Introduction to American Politics and Government
For each web assignment, please write a short response paper that answers
Required Web Assignment #1, Constitutional
This exercise is intended to encourage you to read the
Constitution very closely.Answer all the questions,
print out your answers, and bring them to class.Make
sure you cite the article and section of the Constitution where you found
- Where must bills for raising revenue originate?
- Of the enumerated powers granted to Congress
in Article I, Section 8, how many would you classify as economic/commercial
(think designed to promote or faciliate trade or business), political, military,
- The original Constitution explicitly mentions
only 1 “Right”. What is it?
- What is the constitutional criteria for
removing a president from office?
- Does the Constitution give the Supreme
Court the power of judicial review?
- What do Article I, Section 10, Article
VI and Amendment X state about the relationship of the federal government
and the states?
- How is the president chosen? How are electors chosen?
- The original Constitution addresses slavery
in three specific sections, how they count for purpose of representation,
the importation of slaves, and the return of escaped slaves. What did the Constitution say about each of these
issues? What are the exact words the Constitution
uses to identify slaves in each of these sections (This is trickier than
it sounds since the words “slaves” and “slavery” are not mentioned in the
- What does the Constitution or any of its
amendments say about income taxes?
- Can a person who has engaged in insurrection
or rebellion against the United States be elected as a Senator or Representative
in Congress or hold any office in the federal or state government? How is such a disability removed? Any
ideas why Congress passed this amendment?
- Which groups or individuals have gained
the right to vote via an amendment to the Constitution? Cite
the specific group, amendment, and year it passed.
- What section of the Constitution states
that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit
- In reading the Constitution, was there
anything you came across that you did not know about before?
Web Assignment #2, Finding
You have 2 options for finding media bias.
Option 1:The Media Watchdogs Assignment
Take a look at the two watchdog
groups. One of them claims that there is a left-wing bias in the media and
the other one claims there is a right-wing bias. Which side has a more convincing
argument? Which one of the groups do you agree with and why? Is it possible
that they both make valid arguments?Have the watchdog
sites influenced the way you view the sites of the mainstream media?
http://www.aim.orgAccuracy in Media, a conservative media watchdog group.
Go to the News/Publications section and click on AIM Report.
http://www.fair.org/Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. A national liberal
watchdog group detailing media bias and censorship; this is primarily a site
full of FAIR’s own reports and magazine.Go to the EXTRA!
Section and click on one of the news articles that looks interesting.
Option 2: "The Deliberately Biased Media." No doubt you’ve
heard charges of bias in the media. Why not examine how intentionally ‘biased’
media write about the world. Select an article or editorial in both Mother
Jones or The Nation and The National Review (if possible, on the same subject).
Briefly summarize the article and react to it. Now, pick an article from
the mainstream press for comparison. Do you see differences in news coverage
between the ideological press and the mainstream media? Explain.
The Nation is arguably America’s premier Left Wing Magazine.
It includes left (not liberal) perspectives on politics
and current affairs.
The National Review Online—America’s Conservative Magazine.
Web Assignment #3 Congress as a Representative
In “The Electoral Connection”, David Mayhew offers
a pretty specific set of guidelines to incumbent members of Congress on how
to ensure their reelection (advertising, credit claiming, and position taking).
The question is, do representatives actually do these things?
To find out, I want you to go to the House of Representatives web site http://www.house.gov/
and click on members’
This will list all the representatives by name.
Clicking on a name takes you to the representatives’
Different representatives will have very different
web pages, but look around for instances of advertising, credit claiming,
and position taking.
Good places to look are the press
gallery or press release section, constituents pages, photo gallery, constituent
I think you will find it pretty fun
In your response paper,
1. Choose two representatives from different parties and different
parts of the country and compare their web pages.
2. Does each representative engage in advertising, credit claiming,
and position taking? Provide examples of each.
3. Can you tell what party the representative is from based on their
4. What is your impression of each representative from the web page?
What comes first, their district or public policy?
Assignment #4- The Democratic Primary
The purpose of this assignment is for you to get an understanding of how
our presidential nomination process works. Since Republicans already
have their candidate, we will focus on the Democratic primary.
1. Select a Democratic Candidate. Either pick one you
are interested in or go to SelectSmart.com answer
the list of nearly 20 questions, click the button, and
the site will identify which of the 2004 candidates you
agree with the most. Project
Vote Smart: Presidential Election 2004 This
site provided a great directory of the 2000 candidates
-- with basic biographical information, issue survey responses,
calendar and links -- and is now doing the same for 2004.
Candidates for President
2. Go to your candidate's web site.
What are their key issues? Why do they want you to support their candidacy?
What kind of Democrat are they? What is their campaign strategy?
Are their ideas "fresh and exciting"? Do they give you ideas
for how you can participate in the campaign? It is also worth looking
at Slate's Campaign 2004 Field Guide which
has several series of short features explaining who the 2004 presidential
candidates are, what they're saying, and where they propose to take the country,
to get an outside perspective.
3. How is your candidate doing? Check out these sites
What are the barometers or measures journalists and others observers use
to identify who is doing well?
How is your candidate doing according to journalists?
Does this seem like a good way to choose a president?
- A cooperative site from NH.com and the Nashua Telegraph.
Think of this as a one-stop site for keeping up with
all the latest developments in the important New Hampshire
The New Republic Primary
Wire 2004 Campaign Archives
4. Will your candidate get the nomination? Check out the Iowa Presidential
Nomination Market where you can purchase shares/bet on which Democratic
candidate you think will win the nomination. It has proven in the past to
be a fairly accurate predictor of who will win.
5. Want More? Check out C-Span's Road
to the White House covering the various Presidential
candidates. Constantly updated.
Web Assignment #10, The President in Action
these two pages suggestion about the imperial presidency?
- How does the
president’s presentation of self compare with the individual members’ of
Congress on their web pages. What would Greenstein say
about W's presentation of self?
- Next go to the press releases and
briefings in the briefing room, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/briefings/ What issues is the president or his assistants
talking about? What does this page suggest about
the importance of the media to the modern day presidency?
- Next go the Your Government
and look at the Executive
Office of the President section. Check
out the various offices, especially the Office of Management and Budget.
The two areas to examine within OMB are the
- Statements of Administration Policy
(on lower right part of web page)
- Office of Information
and Regulatory Affairs, Regulatory Matters.
4. Email the Administration using one of the three options:
President George W. Bush: email@example.com
Vice President Richard Cheney: firstname.lastname@example.org
White House Web Mail