The Price of Power

Happy Constitution Day!

How often does the top spending candidate win their race for the U.S. House of Representatives?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. In 2016, how often did the candidate running for congress who spent less than their opponent win?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is the most important consequence of that story?

  6. Is this story good news for American democracy?

  7. For whom is this good news?

  8. Explain whether the information from the chart above makes it more or less likely that you would run for office in the U.S. Congress one day.

  9. Based on the data from the chart above, make a claim about money and politics in the U.S.

  10. What did the U.S. Constitution say about money in politics?

  11. Based on the data from this chart, when we say,”House of Representatives,” What is the House representative of?

  12. What question do you have about this data?

  13. Respond to this argument a student named Brett made. “The top speding canidate should win the race, because the best candidate will get the most money, so we are just electing the best candidate.”

  14. Respond to the argument made by A student named Bjork who said, “We have a government by the rich, for the rich, and of the rich.”

  15. Explain whether the data in the chart moves the United States more towards democracy or towards plutocracy?

  16. Let’s say that a group of Americans wanted to do something to make the highest spender less likely to win election. What is one action they could take?

  17. What would a typical American liberal say about this chart?

  18. Explain whether the U.S. Congress is likely to pass a law making the highest spender in an election less likely to win.

  19. In general, which costs more a U.S. House seat or a U.S. Senate seat?*

  20. Describe what has happened to the cost of seats in the U.S. congress over the past 40 years.*

  21. Why is that?*

  22. So????? *

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Read 10 Things Every Voter Should Know.


Action Extension

Register to vote before it’s too late. If you are already registered or ineligible to vote, help register someone who is eligible to vote.

Happy Constitution Day!

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MediaOTUS

These are the 10 largest media markets (metropolitan area) listed by Nielsen.

  • New York (#1)

  • Los Angeles (#2)

  • Chicago (#3)

  • Philadelphia (#4)

  • Dallas-Fort Worth (#5)

  • Washington, D.C. (#6)

  • Houston (#7)

  • San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose (#8)

  • Boston (#9)

  • Atlanta (#10)

What American media market had the most ads in the 2016 presidential election?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprising is this information?

  3. Were any of these top presidential ad media markets in the top ten biggest media markets in the United States?

  4. Based on the data in the chart make a claim about media markets and presidential campaigns.

  5. Explain why the biggest spending in the presidential campaign happened in media markets, none of which are among the top ten biggest media markets in America.

  6. What political science term do we use to describe American states that are very evenly split in terms of political party affiliation?

  7. What is a consequence of all this ad spending happening in these particular media markets?

  8. Imagine you were the campaign manager for the Donald Trump 2020 presidential election campaign make a claim about why spending in top markets like New York (#1), Los Angeles (#2), or Chicago (#3) would be a waste of money.

  9. In the 2016 elections, U.S. House campaigns spent $971,524,520, and U.S. Senate campaigns spent $674,985,540. Using your knowledge of American politics, explain why more money was spent on U.S. House races than on U.S. Senate races.

  10. Explain whether you think Senate or House campaigns are more likely to spend money in the top ten media markets?

  11. The other day, a GoPo student we shall call Rudolph said, “advertising doesn’t really help campaigns. Democrats vote for Democrats and Republicans vote for Republicans. Respond to Rudolph’s claim using your inside voice.

  12. In 2010, Citizens United v. FEC ruled that limits on political advertising were violations of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. How has that ruling impacted American politics?

  13. Let’s say you didn’t like the Citizens United ruling. What political action could you take to try to limit its impact?

  14. Many democratic countries limit the amount of spending, veracity of content, and timing of political ads. Make a claim about whether the U.S. should place more limits on political spending?

  15. How would banning political ads impact political campaigns and their results?

  16. In general, what do Americans think about political ads?*

  17. Of the following mediums (formats) which had the biggest spending in the 2016 election: newspaper, digital, broadcast TV, radio, cable TV, out of Home (whatever that means)?*

  18. What has happened to the rate of digital ad spending over the past 12 years?*

*Visual Extension

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Learning Extension

Read about the most expensive races in the 2018 election.

Action Extension

Make an advertisement (this could be a script, storyboard, digital image) for your favorite 2020 presidential candidate and share it in class or online.

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Ban the Ban

Between 1994-2004 there was a ban on assault weapons in the United States. What do you think happened to the number of gun massacres and fatalities during the time of the ban?

AP US Government and Politics

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. List one question you have about this data:

  3. What is the big story this data tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one consequence of the fact that we since 2004 we have not had a ban on assault weapons?

  6. If you were to fill in the chart for gun massacres and fatalities from 2014-2024, what do you imagine the numbers would look like so far?

  7. Based on the data in the charts alone, do you think that an updated assault weapon ban would make America safer?

  8. The Preamble To The U.S. Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Regarding gun violence, would it be fair to say that our government is insuring tranquility, providing defence (that’s how they spelled defense back in the olden days, yo!), and promoting welfare?

