It's Debatable

Enter the Student Contest!

Share your ideas government hot topics American government classesWhat Do You Think?

Every chapter in By The People contains hot topics that are identified by thought bubbles like the ones you see below. They are designed to help you engage your students and reinforce the topics discussed in the chapters through healthy debate both inside of class and out.

Here are just a few examples of the “What do you think” topics found throughout the book:

- Do you agree or disagree that the “millenial generation” is less involved and interested in politics?
- Is freedom the “absence of constraints” (negative liberty) or the freedom to pursue one’s goals with equal opportunity (positive liberty)?

- What advice would you give American leaders in 1787? Yes…stick with the Articles of Confederation and give it more time, or No…build a new central government?

- Should we leave the question of executions to the states – with minimal oversight by the Supreme Court, OR should we decide collectively as a nation, so that when it comes to the death penalty, punishment does not depend on the state you live in?

- How would you rule in Griswold v Connecticut? Do you agree that there is “a right to privacy” in the Constitution that permitted the Court to strike down the Connecticut ban on contraceptives?

- If you were in college between 1960 and 1962, would you have taken part in the early sit-ins and freedom rides? Why or why not?
- What do you think of global volunteering? Do you think it is a worth-while contribution to society or do you worry that it might do more harm than good?

- It’s election night and you are news director for a TV station. Exit polling suggests that a local race is breaking overwhelmingly for one candidate. Your reporters are pushing you to let them announce it to beat other stations to the punch. What do you do?

- Think about the American media…what do you see for it in the future of democracy and politics? Are you with the optimists or the pessimists?
- There are over 520,000 elective offices at the local, state, and national level. Some argue that our electoral system has become too democratic. What do you think? Is that too many elected positions?

- Consider your own personality and party preference. Does recent political science research help predict your view – and those of the people around you?

- Are Interest Groups good for American Government?


- The trustee and the delegate views are both legitimate ways to represent people. Do what you think is best—or do what the people tell you to do. On every issue, each representative must decide how to weigh these two key factors. How you would act as a member of the Senate or House.

- Watch the President in action, delivering speeches and interacting with staff and family. How would you describe his personal style? What are its elements? Think about how they seem effective and what their shortcomings appear to be.

- Research suggests that competitive contracting can save money and boost quality. However, using private contractors poses its own problems including the need for careful oversight. Do you think we should privatize more government functions?

- If you pick another case for us to add to our list of landmark cases, what would it be? Why?
- Social Security and Medicare are perhaps the two most fiercely defended U.S. government programs. Are you willing to tackle cutting Social Security and Medicare (and, while you are at it, Medicaid)? Or would you leave it in tact?

- Let’s return to the $700 billion question. Should we downsize the American military? Keep it large – or grow it even more? If you were advising the president, what would you tell him we should do and why?