Democratic Socialism

Do more Democrats approve of socialism or capitalism?

  1. What the What?!?! How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprised are you by this data?

  3. What is the big story the chart tells?

  4. Describe some of the main differences between capitalism and socialism.

  5. Why do you think more Democrats approve of socialism than capitalism?

  6. How will this impact the nomination process for the 2020 presidential election?

  7. Identify some Democratic party leaders who you associate with socialist beliefs.

  8. Identify some Republican Party leaders who you associate with capitalist beliefs.

  9. The goal of a political party is to turn it’s beliefs into policy by winning elections. In terms achieving these goals, explain whether you think that the shift of Democrats towards socialism is good news for the Democratic Party.

  10. Democrats are generally associated with a liberal political ideology. Explain whether liberalism is compatible with socialism.

  11. Republicans are generally associated with a conservative political ideology. Explain whether conservatism is compatible with capitalism?

  12. What is one trend you see in the chart?

  13. Explain whether independent voters would be more attracted to capitalism or socialism?

  14. Are capitalism and socialism mutually exclusive?

  15. What is one policy that a democratic party moving towards the left, towards more socialism, would be likely to endorse?

  16. What is one policy in American government that is a result of the influence of Capitalism?

  17. What is one policy in American government that is a result of the influence of socialism?

  18. How much do you think the echo-chamber of social media has contributed to this leftward slant of Democrats, and rightward slant of Republicans?

  19. In the past, the chart above would have had more people smack dab in the middle. What has happened to those people and how does the lack of a center impact gridlock in American politics (border walls, government shutdowns, etc.)?

  20. Imagine you are one of the 10% of Republicans who have a positive view of socialism. What do you imagine is the main reason these people are Republicans instead of Democrats?

  21. How do you think age impacts approval of socialism?*

  22. The Federalist argues that most young people who like socialism don’t really know what it is! Do you think most old people who like capitalism really know what it is?

  23. Based on your knowledge of American politics, respond to the Federalist’s claim above.

Visual Extension

Learning Extension

Read this FiveThirtyEight story about millennials and socialism.

Action Extension

Then check out some of the young folks in this year’s POLITICO50, Politico’s list of 50 ideas driving politics (and the people behind them). Share the idea or person that you find most interesting on social media or by word of mouth.

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How big is your room in the House of Representatives?

The average member of the U.S. House of Representatives represents how many people?

The number of people per representative has grown dramatically since nation's founding
  1. How accurate was your prediction?
    How accurate do you think the average American’s prediction would be?

  2. What portion of Americans even know there are three branches of government?

  3. What trend do you see in the data in the chart above?

  4. Describe one cause of that trend.

  5. Explain one consequence of that trend.

  6. What is one negative consequence of having so many people per congressional district?

  7. How much range is there in the size of congressional district in the United States?* (see chart below)

  8. How does the size of American congressional districts compare with other countries?* (see groovy chart below)

  9. There is currently a cap on the membership of the U.S. House of Representatives at 435. Do you think that cap is a good idea?

  10. Imagine you wanted to change the 435 member cap. What method would you need to use to make that change?

  11. Explain why that change be difficult to enact.

  12. Explain which is more democratic, representation in the U.S. House or representation in the U.S. Senate.

Thanks to @MrSautters @RAPLewis @MCMartirone for their ongoing support and for the inspiration for today’s class starter.

Visual Extension*

Wide range of representation ratios across states
The U.S. has the largest representation ratio among OECD nations

Learning Extension

Read the Pew Research Center’s report about U.S. House district size, U.S. population keeps growing, but House of Representatives is same size as in Taft era.

Action Extension

Contact your U.S. House member, let them know what you think about the House’s 435 member cap, and ask them what they plan to do about it. Share your correspondence in class, online, or in a classy oil painting!!!!

Fun Fact Extension

  • The first Congress (1789-91) had 65 House members.

  • A 1929 law authorizing that census also capped the size of the House at 435. And there it has remained, except for a brief period from 1959 to 1963 when the chamber temporarily added two members to represent the newly admitted states of Alaska and Hawaii.

