Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ripped From the Headlines--Mid-term Elections

Mid-term Elections...Changing the Face of Congress?
Reference CNN sites:

Reference Hippocampus: Lesson 14

The picture of Tea Party rallies around the nation has become all too common in our daily news. These Americans, tired of paying high taxes and feeling neglected by those inside the Washington beltway, have taken their protests to the streets, parks, and meeting halls calling for lower taxes, an end to health care bills, and for the major parties to listen to them. Sarah Palin has address them, Republicans have applauded their efforts, and Congress has listened. The question now is, will these dissatisfied citizens speak where it counts the the polls next November.

Right now is a great time to have a class discussion on the midterm elections. I have offered you two articles from CNN to help you with this. The first article is a good ice breaker for your class. Even though it came out before the passage of the health care bill, it brings out many of the points you will want to discuss with your class.

For example, the article points out that many American express concern about single party control of Congress. It also points out that Democrats feel that the health care bill will solidify its voters while the Republican feel like it will drive Independents to the GOP candidates.

What do we know about midterm elections? First, the party in power in the White House almost always loses some seats at the midterm. Wikipedia (Midterm elections) has a nice chart on this you might want to share with the students. Mr. Obama can almost count on losing some seats. The question will be if the health care bill and the Tea Party movement will compound this enough to change the balance of power in Congress.

This is where the second CNN site can be good. This site isn't an article, rather it is an interactive graphic showing how many Republicans and Democrats are leaving Congress thus creating open seats. Since we know that incumbents win in the House at almost a 90% clip and in the Senate at just slightly less of a rate, the open seats might be the deciding factors in the election.

As the time of the year approaches when many of us will begin reviewing students for the Exam, a lively discussion on midterm elections could be very beneficial. First, you can use it as an opportunity to check your student's understanding of Congressional elections and incumbency. Second, you can review elections and campaigning using current issues for examples. Third, you can encourage your students to get out and vote their convictions next year. While many of our students (if they are seniors) have turned eighteen by now, most will not have a real voting opportunity until the November midterm election. While achieving your teaching goals, you might just make this election a salient one for them and promote their responsibility as citizens by getting them out to vote next fall.

November is eight months away...will people still be discussing health reform? Will the Tea Parties die out or will they find new issues to rally around? Will Mr. Obama maintain his majorities in Congress? Will Americans get tired of Washington politics? Wow...a plethora of topics and all timely for AP review. Enjoy!!!! RV.

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