  9. Let’s say you are the POTUS. What actions could the executive branch of the U.S. Government take regarding guns?

  10. What actions could the legislative branch of the U.S. Government take regarding guns?

  11. What could the judicial branch do about those actions?

  12. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In your reading and understanding of this Amendment, can the U.S. government regulate, restrict, or ban guns or ammunition?

  13. In the Supreme Court’s reading and understanding of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and through its ruling in McDonald v. Chicago (2010), can the U.S. government regulate, restrict, or ban guns or ammunition?

  14. In your opinion, explain whether the U.S. government may regulate, restrict, or ban individual ownership of SAMS (surface to air missiles).

  15. One argument about guns goes like this: if you ban assault weapons eventually you will ban shotguns and when you ban shotguns, eventually you will ban handguns, and when you ban handguns eventually people will no longer be free. This is called a slippery-slope argument. What do you think of this specific argument?

  16. Imagine that the Supreme Court invalidated any executive or legislative attempts to limit guns. What legal recourse could be taken to try to ban guns?

  17. Explain whether it is likely that we will Amend the Constitution to repeal the Second Amendment.

  18. Walmart asked customers to refrain from openly carrying firearms in its stores, and also announced it would no longer sell certain ammunition, including bullets for handguns and assault-style rifles – joined a growing list of national chains that have taken action to minimize the presence of firearms at their stores. This decision is legal, but is it a good decision? Make a claim about Walmart’s decision.

  19. Explain whether people who live in countries like Canada, Australia, Japan, or Iceland which have strict gun regulations and dramatically less gun violence than the United States are less free than Americans.*

  20. Do you think that video gaming is a major cause of gun violence in the US?*

*Visual Extension

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Action Extension

Contact your federal legislator or POTUS and share your opinion on an assault weapon ban.

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Make Perception Great Again

AP U.S. Government and Politics

The average American thinks that over 40% of the population is foreign born. What percentage of the current U.S. population is actually foreign born? 

AP US Government and Politics

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does this stupid chart tell?

  3. How accurate is the average American's prediction?

  4. What are two reasons that explain such a big difference between reality and perception regarding immigrants?

  5. So???? What is a consequence of this difference between reality and perception?

  6. If the average American knew that about 10% of our population was foreign born, what is one government policy that might change?

  7. If the average American knew that about 10% of our population was foreign born, how do you think public opinion towards the Trump administration might change?

  8. Above all, what institutions are responsible for creating U.S. immigration policy?

  9. Above all, what institutions are responsible for enforcing U.S. immigration policy?

  10. How does American perception of immigration compare to that of other countries?

  11. What do you think accounts for this difference?

  12. What are some other policy areas where American perception and reality are equally divergent?

  13. What do you think Donald Trump would have to say about this information?

  14. Why do you think that about 10% of our population is foreign born, and how do you think this compares to U.S. historical levels of immigration?

  15. How do you think demographics and party affiliation impact the perception of foreign born population?

  16. Imagine that you wanted to reduce the % of foreign born population in the U.S. What is one thing the government could do?

Learning Extension

Listen to this groovy NPR report: How America's Idea of Illegal Immigration Doesn't Always Match Reality

Action Extension

Contact your Congressperson and share your opinion about the percentage of U.S. population that is foreign born, and one suggestion of what they could do about it.

Visual Learning Extension

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Precious animal in a top hat and monocle extension

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Mike Drop

Are there more Johns and Mikes or more female members of the House GOP (Republican Party)?

  1. What story does the chart tell?

  2. Explain why that is the case.

  3. Because of the data from the chart, explain one consequence on American politics.

  4. Is this good news?

  5. Does this information surprise you?

  6. List one question you have about this data:

  7. 50% of Americans are female. 23% of Congress is female. Imagine that 50% of the House was female. Consider how that would that change American public policy. Describe three specific policies that would impact.

  8. Explain whether you personally think that would be a good change.

  9. 50% of Americans are female. 23% of Congress is female. List the top three reasons for this lack of gender parity:

  10. How different do you imagine this data will be in 40 years (if there is a Congress in 40 years)?

  11. How different do you predict this data was 100 years ago?

  12. How do you think the number of Johns or Mikes compares to the number of female House members of the Democratic Party?*

  13. What about the demographic (race,age, gender, religion, etc.) makeup and ideological (beliefs and values) makeup of the two major US parties explains this difference?

  14. A student of mine once asked, in exasperation, “How could any woman be a Republican?” How would you answer her question?

  15. Based on the terms lengths and the way members of the House and the Senate are elected, explain whether the Senate or the House is more male or female?*

  16. In the comments section below list the first year you believe the U.S. Congress will achieve gender parity and be 50% female:

*Visual Extension

*There are 7 Democratic House Members named John or Mike. Believe me, I read the entire list.

*Fun Fact-The following House members first names are real:

Learning Extension

Read more about all the Republican and Democratic women in the U.S. House from the Center For American Women and Politics

Action Extension

Find out how many women, Mikes, and Johns represent your state in the U.S. House of Representatives. Share your answer in class or online.

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