  • One proposal to add seats to the House is the so-called “Wyoming Rule,” which would make the population of the smallest state (currently Wyoming) the basis for the representation ratio. Depending on which variant of that rule were adopted, the House would have had 545 to 547 members following the 2010 census.

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What portion of Americans favor “having a national health plan. sometimes called Medicare-for-all, in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan.”

  1. How accurate was your amazing prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about the data form the figure above?

  3. Explain whether you personally favor, “having a national health plan. sometimes called Medicare-for-all, in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan.”

  4. How do you think opinion on this question varies by political party affiliation?* (chart Below)

  5. A number of major Democratic presidential candidates have already supported Medicare-for-all. Explain what it is about the party platform and liberal political ideology that would make these Democrats so supportive of Medicare-for-all.

  6. Given what you know about Republican political ideology and party platform, explain whether you expect any major Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump to embrace Medicare-for-all.

  7. Wait a second, what is Medicare anyway?

  8. Did you know that, according to the American Association of Retired People (AARP), before Medicare become law in 1965, almost 1 in 2 older Americans had no health insurance and faced a bleak future if they got seriously ill. Their choices often included wiping out their savings, taking money from their children, seeking welfare or doing without care. Medicare delivers a guaranteed level of coverage to people who might not otherwise be able to afford it. But how exactly did Medicare get invented and become law?

  9. Explain whether you support the idea of people over 65 having federally provided health insurance.

  10. If all people over 65 have a right to have government provided health insurance why don’t people in their 30s or their 40s have the same right?

  11. Describe how life in America would be different without Medicare.

  12. 77% of Americans (all Americans: Republicans, Independents, and Democrats) agree that people between the age of 50 and 65 should be able to buy insurance through Medicare. What about the American political process has kept that very popular idea from becoming a reality?

  13. If you were a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and governed as a delegate, Given public opinion in support of it, explain what position you would most likely take on Medicare-for-all.

  14. Since there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution directly about creating our outlawing Medicare, Explain how Medicare is legal.

  15. Imagine that the U.S. decided to move towards Medicare-for all, describe the rolE each of the three branches of government would play in the law-making and implementation process.

  16. Imagine that Americans became serious about adopting Medicare-for-all. Describe the actions interest groups opposed to Medicare-for-all could take to limit its popularity and adoption.

  17. America already has the most expensive health care in the world, with an extremely low return on our investment (we don’t get a lot of bang for our health-care back). Do you think Medicare-for-all would improve our return on our health-care investment?

  18. If we had a Medicare-for-all system Describe a method the country could use to pay for it.

  19. Describe how Americans’ views on Medicare-for-all change when they are given more information about what it means and how it would be funded?* (Chart below)

  20. What is the most interesting thing you learned in today’s class starter?

  21. What questions do you have about Medicare-for-all?

  22. How big of an issue do you think Medicare-for-all will be in the 2020 presidential election?

  23. What famous basketball player from North Carolina wore jersey #23?

Visual Extension*


Learning Extension

Check out the tracking polling data from this Kaiser Family Foundation public opinion poll about Medicare-for-all.

Action Extension

Research which major presidential candidates support Medicare-for-all and share your findings in class or online.

Stupid Action Extension

Ask your English teacher to predict who has a bigger vocabulary, William Shakespeare or Wu-Tang Clan. See what they say. Tell them that they are wrong. See what happens.


Government of the states, by the states, and for the states

AP US Government and Polar Vortex

In 2040 (only 21 years from now), 30 U.S. Senators, representing the 15 most populous states, will be home to what % of the American population?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprised are you by this data?

  3. What is the cause of so many people having such little representation?

  4. How different will this be from current representation?

  5. This imbalance means that 33% of the population will get 70% of Senate representation. Explain whether this is fair.

  6. Where will those states with more population get representation equal to their population?

  7. How will this impact American politics?

  8. More populous states tend to be more liberal than less populous states. Make a claim about how the ideology of the U.S. Senate in 2040 be different from the U.S. House?

