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Examining Political Questions to

Develop Argumentative Strategies

This is a fancy title for learning a little something about
a lot of issues, so that we may then write our opinion
responses with more substance and authority. The issues
we will be studying are often the subjects of articles which
appear in the Upfront New York Times Magazines
This activity is structured in three parts:
Today, we will become acquainted with just where the two major
American political parties (the Democrats and the Republicans)
say they stand on some key political issues.
Tomorrow, we will break out into groups, each group assigned one
of these political issues, and do online research for arguments in
favor of or against the parties positions on our assigned issues.
Next week, each group will present at least 4 major arguments in
favor of or against each parties position on their particular issue.
The Two-Party System

The Republican and Democratic parties

dominate American politics.
Only the candidates from the two major parties
have a chance to win most elections.

Why is this the case?

The Framers opposed political parties.
They saw parties as factions that caused disunity
and conflict. George Washington warned against
the dangers of parties.

Chapter 5, Section 1 Copyright Pearson Education, Inc. Slide 3

Political Spectrum

Radical Favors extreme change to create an altered

or entirely new social system.
Liberal Believes that government must take action to
change economic, political, and ideological
policies thought to be unfair.
Moderate Holds beliefs that fall between liberal and
conservative views, usually including some
of each.
Conservative Seeks to keep in place the economic,
political, and social structures of society.

Reactionary Favors extreme change to restore society to

an earlier, more conservative state.

Chapter 5, Section 1 Copyright Pearson Education, Inc. Slide 4

On the NPR show This American Life, host Ira Glass notes the widening chasm between the two

Everyone knows that politics is now so divided in our country that not only do the two sides
disagree on the solutions to the countrys problems, they dont even agree on what the problems
are. Its two versions of the world in collision.

Even the frequency of key words used in the parties

platforms indicates drastically contrasting perspectives.

Take the mention of God, for example: While in the

Republican party platform it appears 10 times, in the
Democratic platform it appears only once.
Mention of the Constitution (or some variant like
constitutional) is referenced 60 times by the Republicans,
compared to just 6 times in the Democratic platform.
And while Democrats make multiple references to the
urgency of addressing climate change, there is not a
single mention of it in the entire Republican platform.
How many of you strongly identify with one of the two
dominant American political parties?
If no, do your parents identify as Democrat or Republican?
Does anyone live in a home where your parents belong to
different political parties? How does this work out?
What factors do you believe have the most influence on
our political beliefs or identification?
How many of you feel that you made up their own minds
about your political beliefs?
How many of you have no real feelings about either party?
Why not?
On the issue of

On the issue of


On the issue of

(public/school choice, college/student loans)
On the issue of


We propose to extend the Bush tax cutsreform the tax

codeeliminate taxes interest, dividends, and capital gains A
altogether for lower and middle-income taxpayers; end the
Death Tax; and repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax. A
On the issue of

On the issue of


On the issue of

Everyone will be assigned to a group that will be responsible for studying
one of the particular issues which we just reviewed and then for sharing
those findings about your assigned issue with the class next week
After being assigned to a group, you will go to the media center next door
tomorrow and work with your group to research your issue
Your objective is to do research online, finding arguments in favor of or
against the positions taken by each party (Democrat or Republican), and
discussing them with your group.
Together you fill out a worksheet
that will serve as the basis for your
groups presentation to the class.
Your worksheet will list several good
websites that present a balanced view
of these issues. It is strongly suggested
that you use these sites for your group
research, as they are very helpful.
YOU WILL FIND ONLINE (at the recommended sites)
PRO Alternative Energy CON Alternative Energy

1. Reducing Oil Drilling

PRO: "Despoiling nature to get at the tiny trickle of oil CON: "It is estimated that there is enough oil and
we have left won't make any significant difference in natural gas offshore and in non-wilderness and non-
what we pay at the pump - not now and not ever. And it park lands in the United States - but currently ruled off-
won't make our country any less dependent on foreign limits for production by the federal government - to
fuel. Our thirst for oil is bad for national security, bad fuel 50 million cars and heat nearly 100 million homes
for our economy and bad for the environment for the next 25 years...

