American Empire?

US Government and Politics

In how many countries are U.S. troops present?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprised are you by this information?

  3. How surprising do you think this information would be to the average American?

  4. What is one reason the U.S. has a military presence in so much of the world?

  5. What is one consequence of the U.S. having a military presence in so much of the world?

  6. Which of the countries where the US has a military presence was most surprising to you?

  7. What would be a good title for this map?

  8. What do you think this map would have looked like 116 years ago?

  9. How do you think this map will look different in 20 years?

  10. In the comments section, explain whether you believe this is good news or bad news?

  11. Who are some members of the U.S. government who make decisions about levels of troop deployment?

  12. Imagine you objected to this level of U.S. Involvement. Describe the most politically efficacious step A U.S. Citizen could take to change this:

Action Extension

Post a copy of this map on social media or show a copy of this map to five of your friends. Ask them to share their reaction with you and then share highlights or an overview of their reactions with your president.

Learning Extension

Read this interesting article about the American Empire.

Visual Extension

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No Vacation Nation

AP US Government and Politics

How many paid holidays and vacation days does the U.S. government mandate by law?

CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND POLICY RESEARCH

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What was most surprising about this information?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells?

  4. Why do you think the US has such a low level of vacation time compared to all other wealthy nations?

  5. What is one consequence of not having any mandated paid vacation time?

  6. Overall, is this good or bad news?

  7. What about U.S. history or the U.S. political system help explain why we are so different in terms of time off from the rest of the wealthy world?

  8. If workers get paid time off, who pays for it?

  9. Do you consider countries like Norway, Germany, or Sweden, all which get over 25 paid days off a year, to be lazy or economically weak countries?

  10. What questions do you have about this chart and information?

  11. Describe the different ways liberals and  conservatives might react to this chart:

  12. In the comments section, Based on paid vacation time, explain which country from this list would you most like to live in:


Learning Extension

You can read the entire report on our non-vacation nation from the Center for Economic and Policy Research


Action Extension

Contact your congressional representative and let them know what you think about the fact that the U.S. is the only economically advanced nation that gets 0 paid vacation time.


Bonus Chart For Absolutely No Good Reason

AP US Government and Politics

Federal Government Spending as share of GDP

AP US Government and Politics

What portion of the GDP did the federal government spend in 2016?

Pew Research Center

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your silly prediction?

  2. Would you be embarrassed to share your prediction with your most special friend?

  3. How surprised are you by the overall portion of the GDP that the federal government spends?

  4. You do know what GDP means, don’t you?

  5. Spending by what other levels of government are not included in this chart?

  6. How do you think this spending level compares to other advanced post-industrial countries like Switzerland, Japan, or New Zealand?

  7. What are two trends in spending you see in the chart?

  8. Explain the cause of one of those trends.

  9. What is a consequence of one of these trends?

  10. Based on the trends in the chart, what portion of GDP do you think the US government will be spending by 2028?

  11. How familiar are most Americans with the data from this chart?

  12. Currently, what is the biggest single expenditure from the US government?

  13. Why do you think that is?

  14. Donald Trump, in his budget outline, has proposed increases in defense spending (very light blue section of chart) and decreases in "other" spending (darkest blue section of chart) for things like the NEA, NASA, and the CPB. Do you support that idea?

  15. If you had to cut any one area of spending in this chart, explain which area it would be.

  16. Which areas in this chart are entitlement or mandatory spending, and cannot be simply cut by a new budget?

  17. Overall, is this chart good or bad news?

  18. What would the framers of the Constitution think about this chart, besides “what the heck is a social security?”

  19. Former Treasury official Peter Fisher once said, the federal government is basically “a gigantic insurance company,” albeit one with “a sideline business in national defense and homeland security.” Based on the data from the chart, does Fisher's assessment seem correct?

Learning Extension

Read this swell new Pew Report putting federal spending in perspective.

Action Extension

Contact the POTUS, or if you're not at Mar-a-Lago, go to his website to share your opinion of US federal spending and what he should do about it!

Visual Extension (at absolutely no additional cost to the federal government)!!!

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Aw, that's adorable.

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothes Extension

Paternity Leave Me Alone

How many total weeks of paid leave is mandated to new parents by the American federal government?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this?

