Labor Day, the unofficial transition to full-swing presidential campaigning, is almost here. Before we delve into general election strategies, we need to cover party platforms.
This week, the challenge is to get your homeschool students to look further into important issues of the day be examining party platforms. Keep reading for more information and a free worksheet.
Convention delegates gave the 2016 platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties the stamp of approval at the conventions in July. Party platforms spell out the goals and values of the party. They state what the party believes about the important issues of the day.
I (Jill) think reading party platforms is a useful exercise. When I was writing my book on first ladies, they were the first place I would turn to get a sense of what was important to the people and parties operating during historical moments in time.
However, most election years, platforms do not get very much attention. They are long and a little dry. Many believe they don't really matter. But this year, we heard much more about them than in years past.
Donald Trump won the nomination even though he did not trumpet typical Republican issues. And Hillary Clinton's primary rival, Bernie Sanders, rounded up a mass following by calling for an even bigger role for the government than was typical for Democrats. In other words, Trump and Clinton were not always in synch with their parties.
The platforms all of a sudden became interesting because many did not know what they would say about important issues like abortion, college affordability, health care, and trade. But since platforms have the potential to shape public policy--what the government does to solve public problems--they are worth investigating.
This week, help your homeschool student gain insight into important issues through a closer look at party platforms.
Weekly Challenge: Platforms and Issues
1. Access the 2016 Republican platform and Democratic platform.
2. Download the free printable worksheet.
3. Have students spend five minutes thinking about what they believe is the most important issue facing our country today. (If students do not know, here are some ideas: abortion, health care, jobs, college affordability, gun violence, pollution, terrorism, Russia, criminal justice, and so on).
Note the issue on the worksheet provided.
3. Browse the party platforms to find out what the Republican and Democratic parties believe about those issues and what they say they will do about those issues. (Hint: Don't read the platforms word-for-word. Rather, skim the documents or consult the table of contents for the portions relevant to the issues).
4. Note the major points in the columns provided.
5. Repeat for as many issues as you would like.
And for even more information on platforms and issues, consider adopting our Presidential Elections unit study: available here.
Click here to download the free printable worksheet below.