Changes in Democracy

US Government and Politics

How has the percent of the world living in a democracy changed over the past 200 years?

Max Roser - Our World In Data

US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprises you about this chart?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells about democracy in the world?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is the most important consequence of this?

  6. Overall, is this good news or bad news?

  7. What the heck is a closed anocracy, and is that the direction the U.S. is headed in under Trump?

  8. What question do you have about this chart?

  9. With the Trump victory and the rise of authoritarian political party power in Europe what do you think the future of democracy looks like over the next 4 or 5 years?

  10. Based on the overall trends of this chart, what would you say to people who are all in a tizzy with worry about the rise of Trump and authoritarian governments around the world?

  11. If the % of people living in democracies has increased, what types of government have most decreased?

  12. If you had to extrapolate and predict where we would be in the next 200 years what prediction would you make?


Learning Extension

Check out this list of the world's closed anocracies


Action Extension

Keep the U.S. a democracy! Go online and Register to vote. If you are not old enough to vote, or already are registered, share this link with your friends on social media.

Bonus Chart

Rockin' In The Free World?

¿How free is the world?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about the map and tables?

  3. What is the big story that this map tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. How do you think Freedom House defines and measures “Freedom”?

  6. What geographical patterns or trends do you find in the map?

  7. What is the most free region of the world?

  8. What is the least free region of the world?

  9. What do you think is the main explanation for why some parts of the world are free and others aren't?

  10. Explain whether this is all generally good news or bad news?

  11. In the comments section share whether you think the U.S. should take a role in making the world more free:


Learning Extension

Read the entire Freedom House Report: Freedom In The World 2016


Action Extension

Contact President Obama and explain the role you believe the U.S. should take in making the world more free.

Bonus Map Just For Fun

Driving (R)Age

What is the national minimum driving age?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What was the most surprising thing you learned from this map?

  3. What's the minimum driving age in your state?

  4. Why don't we have a national minimum driving age?

  5. What would the typical Anti-Federalist say about whether we should have a national driver’s age? (I know, I know, they are all dead, you’ve never met an Anti-Federalist. Use your IMAGINATION!)

  6. Explain whether the U.S. of A. should have a national minimum driving age?

  7. How do you think accident rates compare in South Dakota (14.3 driving age) and New Jersey (17 driving age)?

  8. How do you think the US compares to the rest of the world in terms of driving age?*

  9. Describe the connection between the data from this map and federalism.

  10. Imagine that the Constitution had not been ratified - ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! and we were still ruled by the Articles Of Confederation -yiiiiiiiikes! How would that change the national discussion of things like driving age, marijuana legalization, same sex marriage?

  11. Imagine, on the other hand, that we lost the American War for Independence and were still ruled by a king who had absolute power: Boooooooooo! How would that change the national discussion of things like driving age, marijuana legalization, same sex marriage?

  12. Would you be willing for your state to raise the driving age by two years if your state also simultaneously lowered the drinking age by two years?

  13. Based on the map, to which state would you most want to move?

  14. Explain whether the U.S. has been moving towards or away from a more powerful federal government, relative to the states. Give one or two examples to support your claim.

  15. Describe how driving age regulations relate to checks and balances.

  16. Let’s say that you wanted to create a national minimum driving age. Describe the steps a bill would have to pass through to make this happen.

  17. Imagine that the national auto insurance coalition wants to create a national driving age. Describe three steps they could take to make this happen.

  18. In the comments section below, write your reaction to news that your state legislature is considering raising the minimum driving age in your state by one year.

*Visual Extension

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Learning Extension

States with strict graduated drivers licenses see up to 30% fewer crashes. Read this short report on three Senators who are trying to create a standard national graduated drivers license.

Action Extension

Contact your U.S. Senator and let them know what you think about a national graduated drivers license (GDL)

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothes Extension

Birthright Citizenship

US Government and Politics

How many countries guarantee *birthright citizenship?

*Automatic citizenship to anyone born in that country

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about the state of birthright citizenship in the world?

  3. What patterns do you see in the map?

  4. What is the big story this map tells?

  5. What is one consequence of a country not offering birthright citizenship?

  6. What criteria for citizenship should our nation have?

  7. Do you believe that the US should continue to offer birthright citizenship?

  8. Are there any restrictions you would place on birthright citizenship?

  9. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees citizenship to all natural born Americans. Do you think the XIV Amendment should be repealed?

  10. Let's say that the POTUS wanted to end birthright citizenship. What steps could they take to make that happen?


Learning Extension

Learn more about the birthright citizenship battle at Vox.


Action Extension

Contact your U.S. Senator and let them know what you think about birthright citizenship.