  9. What are some powers that belong only to the Senate?

  10. What is the historical reason that we give every state no matter its size, 2 Senators?

  11. Explain whether someone who valued political equality very highly would advocate abolishing the U.S. Senate and having only a unicameral legislature based only on population.  

  12. What makes a state so special today? The original states were basically divided into their shape by colonists 200+ years ago? We know that at the time of the Constitutional Convention, each state was equal, and that made states special. But what makes states special today? Why should they get two senators each, no matter how few people live there? What if we just randomly drew lines on the map dividing the US up into 50 interesting shapes, would each of those shapes deserve special status - and two U.S. Senators? What if we gave the 50 biggest river basins 2 senators? And what if every single person from the state of Delaware moved, would we still give Delaware two Senators?

  13. If we had a unicameral legislature based on population, how would that impact federalism?

  14. If we erased all state lines and just called this the United People of America, how would that impact federalism?

  15. How would American policy be different if we erased all states?

  16. What would an anti-Federalist (like Thomas Jefferson) say about erasing all states?

  17. Brutus I (which I’ll call an Anti-Federalist Paper) argues, “The first question that presents itself on the subject is, whether a confederated government be the best for the United States or not? Or in other words, whether the thirteen United States should be reduced to one great republic, governed by one legislature, and under the direction of one executive and judicial; or whether they should continue thirteen confederated republics, under the direction and controul (sp!) of a supreme federal head for certain defined national purposes only?” How would a good federalist (like James Madison) respond to this argument?

  18. How would you respond to this argument?

Learning Extension

You know the magazine, GQ? The one with all the pictures of beautiful people? Yeah, that one. They also have words. Check out this interesting argument for why we should abolish the Senate.

Action Extension

Tell your best friend in the whole world (BFF) whether you think we should abolish the Senate. Share your argument and their reaction in class or online.

Visual Extension


Campaign Stops

AP US Government and Politics and Snow!

In the 2016 presidential elections, after the party nominating conventions, what four states had over half of all campaign events?

Post-Convention Campaign Stops per State


AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What was most surprising about this map?

  3. What is the take home story of this map?

  4. explain why the map looks this way.

  5. What is one consequence of this concentration of campaign activity?

  6. What is the political science term we use to describe these four states?

  7. Central to the concept of democracy is the the idea that all people are politically equal. The Declaration of IndEpendence contains these lines regarding the value of equality. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” Does this map resemble political equality?

  8. Why did California, the nation's most populous state, receive only one campaign stop?

  9. 28 states received no visits from presidential campaigns. Why is that?

  10. Explain whether the information from this map is good news.

  11. Imagine the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished the Electoral College (don’t hold your breath). How would that COnstitutional change impact the data from the map?

  12. Explain how this concentrated campaign activity in those four states impacted voter turnout in those states.

  13. Explain how this concentrated campaign activity in those four states impacted voter turnout In the other states.

  14. At the time of the Constitutional COnvention The Anti-Federalists were afraid of too much power being concentrated in a central national government. They preffered that power be centered at the state level. If an anti-federalist saw this map, after they stopped freaking out about how Big the U.S. had gotten, what claim would they make about this map and the power of states?

  15. What change in the US electoral system could make campaign events be spread more evenly throughout the US?

  16. What is a pirate’s Favorite place to eat lunch?*

Learning Extension

Analyze the map with the folks from NPVP and watch this video that explains how the NPVP works.

Action Extension

If states with a majority of electoral votes enacted the National Popular Vote Plan, US presidential campaigns would be very different and campaign stops would be more evenly distributed. Use this handy little link to contact your state representative (they decide where your state's electoral votes go) and let them know what you think about the National Popular Vote Plan.

Dog Meme Extension

AP US Government and Dogitics

AP US Government and Dogitics

Snow Map Extension

How Much Snow Does It Take To Cancel School?

How Much Snow Does It Take To Cancel School?    AP Government and Politics

How Much Snow Does It Take To Cancel School?

AP Government and Politics