At first, our nation’s founders—including Hamilton, Jefferson, and others—believed political parties were evil and a threat to the new nation. But these early American leaders soon began to invent a new and essential role for political parties in a democracy.
Choice Board – How Effective Are Presidential Campaign Ads?
The methods in which candidates, political parties and interest groups promote their positions and policies have evolved since the first television campaign ads aired. In this lesson, students will view videos of historical presidential campaign advertisements and analyze the features found within each to determine the overall effectiveness.
2020 Presidential Candidates on the Issues
In this lesson, students will view video clips of the 2020 presidential candidates from the two major political parties discussing specific issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, immigration and the environment. Students will use these primary source video clips of President Trump and former Vice President Biden to summarize the candidates’ views on these issues and formulate their own opinions on the candidates.
Political Ideology in America: Bumper Sticker Politics
Americans love to personalize their vehicles in a way you will not see in many other countries. This lesson explores political ideology by analyzing data on automobile purchases and bumper stickers. Students will learn generalizations about conservatives, liberals, Democrats, Republicans, libertarians, socialists and appreciate the American custom of advertising political thought in public. Free registration required to access the lesson plan.
Too Many Candidates vs. Too Few
Explore the role of third-party candidates and how the American political system makes it very difficult for anyone outside the Republican or Democratic Party to win the White House. Registration is required to view this resource.
The Constitution in Action: The Early Republic
This unit presents students with several such issues faced by Americans in the Early Republic as they tried to interpret and implement the Constitution. Lessons address “Origin of the Bill of Rights,” “Strict v. Loose Construction,” “Who Shapes Foreign Policy?” “State Challenges to Federal Authority: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions,” and “Political Parties and Presidential Electors: The Election of 1800.”
The Constitution in Action – Political Parties and Presidential Electors: The Election of 1800
History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students in the Early Republic and asks them to engage in the politics of those times. Acting as either Federalists or Republicans, they will be asked to develop strategies for electing their party’s standard bearer as president, using the Constitution’s complex system of presidential electors to their advantage.
Primaries: By Invitation Only?
Primary season can be a wild ride. Voters narrow the field of candidates in contest after contest, while the parties use complicated rules to try to control who ultimately secures the nomination.
Debate Watching Guide
This lesson is designed to help students view political debates. The resources provided support the critical evaluation of the candidate’s performances. Body language, demeanor, appearance and positions on key issues are analyzed in an attempt to help students determine the importance of debates to the election cycle. This lesson could be used in class or as a homework assignment.