Should news organizations be free to criticize political leaders?

AP US Government and Politics

What percent of Americans said that news organizations being free to criticize political leaders is very important in maintaining a strong democracy in the United States?

Pew Research Center

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Why do you think less than 2/3 of Americans strongly support a free press?

  3. What is a consequence of this level of support?

  4. Is this generally good news?

  5. How do you think the Trump administration has affected these views?

  6. How do you think views on the free press varied between members of the Republican and Democratic Parties?*

  7. Why do you think that is?

  8. What is a consequence of this variance?

  9. Explain whether news organizations being free to criticize political leaders is very important in maintaining a strong democracy in the United States.

  10. What most surprised you about this information?

  11. Complete the survey above based on your personal opinion on the five institutions listed in the Pew survey above.

  12. How different were your answers from the average American?

  13. How different do you think these answers would have been 20 years ago?

  14. Would you say that there democracy is under threat in the United States today?

Take Our Survey
Take Our Survey
News organization being free to criticize political leaders is important to maintaining strong democracy in the United States

Learning Extension

Check out the Pew survey results.


Action Extension

Ask ten people to complete the five questions from the Pew survey above and compare their results with those of the general American public. Share your results with class or online.


Bonus Charts*

Calling the Kettle Black

AP US Government and Politics

What portion of Americans think marijuana should be legal?

Pew Research Center

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this information?

  3. Explain whether marijuana should be legal.

  4. Do you think marijuana will ever be legal in your state and if so when?

  5. What is one trend you see in the chart tell?

  6. Why is that? 

  7. List 1 consequence of Americans' changing opinions on the legalization of marijuana:

  8. What does federalism have to do with marijuana legalization?

  9. Current Attorney General and former member of Alvin and the Chipmunks, Jeff Sessions is a strong opponent of marijuana. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week declared that marijuana—a drug on which no person has ever overdosed—was nearly as dangerous as heroin, a drug that killed 12,989 Americans in a single year. How much power does the Attorney General have in enforcing federal laws (pro tip: marijuana is illegal)?

  10. As you know, marijuana is now legal, in one way or another, in 28 states. What actions do you think Attorney General Sessions will take regarding enforcing federal marijuana law?

  11. Attorney General Sessions and the Department of Justice have recently taken steps threatening legal marijuana. Many members of the U.S. Senate have opposed these steps. What could the Senate do to the DOJ and how does this issue relate to checks and balances?

  12. Plot out what you predict this chart will look like over the next twenty years.

  13. What's the worst argument you've ever heard about the legalization of marijuana?

  14. How much do you think political party affiliation impacts opinions on the legalization of drugs?

  15. In the comments section below, write one question you have about the issue of the legalization of marijuana.


Learning Extension

Watch this documentary about federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where marijuana is "legal."

Action Extension

According to the US federal government recreational marijuana is ILLEGAL, but the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and the District of Columbia, andothers have made recreational marijuana LEGAL. Using your knowledge of US politics, and the video you've just watched, considering the fact that all these states and districts are in the US, write one piece of advice you would give someone who was thinking about using recreational marijuana in a state or district where it is legal. Share your advice in class or online.

Bonus Charts

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Health Care Haves and Have Nots

AP US Government and Politics

The citizens of what state have the lowest rate of health care insurance in the US?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What patterns do you notice in the chart/map?

  4. Is this chart/map good news?

  5. Why do you think some states have different rates of health insurance coverage than others?

  6. What is a consequence of these different rates of health insurance?

  7. What would the following people say about the data in the chart/map: Liberal/Conservative/Libertarian?

  8. What are some consequences for states with very high levels of uninsured citizens?

  9. What specific program that attempted to raise the rate of health insurance coverage in the US was rejected by most of the sates that now have the highest rates of uninsured?

  10. Why do you think these states rejected this program?

  11. What is the connection between this data and political party affiliation?

  12. What does any of this have to do with federalism?

  13. If we lived in a country with a unitary form of government, how would this information most likely be different?

  14. What was the overall direction of health insurance coverage during the 8 years between 2008-1016?

  15. President Trump has said repeatedly that he wants to destroy Obamacare. Obamacare was mostly responsible for lowering the rates of uninsured people in America. Why do you think Trump wants to take a step that will certainly cause a huge rise in the rate of the uninsured in America?

  16. What do you predict the rate of health insurance coverage will look like after 8 years of Trump?

  17. Describe one policy that could immediately lower the rate of uninsured nationwide?

  18. Describe one policy that could immediately raise the rate of uninsured nationwide?

  19. Explain which of those two policies you would prefer:

  20. Let's say you were in charge of leading charge for reducing the number of people with health insurance. Write a slogan to get people to be on your side in this fight!

