnout. You should discuss specific proposals that are either being used in some states (or other countries) or have been proposed by outside election observers seeking to increase turnout in the United States. Would these proposals actually increase turnout around the U.S. or would people resist the proposals you have discussed? Why or why not?
- There are some groups that remain restricted from voting in some or all parts of the U.S. (for example, legal aliens and people under 18). One group that has been in the news lately is ex-felons. Voting restrictions on ex-felons vary from state to state. What are some of the different voting restrictions placed on ex-felons by states? In the past few years, there has been a push in some states to restore voting rights to ex-felons. What are the arguments for and against restoring voting rights to ex-felons? Discuss the various methods being used to restore voting rights (for example, executive action by the governor, referendum passed by the public, actions in state legislatures, etc.) and include specific examples from two different states. Do you agree with restoring voting rights to ex-felons? Why or why not?
- Current event paper (topic chosen by student and approved by instructor): The purpose of this assignment is for students to provide their perspective on a domestic or foregin policy issue (for example, trade, cost of prescriptions drugs, etc.). Students will prepare a summary and analysis of a current policy issue in American government. The issue must be reported in a news story during the term of the course (this news story is one of the sources you will use for the paper). A deeper understanding of the issue can be developed by reading additional articles or information on the topic. You must cite your reference (news story), as well as any other sources from which you use information in the writing assignment. The selected topic must be submitted to the instructor to ensure that it is appropriate for your analysis.