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

  4. Why do you think that the United States, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, is the only one on this chart to offer ZERO mandated paternal leave?

  5. Based only on family leave, would you rather live in a country which offered mandated paternity leave or a country which offered no mandatory parental leave?

  6. Of course, there are also no laws forbidding employers from offering paid parental leave. What kind of people then, get paid parental leave?

  7. What is one consequence of this?

  8. Explain whether you think it is better to leave decisions about parental leave to companies or whether this should be mandated by the government?

  9. What would a libertarian say about this?

  10. Do. you think private companies should be allowed to abuse workers or discriminate against them or should that be regulated by the government?

  11. Because of federalism, do you think that we have similar laws in each state regarding mandated paid parental leave?

  12. Explain whether the data from this chart is good news.

  13. In general, what is American public opinion regarding mandated paid parental leave?*

  14. How much does party identification impact Americans’ views on paternity leave?*

  15. How much does age impact Americans’ views on paternity leave?*

  16. How much does gender and income impact whether Americans actually take parental leave?*

  17. Americans making over $75,000 a year take, on average, TWICE as much paternity leave as Americans making under $30,000 a year. Describe how that impacts the American Dream and Equality of Opportunity.

  18. What about American political culture and values explains why we are the only modern post-industrial (rich) country that does NOT give any mandated paid paternity leave?

  19. What is one positive consequence of not having paid paternal leave?

  20. What is one negative consequence of not having paid paternal leave?

  21. Let’s say you wanted America to have a national policy of mandated paid parental leave. What House or Senate committees might have jurisdiction over this topic?

  22. Let’s say you wanted America to have a national policy of mandated paid parental leave. What interest groups might join you in your fight and how might they partner with you to make this policy happen?

  23. Imagine you wanted to change the rules of paternity leave in the US. What part of the US bureaucracy would be tasked with these sorts of rules?

  24. Explain how US federalism might complicate the issue of a universal paternity leave from the US government?

  25. In the comments section below, explain whether you personally think the US should grant mandated paid leave to mothers or fathers.

Visual Extension

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Learning Extension

Read this article from The Week about how the US ended up with the worst maternity leave laws on earth.

Action Extension

Contact your US Senator and share your opinion about paid paternity leave.

Our World in Data Extension


Our Animals in Clothing Extension

 

Party Conventional Wisdom

The 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC) will be held in Charlotte, NC (whoot, whoot). Over the past century, what U.S. city has been the home to the most political party conventions?

Infographic: Democrats Pick Milwaukee for 2020 National Convention | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista
  1. How accurate was your ridiculous prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this silly map?

  3. In your opinion, what is the most important American city that has never had a convention? (Pro-tip: Orlando is not really that important).

  4. Why do you think Chicago is the city that has had the most conventions? (Windy City- coincidence???? Just Sayin’)!

  5. Why do you think the Democrats are holding their 2020 nominating convention in Wisconsin, a state Obama won in 2008 and 2012?

  6. Why do you think the Republicans are holding their 2020 nominating convention in (whoot! Whoot!) North Carolina (N. Cakalacky)?

  7. Since 2008, what kind of state has hosted every national political convention?*

  8. What explains that trend?

  9. Why do we have national political party conventions, anyway?

  10. And what happens at National Conventions?

  11. Now that you have read, internalized, and memorized Federalist No. 10 and are an expert on James Madison (163 centimeters tall - five foot four inches) and his feelings towards factions, explain what Madison would have thought about party conventions.

  12. If you were the head of the Democratic National Party explain where you would hold the 2024 convention.

  13. If you were the head of the Republican National Party explain where you would hold the 2024 convention. (Pro tip: you’re not).

  14. Based on the silly map above, describe any regional differences in the location of party conventions for the two major parties.

  15. Explain whether you think national nominating conventions increase or decrease democracy.

  16. Explain whether independents get a national party convention?

  17. How are delegates to conventions decided, anyhow?

  18. What is it about Cleveland that the Democratic Party hates so much that they have never had a convention there?????

Visual Extension*

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Learning Extension

Listen to this insane Here and Now report. *Warning: Graphic language. The following NPR report may not be suitable for all listeners.

