Many commentators have argued that the most important phase of selecting the U.S. president is the one that precedes the November election—the point at which the millions of potential candidates is reduced to two presidential and two vice-presidential candidates. The group task for the first paper in this course is to IDENTIFY THE TWO STRONGEST TICKETS THAT COULD APPEAR ON THE NOVEMEBER BALLOT IN 2000.
All too often in recent elections, people leave the polling place stating that they voted for the “lesser of two evils.” Citizens are not convinced that they are getting the strongest people on the ballot—their choices are less than ideal. Your task will be to present the two tickets that optimize the nation’s choice in the year 2000 presidential election.
Each group will have several tasks that it should try to complete together.
Here is the list of issues you need to grapple with:
1. What qualities make for a strong and successful president?
2. What should the nation be looking for, i.e., what are the most pressing needs to be met from 2001-2005?
3. What combination of presidential and vice-presidential skills maximizes the executive abilities and knowledge available to the nation?
The group’s task is to select the combination of candidates that best meets the nation’s needs and offers the best prospect for success. In selecting candidates for both the Democrats and the Republicans, you should survey the full list of presidential hopefuls and potential candidates considered to be of presidential calibre. Remember, you need to assess their relative merits and demerits, their capacities and limitations. The groups will work as research teams, dividing up the list of names to delve into the candidates’ qualifications—their background, previous experience, areas of substantive expertise, areas of deficiency.
Schedule for this Exercise
Weds. March 17—Getting Organized: develop the list of names, discuss
possible sources that should be examined before the next session, and begin
deciding what qualities make for a successful president.
Friday March 19—Work Session: finalize desirable qualities, compile final list of names, first discussion of information, share experience in sources, assignments for the weekend.
Monday March 22—Work Session: share findings, discuss relative strengths/weaknesses, decide on Tickets to be presented/defended on Wednesday, decide how the presentations should be done.
Wednesday March 24—Group Presentations: (probably in two separate groups—I will have help from a graduate student). Plan on a succinct, organized presentation of 9-10 minutes that explains why you selected this pair rather than others. Individual papers are due in class on Friday March 26. You will also be asked to complete an evaluation of fellow team members re. each person’s contribution to the collective effort.
Individual Paper: Each student needs to complete his/her own paper that will be due on Friday March 26th in class. Papers should be 7-10 pages in length, typewritten, double-spaced. Please be sure to list the sources you have used in a bibliography. Use “in-line” notes if you use quotations. You may agree or disagree with the position that your group has adopted, but your task is the same: to present the two best tickets that would optimize the nation’s choice in the presidential election of 2000. Although you need to explain why you selected the pairs, your emphasis should be on explaining their virtues rather than evaluating all the possibilities that were rejected.
In submitting this report, BOTH THE FINAL PAPER AS WELL AS YOUR NOTES AND DRAFTS ARE TO BE SUBMITTED. ALL THE RESEARCH MATERIALS USED FOR THE PAPERS INCLUDING XEROXES OF ARTICLES, ANY NOTE CARDS, DOWN-LOADED PRINT OUTS, HANDWRITTEN NOTES ETC., are to be turned in at the same time as the paper. IF YOU DO NOT SUBMIT THESE MATERIALS WITH THE PAPER, I DO NOT CONSIDER THE ASSIGNMENT COMPLETED.
Some Sources for Getting Started:
Past issues of The New York Times that dealt with candidates.
Check the Washington Post’s extensive discussion of presidential hopefuls on the Internet. Link is on the course syllabus on my home page (http://www.udel.edu/POSCISR/jpika) or here http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/keystories.htm
If you are unsure what vice presidents do, look for the essay in the Nelson reader that I wrote on vp’s, Chapter 19, pp. 527-564.
The University of Delaware Library has links to newspapers around the country—local papers whose coverage of favorite sons and daughters may be quite good. See http://www2.lib.udel.edu/enews/campus.htm.
The University of Delaware Library also has a database that includes
Lexis-Nexis Academe. Address is http://www.lib.udel.edu/lndb/govt-camp.html.
After getting onto the database page, select Lexis-Nexis and then notice
that you have many choices including “biographical.” Check it out.