Action Extension

Contact The White House and let them know what you think about their efforts to undo Obamacare.

Learning Extension

Check out the interactive map of health insurance rates in the US.

Governeithers and Governors

AP US Government and Politics

How many U.S. states have Democratic governors?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What surprised you most about this map?

  3. Why do you think the GOP has such an advantage in governorship?

  4. What is one consequence of this staggering GOP advantage?

  5. What is one geographical pattern in the map?

  6. Under some circumstances government can appoint people to serve in the national government. What positions may governors appoint?

  7. Under what circumstances may they make these appointments?

  8. What party controls the governor's mansion (the governor) and the legislature in your state and how has that personally impacted you?

  9. Governors make state policy and lead their state executive branches. What is one other way that governors can impact national politics and policy?

  10. Under the Articles of Confederation, the states were almost like little countries. Today, under the Constifreakingstution states have a lot less power. In the future do you think states will cease to exist?

  11. How does this map related to federalism?

  12. Do you think the US would be better off to have more of a unitary government (with concentration of power at the national level)?

  13. What is one positive impact of the fact that we have state governments and governors and don't just leave all the power to the national government?

  14. How do you think this map looks for Republican control of state legislatures?*

  15. What is one power of state legislatures that impacts US national elections?

  16. Considering that Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court (majority conservative), and the majority of state governments, would it be fair to say that the US is a Republican country?

  17. There are many more Democrats than Republicans in the U.S. How do you explain the difference in electoral numbers and in electoral outcomes?

Learning Extension

Read the Daily Kos article about state governments and how the Trump presidency may alter the state government map in 2018.

Action Extension

Contact your Governor and ask them to do the following: visit your classroom (really, this would be cool and if it is near election time - it always is - they might just do it), make your state great again, send you a photograph, write you a letter, lend you a key to the state, and make a proclamation declaring you the best dressed person in the entire state and entitling you to 15% off at McDonald's before 11 am every Tuesday. Share the results in class or online.

 

 

 

 

*Bonus Maps

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Amendments

AP US Government & Politics

Since 1999, how many amendments to the Constitution have been sponsored in the U.S. Congress?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What story does this chart tell?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is a political consequence of this information?

  6. Which party proposed the most amendments?

  7. Why do you think that is?

  8. How many of these proposals received the 2/3 Congressional approval necessary to send them to the next step in the Amendment process?

  9. Why do you think these lawmakers are proposing amendments to the constitution instead of just passing a law?

  10. What topic do you think most of those Amendment proposals were about?*

  11. The last time a proposed amendment gained the necessary two-thirds support in both the House and Senate was 1978, when a measure giving District of Columbia residents voting representation in Congress was sent to the states for ratification. Only 16 states had ratified it when the seven-year time limit expired. When was the last time the U.S. Constitution was amended?

  12. Some would say it is too difficult to amend the Constitution? Explain your opinion of this:

  13. Just for kicks, let's just say you were planning to amend the Constitution. What method would you use to amend it?

  14. If you were to propose an amendment to the Constitution what would you propose?** Submit your proposal in the comments section below. The winner will get a certificate of achievement and will alter the US Constitution!

*Bonus Chart!!!!

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Learning Extension

Learn more about this with the good folks at Pew.

Action Extension

Contact your congressional representative and ask them to propose your amendment** to the Constitution.

Democracy And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

AP Government and Politics

What percentage of Americans born in the 1980s (that makes them around 30 years old) say that it is "essential to live in a democracy"?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big trend in the chart?

  3. What are two things that explain that trend?

  4. What are two consequences of that trend?

  5. Explain whether, overall, this trend is a good thing.

  6. How do you think this trend is connected to the rise of Donald Trump?

  7. Why do you think there is such a big difference between young people (you) and old people (me) regarding support of democracy?

  8. What the HECK is wrong with you young people?

  9. And if you don't want democracy, then what the heck do you want????

  10. Now let's think about global views on democracy. What do all the countries in the chart have in common?

  11. How is the US different from other countries on this chart?

  12. What is the big story this chart paints for the entire world?

  13. If the trends in this chart continue, what will support for democracy be like in these global democracies in 20 years?

  14. Pro Tip: No two democracies have ever gone to war with each other. Question: If there are less democracies, how much more likely is the outbreak of war?

Learning Extension

Check out this great article from Quartz and the bonus charts below* about why young people (that's you) don't love democracy!!!!

Action Extension

Ask your peers their opinion on democracy. Have five people hold a sign with the word democracy on it. Have each person put their thumbs up or down, depending on their view of democracy. Share these images in class or online.

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