Action Extension

Did you know that mere mortals like you can attend a national party convention?!?! Contact your favorite political party and ask them what you need to do to attend the 2020 national party convention. You might just be surprised by what you learn. Share their response in class or online.

Our World In Data Extension

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Our Animals in Clothing Extension


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A Totally Random and Unrelated Visual Extension

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States of Execution

AP US GOVernment and Politics

What state has had the most executions since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976?*

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Describe one geographical pattern you see in this map?

  3. What do you think explains that pattern?

  4. What portion of Americans favor the death penalty?

  5. Why do you think that is the case?

  6. How do you think public opinion on the death penalty varies by political party? (see below)

  7. How do you think public opinion on the death penalty varies by Age, race, and gender? (see below)

  8. Do you personally favor the death penalty ?

  9. What trend do you see in the number of executions in the US?

  10. What is one explanation for that trend?

  11. Based on public opinion and the trend in the total number of executions, would you say that the number of executions is based on public opinion on this issue?

  12. Was the death penalty a big issue in the 2016 presidential election?

  13. In Furman v. Georgia in 1972 the supreme court ruled that capital punishment was unconstitutional. Upon what portion of the U.S. Constitution did they base their ruling?

  14. In 1976, in Gregg V. Georgia the Supreme court overturned the precedent set in Furman v. Georgia and ruled the death penalty constitutional, in certain cases. Is the Supreme Court allowed to overturn their own precedent?

  15. If you were opposed to the Gregg V. Georgia decision and wanted to outlaw the death penalty, what legal and constitutional steps could you take to make this happen?

  16. Based on all the data from the chart above, do you imagine the death penalty will be legal in 2020?

  17. How does the use of capital punishment in the U.S. Compare to other countries? (see Below)

  18. What is most surprising about any of this information?

* In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules by a vote of 5-4 that capital punishment, as it is currently employed on the state and federal level, is unconstitutional. The majority held that, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states employed execution in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. It was the first time that the nation’s highest court had ruled against capital punishment. However, because the Supreme Court suggested new legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again, such as the development of standardized guidelines for juries that decide sentences, it was not an outright victory for opponents of the death penalty.

In 1976, with 66 percent of Americans still supporting capital punishment, the Supreme Court acknowledged progress made in jury guidelines and reinstated the death penalty under a “model of guided discretion.”


Learning extension

Read this article in The Economist about the death penalty in the US.


Action Extension

Poll 10 people about whether they favor or oppose the death penalty. Compare your data with general US data from the chart below and explain your opinion of these results in class or online.


Bonus Visuals*

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals In Clothes Extension

The Absolute Worst US State for Women!

What is the worst US state for women?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What criteria do you think Movehub used in determining this ranking?*

  4. What would be the most important criterion for you, personally, in deciding what state was best for women?

  5. How much choice do most people have in what state they live in?

  6. How Much choice do you have about where you live?

  7. How did your state rank in terms of the status of women?

  8. Why do you think that is?

  9. Do you see any geographic patterns in this map?

  10. What do you think explains those patterns?

  11. Explain the connection between this map & federalism.

  12. If we lived in a unitary system, what color would all the states be?

  13. What policy position could Oklahoma take that would improve it as a place for women to live?

  14. Given that Oklahoma is one of the most conservative states in America, how likely is it that they will implement policies making life better for women?

  15. Describe how Conservatives and Liberals would disagree about the role the government should take in making life more equal between men and women.

  16. If you overlaid the chart above with a map of the states won by Trump and Clinton in the 2016 Presidential mud wrestling match/election (see below)* how would the two compare?

  17. If you were a poor woman in Oklahoma and saw these rankings and thought, "My goodness, I need to move to Hawaii or Vermont right now!" What is the percent chance that you could just do that?

  18. Do you think Oklahoma is proud of being the worst state for women?

  19. How do you think the female representation in the legislature and government compares between Hawaii and Oklahoma? (See map below)*

  20. If you made a map of the best and worst COUNTRIES for women, what do you think the top 5 and the bottom five would be?*


Learning Extension

Read the Movehub article about how they ranked the states.*


Action Extension

Find out how your state ranks. Contact your state's governor, congratulate them/embarrass them about their ranking, and offer them one suggestion about how to improve/maintain their ranking.


