All students are required to write a paper on one of the topics listed below or on a topic of your choice. The essay requires that you research and analyze a question of importance to contemporary American Politics. Your paper should be balanced reviewing both sides of the question and considering the arguments and evidence raised by supporters of both sides. Evaluate the arguments and evidence; then, form you own conclusions and defend them with logical arguments and evidence.
The paper must be at least six (6) pages in length but not greater than ten (10) pages. It must be typed, double spaced and 12 size font.
Papers will be evaluated both on the quality of ideas, arguments, evidence presented, and organization of the paper.
Students have the option of writing a draft of the paper, receiving feedback and then rewriting the paper.
Papers must be your own work. Anyone caught plagiarizing or cheating in any way will receive an F for the paper, and possibly for the course. (Hint: dont cheat!)
APPROVED TOPICS TO WRITE ABOUT:
1. Should the Constitution be amended to abolish the Electoral College and provide for the direct election of the President? Discuss the arguments made for and against the Electoral College. Where do you come down in this debate?
2. Some people argue that there is a religious war going on in the United States, a cultural war . . . for the soul of America. The culture war presumably centers on issues such as abortion, school prayer, and gay rights. Other disagree and argue that most Americans are pretty much middle-of-the-road on most issues with only small differences between Democrats and Republicans. What do you think? How polarized is the American public today on hot-button moral, religious and cultural issues? Write an essay in which you review and evaluate the evidence on American public opinion today.
3. Immigration policy has become a hot button issue in the US in recent years. Debate focuses on who should be admitted to the US, how many, and what to do with the millions of immigrants who are here without proper documents, some of whom have children who were born here and thus are US citizens. Write a BALANCED paper in which you summarize the major issues in this debate and review the arguments and evidence on both sides. Where do you come down in this debate? If you were President, what would your immigration policy be?
4. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, unheard of five years ago, are now a major factors in American Politics. Write an essay in which you assess both the factors that explain the sudden rise of the Tea Party OR Occupy Wall Street in America and evaluate its impact on American Politics and public policy. Has the Tea Party OR Occupy Wall Street been good or bad for America? Why?
5. The high levels of partisanship in Congress in recent years have all but paralyzed the institution making it almost impossible to pass even the most routine legislation. Thirty years ago, Congress was much less partisan, and it was common for Democrats and Republicans to compromise to pass legislation on a bipartisan basis. What are the main factors that explain the increasing partisanship in Congress over the past 30 years? Identify the major explanations offered by political scientists and journalists and evaluate the arguments and evidence is support of each. What do you think? Which explanations are most persuasive to you? Why?
If none of these paper topics is of interest to you, you are welcome to suggest a different one. Please let me know what question you would like to explore and we can discuss further the possibilities. Here is a suggestive list of topics in American politics you may want to explore writing about.
Budget and Taxes
Campaign and Political Reform
Crime, Death Penalty, and Drugs
Euthanasia (Right to Die)
Gun Control and the 2nd Amendment
Labor Unions, Jobs, and Business
Military, War and Veterans
Marijuana Legalization and Decriminalization
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