Over 1,300 questions on controversial The Bush administration's own Energy Department If Congress were to expand the areas available for
says that lifting the ban on offshore drilling would have active exploration, we could make more domestic
issues with over 12,000 pro, con, and a marginal impact on oil supplies and an 'insignificant'
impact on prices. Drilling in the Arctic National
energy available to Americans in the future, while
sending a strong positive supply signal to markets

not clearly pro or con statements. Wildlife Refuge would be similarly futile, shaving - at
the very most - 4 cents off a gallon of gas by 2026...
today, potentially putting downward pressure on prices.
It would also strengthen U.S. energy security by further
diversifying Americans energy portfolio, and therefore
America needs to say no to pumping up Big Oil's mitigating the impact of a disruption in any one
profits and yes to forging a new clean energy producing region of the world."

Information about the issues economy."

Natural Resources Defense Council

"Putting America's Energy Resources to Work,"

we will be studying can be "Build the Clean Energy Economy,"

(accessed Feb. 25, 2009),
June 2008

found in the format shown 2. Green Jobs for Economic Recovery

here at this site, PRO: "Citizens and community members everywhere
are seeking smart solutions to our two biggest problems
CON: "Hard times stir our appetites for easy answers,
but those are too often deceptive and dangerous. The
- the economic downturn and the ecological collapse. Green Recovery plan is a prime example--its
In the case of this particular The nation is finally realizing that the solutions to these
proponents would have us believe that pouring
taxpayer money into renewable energy like solar and
twin crises are linked. That is because nearly wind would create an estimated 5 million new jobs, end
question, at least a dozen pro everything that is good for the environment - and
practically everything that is good in the fight against
our reliance on imported oil and give us clean air.

global warming - is a job. As welcome as those results would be, they're based on
arguments and a dozen con Solar panels don't install themselves. Wind turbines
the illusion that renewable fuels are an energy panacea
and that the market is ignoring an easy answer that wise
politicians can clearly see. But the facts just don't
arguments are listed, giving don't manufacture themselves. Homes and buildings
don't retrofit or weatherize themselves. In our industrial
society, trees don't even PLANT themselves, anymore.
support this. Yes, renewable fuels will constitute a part
of our energy mix in the future, but they represent only

you an instant reference for Real people must do all of that work... a tiny fraction of our energy needs and won't lead us
out of the economic and environmental wilderness...
A well thought out shift to a clean energy economy
the kind of information you offers more work, more wealth and better health to
disadvantaged communities than does any plausible,
Taking into account the EIA's [US Energy Information
Agency] projected increases in electricity demand, the
renewable sector would need to grow 19% per year for
business-as-usual scenario...
would need to write more In a time of economic peril, let us never forget that
22 years consecutively to meet U.S. demand by the
year 2030. Clearly, these targets are overly ambitious
everything that is required to make America's economy and impractical...
effective opinion responses. cleaner, greener and more resilient is a career pathway
for someone. Or a business contract. Or an The government cannot create wealth or jobs; all it can
entrepreneurial opportunity. We can power America do is take from Peter to pay Paul, opening up a job in
through this recession by repowering America with 'green industry A' by eliminating one in 'fossil fuel
clean energy. We can create millions of jobs that will
Another useful site is
This site will also provide you with a thorough listing of
arguments on both sides of many of these issues.
It can also provide you with links to other useful sites
where you can study the issue further.
In a Nutshell
Yes No
1. Most violent crimes are committed with 1. Criminals will always find a way to
guns; thus, restricting gun ownership obtain their guns, leaving law-abiding
will likely reduce the number of such citizens without any weapons to use in
crimes. defense.
2. Lunatics, bullied school kids, 2. Crimes are often prevented by the
disgruntled workers, and others can deterrent effect of the possibility of
inflict mass casualties with guns that victim gun possession.
otherwise wouldn't be possible. 3. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution
3. A crime victim who has a gun may be in protects the individual's right to gun
more danger than an unarmed person ownership.
since the criminal may kill in perceived 4. Woman and weaker individuals may
self-defense. have no means of self-defense from rape
4. Suicides and crimes of passion are or other crimes, especially in the inner
higher with gun availability, as it's much city.
easier to act immediately on your 5. Guns in the possession of citizens are an
impulses when a gun is available. added protection against government
5. The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution tyranny.
was targeted towards militia, e.g. the 6. Police are often too overwhelmed to
National Guard, rather than individuals. protect all citizens from violent crime.
6. Crimes that may have been less harmful 7. Banning guns will create another
can be made more dangerous by adding potentially large source of organized
a gun. criminal revenue, as a black market for
7. Legalized gun ownership means guns guns will surely develop.
have a greater chance of falling into the 8. Banning guns will take away yet
hands of kids, potentially resulting in another piece of our liberty, which is
some deadly accidents. one more step to socialism and
8. Terrorism, school shootings, and other totalitarianism.
modern circumstances make guns more 9. Reasonable gun control & education
dangerous nowadays. steps can be put in place, so an outright
ban is unnecessary.
In the OPINIONS section of the website,
you will find links to discussions of various questions
about the issues. In these discussion forums, visitors to
the site post comments, providing another source of
arguments for and against many of these issues.

