Presidential Campaigns During Times of Crisis: Learn History, Take Comfort, and Find Inspiration for Your Homeschool
This present coronavirus crisis is new territory for homeschooling families. Together, we’re learning how to calm fears, ease nerves, and make sense of all that is happening.
It’s important for our families to know that this isn’t the first crisis that America has ever been through. It’s also not the first crisis that we’ve endured during an election season. Our country has seen many challenges, even greater than this one.
Learning about history can give us comfort and perspective. Crises come, and crises go. Yet, elections have happened. The rule of law has prevailed. Our country has persevered. Our leaders have inspired the people in the midst of challenges.
At Silverdale Press, we want to equip your homeschool family to study the election, including the history of presidential campaigns and elections. Our Presidential Election Unit Study 2020 for your homeschool is filled with history. You’ll learn about the history of campaigns and elections during both times of crisis and times of peace.
Did you get our free lesson on the primaries? This year’s primary season has been disrupted in unprecedented ways. This is the perfect time to learn more about the primaries with your family, as you’re hunkered down at home. Don’t wait! Get your copy today.
In this newsletter, we give you a mini lesson on presidential campaigns during times of crisis. Keep reading for key terms and an activity you can do with your homeschool family today. The activity will keep you busy, entertained, and learning history as you are hunkered down at home.
1. Abraham Lincoln versus George McClellan in 1864
It is hard to imagine a more difficult time for America than 1864. The country was nearing the end of a brutal and devastating civil war, through which Lincoln vowed to preserve the Union and enforce America’s laws. The war took the lives of 600,000 Americans.
It was nothing short of a miracle that the election of 1864 even happened. The crisis of war was so serious, people talked about postponing the election. But in the end, the election was held, even though Lincoln thought he would lose.
Abraham Lincoln was the incumbent (the person running for office who already holds the position). He ran against George McClellan, former commander of the Union forces. Lincoln had fired McClellan for not pursuing the Confederate army after the devastating battle at Antietam. He was also up against people in his own party, known as Radical Republicans, who thought he wouldn’t do enough to fight for the political rights of newly freed slaves.
In the election, Lincoln carried all but three of the participating states and won 212 Electoral College votes out of 233. (The Electoral College is the body of people representing the states who formally cast votes for the president and vice president). This was a huge sign that Americans had confidence in Lincoln.
When Lincoln took the stage at his second inauguration (the formal admission of the new president to office), he spoke these words:
“Fondly we do hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two-hundred-and-fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid with another drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”
Lincoln asked his fellow countrymen to carry on in the struggle. “With malice to none, with charity to all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.”
2. Herbert Hoover versus Franklin Roosevelt in 1932
During the 1932 campaign season, Americans were enduring another crisis. The Great Depression began just seven months after Herbert Hoover became president. Hoover had been known as the Great Engineer, because of his brilliant career in mining and business and as “Food Czar” during the Great War.
As brilliant as he was, Hoover wasn’t able to fix the growing number of Americans who were out of work and short on food. More than 11,000 banks had failed, destroying Americans’ savings. “Hoovervilles,” clusters of dirty shacks where the poorest now lived, had sprung up all over the country. Turned-out pockets of men’s trousers stood for “Hoover Flags,” as they waited in bread lines. The national mood had soured.
In 1932, Hoover ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt. One magazine called the election a choice between the “great glum engineer” and “the laughing boy.” Roosevelt was called “the laughing boy” because he ran an optimistic campaign. He flashed a big smile to crowds whenever he could. He flew to the Democratic convention in Chicago to proclaim, “a new deal for the American people.” The crowd of delegates (the people who select the nominee at party conventions) wildly cheered him. Franklin Roosevelt carried the election in a landslide, taking the Electoral College by 472 votes to Hoover’s 59.
When Roosevelt took the stage at his first inauguration, he said this:
“Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”
3. Jimmy Carter versus Ronald Reagan in 1980
As in 1932, the 1980 presidential campaign pitted an optimist against a pessimist. Ronald Reagan showed voters an optimistic temperament when he ran against President Jimmy Carter. But, like Hoover, Carter had grown pessimistic and defensive. The economy was already shaky when Carter took office. Inflation was high. People were paying more for everything from gasoline to sugar. Industries sat idle. Iran held fifty-two American citizens hostage. Carter tried but, in the end, could not get Iran to release the hostages.
