Benjamin Ginsberg, Theodore Lowi, Margaret Weir, Caroline Tolbert, & Robert Spitzer. 2015. We the People (10th Essentials Ed.). WW Norton. (denoted GLWCTS in the readings)
Ken Kolman, 2014. Readings in American Politics: Analysis and Perspectives. 3rd ed. WW Norton.
The purpose of this assignment is to explore your own political beliefs, applying the course readings and lectures, to explain why you are a Democrat, Republican, Anarchist, Libertarian or whatever. The emphasis of your paper should be on analytical explanation. Your essay should reflect familiarity and understanding of the readings relating to partisan identification and party strength.
Your paper should address the following points.
1. Explain why you are a Democrat, Republican, Anarchist, Libertarian, Socialist or whatever. Your essay should consider how these factors affecting partisan identification—as they pertain to your personal party identification.
Demographic factors: race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual preference.
Socialization factors (family political beliefs; educational background, peer groups—explain the influence have these sources had on your beliefs)
Socio-economic factors: income, class (upper, upper-middle, middle, lower-middle, poor working class, etc.).
The influence of candidate/party images on your thinking
The influence of current issues on your thinking about your policy preferences (but you must explain why you hold these views)
Think about how you may be cross-pressured by these various forces/factors operating in your life, and link these to your political identification. For example, if you are from a wealthy family, the normal influence would lean you toward the Republican Party. But if you are also a minority, this may lead you to lean toward the Democratic Party. The combination of both factors likely lead you to be less loyal to either party.
Do not feel intimidated by this project, in the sense that you need not be worried what I will think of you. I really don’t care what you believe. I do care that you realize what you believe and why. That is the purpose of the assignment. This is an task of reflection and application of the readings.
A couple of points about this paper.
One, the length is open but a reasonable average would be in the range of 4 to 6 pages. I have received papers as long as 11 for this assignment. The point is to convince me that you know which party you see yourself as closer to, and that you can explain why!
The big thing is to explain why — you — given your family background, socio-economic, demographic (race, gender, age), religion, geography (urban/rural/suburband, but also region), and experiences lead to you to consider yourself to be a strong Democrat, weak Democrat, independent who leans toward the Democratic party, a pure independent, an independent who leans toward the Republican Party, a weak Republican, or a strong Republican. You can talk about your family, socialization experiences, educational experiences, peer influences, or life experiences as well.
Recognize that different socioeconomic groups tend to align with different political parties, largely as a perception that their preferred party better serves the interests of the groups they identify with.
If you don’t know much about partisanship and the book doesn’t seem to help you as much you would like, you could look at this research report on partisanship:
You could — as part of the assignment, take an on-line partisanship quiz to help. This does not substitute for other readings, but is an additional thing that might help you in determining your partisanship if you don’t already know. The PEW research center has a pretty good one that is multi-faceted.
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