Results for labor union

1. Shouldn't every American be required to join a labor union?
Every American should not be required to join a labor union. Every American
should not be required to join a labor ... union. Not every industry has a labor
union because it would be foolish and unnecessary to create one. Consequently,
no one ...
Opinions Home Politics
2. Was Jimmy Hoffa's 1975 kidnapping/disappearance caused by rival labor
labor unions is an interesting one. I do not find it to be a stretch of the
imagination to believe that the man ... was actually kidnapped as part of a
conspiracy of other labor unions. Jimmy Hoffa Situation Not Caused by Labor
Unions It's hard ...
Opinions Home People
3. Labor Unions
I shall side against Labor Unions. First round is acceptance and introduction.
Rounds 2-4 are for arguments, and round ... 5 is conclusion. Labor Unions are a
burden on society because they cause a loss of autonomy, a less collaborative
work ...
0 comments Updated 4 Days ago Challenge Period
4. Should Labor Unions Support an Immigration Amnesty?
No. Labor Unions need to stray from political issues. No. Labor Unions really
need to stop involving themselves in so ... many political issues. Labor Unions
were once the back bone of American labor, and they did a wonderful job of
protecting ...
Opinions Home Politics
5. Are labor unions good?
Labor unions are good. Labor unions can be seen as good for the society in
general.Labor unions usually look out ... stores and restaurants that are open after
working hours and have affordable prices. NO, I don't think labor unions are
good ...
Opinions Home Miscellaneous
NEXT STEPS . . . . . PART 2

Working with your group, fill out the

worksheet provided to you tomorrow.
You will need to:
Explain in you own words the positions taken by the
Democratic and Republican Parties on your assigned issue.
Do online research about your assigned issue to determine
the pros and cons of the various positions taken by the
Democratic and Republican parties. Using the websites,, and, research
arguments both for and against the Democratic and
Republican positions on your particular issue.
In the space provided on the worksheet, write down at least
4 arguments that support the Democratic position on the
issue and 4 arguments that support the Republican position
on the issue. You may provide more than four if you wish.
NEXT STEPS . . . . . PART 3

After completing your worksheets, work together to determine

how you will present the information to the class (i.e., using
just one presenter or having each member take turns). If
possible, arrange to rehearse your presentation at least once.

Next week, each group will

present the findings of your
research on your assigned
issue to the entire class.
Please give Mr. Kay a copy of
your worksheet BEFORE the
day of the presentations, so
that they can make a one-
sheet of each groups work to
be shared with everyone in
the class.
With the completion of this activity, you will have compiled
an entire packet of information about the many issues that we
discussed when reviewing key points in the 2017 Democratic
and Republican Party platforms.
You will be able to then use this information as a veritable
arsenal of argumentative strategies which can help you when
writing opinion responses to newspaper articles or editorials,
such as those found in Upfront New York Times
arsenal (rs()n()l/) The definition of an arsenal is a collection of things, skills and/or
talents. An example of having an arsenal of information is the tax professional who knows all the ins and
outs on how to get his client the best refund.