VISUAL EXTENSION

Global rankings of best and worst places to be a mother.**

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Our World in Data Extension

Midterm Election Costs

For the current midterm election, has more money been raised for U.S. Senate or U.S. House races?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprising is the data?

  3. Why do you think more money has been raised on House than Senate races?

  4. What portion of House seats are up for election this year?

  5. What portion of Senate seats are up for election this year?

  6. Why do you think there is so much money in elections?

  7. What are two consequences of all this money in elections?

  8. Explain whether the data in this chart is good news.

  9. In the 2016 U.S. House elections, only 6 out of 435 House seats were won by the candidate who spent LESS than their opponent. Why do you think that is?

  10. Based on the data in the chart, do you think that Republicans or Democrats will win more races?

  11. Overall, does more money come from PACs or from Individuals?

  12. Over a billion dollars have been raised for the 2018 House races. How do you feel about that?

  13. The Federal Election Commission tracks most of the money raised in elections. Explain whether the almost 2 billion dollars raised so far for the 2016 election makes the American political system more or less democratic.

  14. In some countries there are limits on how much money a candidate can spend, limits on how long elections can last, and lots of public funding for elections. Explain whether you think there should be limits on how much money a candidate can spend.

  15. How does all this money impact American politics?

  16. How does all this money impact you?


Learning Extension

Check out the Open Secrets campaign spending website from the Center for Responsive Politics.


Action Extension

Share the most interesting thing you learned about campaign financing from Open Secrets in class or online.


Cord Extension

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Animal Extension

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Voter Turnout of this World

over the past four years, What has happened to primary election voting turnout ?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the data tell?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. What is a consequence of this?

  5. How does voter turnout between Republicans and Democrats compare?

  6. Why do you think that is?

  7. What impact do you think this difference will have on the 2018 midterm elections?

  8. Primary election voter turnout is way up, but overall, how would you characterize a turnout rate of 19.6% in U.S. House primary elections?

  9. When so few people vote, who wins?

  10. Who loses?

  11. Why do so few people vote?

  12. Describe some barriers to voting?

  13. Do most other democracies have primary elections?*

  14. Predict how you think the 2018 midterm election will end up?

  15. Read this totally amazing list of 11 ways to increase voter turnout and share your favorite one in the comments section below.

    *Nope

Visual Extension

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Learning Extension

Read this totally banned and explicit article on midterm voter turnout trends from the Pew Research Center.

Action Extension

Did you know that you can help turnout the vote? You can work for either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party or neither party to help get out the vote. That’s right! Get out the vote, and share your experience in class or online.

Ladder Extension

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Insane animal extension

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In Social media we trust

What percent of American adults think that the news they get on social media is trustworthy?

  1. What is wrong with those people?

  2. How accurate was your prediction?

  3. What story does the data tell?

  4. Based on the data, how much trust would you say Americans have in the media in general?

  5. How surprising is that?

  6. What trend do you see in trust in the media over the past three years?

  7. If you asked these same questions about the media (there was no social media then) in 1950 explain how different you think the answer would be.

  8. If you asked these same questions about the media (there may be no families and friends then) in 20 years explain how different you think the answer would be.

  9. Do you think that the news you get on social media is trustworthy?

  10. How much information do you get from social media anyway?

  11. Explain to me why Americans trust local news more than their friends and family, And why they don’t get some new friends.

  12. What percent of American teens think that the news they get on social media is trustworthy?

  13. How do you think this data impacts the American political system today?

  14. Seriously, does it shock you that over 1/3 of Americans trust the news they see on social media?

  15. Explain how this information has impacted how Donald Trump ran for office and how he rules today.

  16. Did you get that emergency alert from the president Yesterday? Pretty cool or pretty scary?

  17. How do you think answers to these questions differ by political party affiliation?

  18. How do you think American politics would change if the government outlawed news on social media (I know, I know, that would be a violation of the first amendment, just play along with me for the sake of argument)?

Visual Extension

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Hair Extension

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Learning Extension

Read this Pew Research report on the changing media landscape.

Action Extension

Go for two days without any news from social media and see how that impacts your knowledge and understanding of what’s going on. Share your experience and analysis in class or on (ironic) social media.




Ridiculous Animal Extension

(Yes, these are real, and there are more to come!)

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