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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Medicare-For-Y'all

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*

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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.

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Impeaching to the Choir

What portion of the U.S. House does it take to impeach the president?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. List the branches of government involved in the impeachment process:

  3. List any other process that involves all the branches:

  4. A Goldilocks impeachment process would be just right. Explain whether you think that the impeachment process is too difficult, too easy, or just right?

  5. In Federalist No. 51, Madison wrote that the people are the best check on the government, “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government;” But that since the people could be wrong, “experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” The government must be set up to stop tyranny. He wrote that, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” Do you think that impeachment is a strong enough counteraction on the ambition of the presidency?

  6. Given the fact that the majority of the U.S. House is Democratic and the President is a Republican, do you think it is likely that the House will impeach the President?

  7. What portion of the U.S. Senate does it take to impeach a president?

  8. Given the fact that the majority of the Senate is Republican controlled and the President is a Republican, do you think it is likely that the Senate will convict the President in an impeachment trial?

  9. Explain whether you think President Trump should be impeached.

  10. Imagine that the House impeaches and the Senate convicts the President Trump. Imagine the President said he would not leave office. Who would enforce the Congress’ impeachment?

  11. Besides impeachment, is there any other way to remove a President from office?

  12. Only two U.S. presidents have ever been impeached. Why do you think the Framers made it so difficult to impeach a president?

  13. Right now, what portion of Americans want Trump to be impeached and how has that number changed over the Trump Administration?

  14. Explain any connection between the infographic above and federalism:

  15. Explain how the following factors would impact the likelihood of a president’s impeachment:

  • The President’s approval rating

  • Media coverage

  • The political party of the Supreme Court Chief Justice

  • Recent midterm election results

  • The partisan composition of the House and Senate

  • American involvement in a foreign war

  • The leadership of the House and Senate

  • Whether or not a president has committed an impeachable offense

Learning Extension

Check out this video on what percentage of Americans want Trump impeached. And check out these counteracting opinions, here’s an article Against Impeaching President Trump and an article for Impeaching President Trump.

Action Extension

Contact your member of Congress and share your opinion about Trump’s impeachment and then ask them their intention regarding impeaching the president? Share your exchange in class or online.

Fun With Data Extension

Never Forget

Never Forget

Infographic: Total of Ten Candidates Have Announced Presidential Bids  | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

One Party?

GoPo Pro

AP US Government and Politics

What % of Americans say there is hardly any difference in what the Democratic and Republican parties stand for.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Describe how much of a difference you think there is in what the Democratic and Republican parties stand for. Use one fact about current American political parties to support your claim.

  3. What trend do you see in the data?

  4. Explain whether this trend is good or bad news.

  5. Why do you think that is?

  6. How do you think that trend will impact the American political system?

  7. What issue do you think the Democrats and Republicans parties most agree on?

  8. The majority of Americans now say that there is a great deal of difference in what the Democratic and Republican parties stand for. What issue do you think the Democrats and Republicans parties most disagree about?

  9. The United States has a two-party system. Describe what it is about our electoral system and the way we vote that leads to the two-party system.

  10. In what way do you think the two-party system is good for the political system of the United States?

  11. Another name for this divergence in what the parties stand for is political polarization. What impact do you think the news media has on poltical polarization?

  12. Imagine you became king of American for a day. What would be one remedy to make American less polarized?

  13. In the current system of political party polarization, explain whether you think that the two major parties would come together to do what is best for our nation in a time of crisis.

  14. In Federalist No. 10 (one of our required foundational documents), James Freaking Madison wrote about factions (what today we might call political parties) saying, "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community". What the HECK does this quote mean?

  15. What would you say is the common impulse or passion which unites Democrats?

  16. What would you say is the common impulse or passion which unites Republicans?



Learning Extension

Watch this fantabulous video about Duverger’s Law and the origins of our two-party system.

Democrats and Republicans More Ideologically Divided than in the Past
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Action Extension

Ask five people to describe how much of a difference you think there is in what the Democratic and Republican parties stand for. Share your analysis of your results in class or online.

Slightly Random Extension (SRE)

Vampire Weekend has part of a new album out

You can listen to an interview with the band plus the two new Vampire Weekend tracks!