Reagan came across as relaxed and confident in the presidential debates. In his closing remarks, he asked Americans to make their decision based on Carter’s record. “Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was?” For voters who answered “no,” Reagan was their choice.
Reagan won in a landslide. He won 489 Electoral College votes to Carter’s 49.
When he took the stage to speak at his first inauguration, he said these words:
“It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.”
Learn history. Take comfort. Find inspiration. Get your copy of the Presidential Election Unit Study 2020 today! It’s perfect for homeschool families and co-ops.
Have you hit the point in the school year when planning for next year is more fun that finishing the current one? Have the doldrums set in? Do you have to dig deep to find the motivation to get through just one more day?
When we hit that point in the homeschool year, it helps to remind ourselves of the higher purposes of homeschooling. Homeschooling isn’t easy. It’s a sacrifice. It takes determination and a true belief that this is the best thing for our children.
As homeschool parents, we have the tremendous opportunity to shape who our children become, to instill within them habits and character. One of these habits and character qualities is citizenship, or the informed and active membership in a political community. We hope one of your homeschooling higher purposes is to instill within your children this ideal, put forth by the ancient Greeks, of enlightened engagement in our communities.
In this edition of the newsletter, we give you three important reasons to study the presidential election in your homeschool. As parents, it is our job to prepare our children to become citizens.
Did you get our free lesson on the primaries? The primaries can be hard for parents to explain to their children. We are in the middle of the primary season right now, so this is the perfect opportunity to learn about them. Also check out our newsletter mini lessons on the primary calendar, Rose Garden strategy, and election changes because of coronavirus.
1. Prepare your children to become voters
For most Americans, voting is the most important thing we do as citizens. It is also the most common way people participate. The right to vote is a pretty amazing thing. Not everybody had it at first, and in our Presidential Election Unit Study 2020, we look at how the right to vote was given to more and more people over the course of history.
The right to vote gives ordinary Americans a voice in politics. Each vote has equal value; nobody’s vote is worth more than his neighbor’s.
Voting is important because it chooses the people who make the laws that we must follow. We, the people, must exercise the right to vote. And we, homeschool moms and dads, must prepare our kids to become voters.
Consider these quotes from real life young adults about why they have chosen not to register or vote:
There are lies in these words. While our kids are still young and under our care, it is our job to dispel these lies. It is our job to teach them that their votes do matter. It is our job to teach them that their votes can change things. It is our job to teach them to express their beliefs and values by voting.
Behind these lies, what is missing are parents who prepared their children to become voters.
2. Ensure your children will vote as young adults
As parents, it is our job to make sure our kids vote as young adults, to make sure they have a say in who makes the laws we all have to follow. Young Americans, ages 18-24, have the lowest rates of turnout. They are the least likely people in all of America to vote. Only around 40% of people in this age group have turned out to vote in recent years. This is tragic Why is this?
Read these quotes from real-life young adults:
Here we see excuses. Young people often don’t own homes, and they don’t pay property taxes. So, they are less aware than older people how government affects their everyday lives. It is our job as parents to teach them that sacrificing a small amount of time to register and vote is important.
3. Instill knowledge in your children
Young Americans also don’t vote because they feel they don’t know enough. Read these quotes from real-life young adults:
Many young Americans don’t feel they know enough. They don’t know the issues. They don’t know about the candidates and parties. They don’t know how the Electoral College works. They don’t know enough to understand and, therefore, participate in the debates going on around them. While not knowing enough is not an excuse for not voting, we as homeschool parents can ensure they are equipped with knowledge, the foundation of enlightened citizenship that the ancient Greeks believed was so important.
Knowledge is a key ingredient for citizenship and voting. Democracy works best when the people are informed and have the knowledge to participate in political debate. It is important to know the rules that govern our elected leaders. It is important to know the principles and values on which our governing system is based. It is important they know the stakes in policy debates.
Many people and things, such as friends and the internet, can instill knowledge. But it is really our job as parents to do this.
At Silverdale Press, we want to equip homeschool parents to prepare their children to become voters. Our Presidential Election Unit Study 2020 for homeschools and co-ops gives you everything you need to instill within your children the knowledge and values of citizenship. Click here to buy now or download our free lesson on the primaries.
The stakes are important.
We hope and pray that your homeschool is safe and even thriving during this time of crisis and uncertainty. In this newsletter, we provide you with some resources for studying the presidential election in this extraordinary time. This week, we’ll be looking at the Rose Garden strategy, happening now. The Rose Garden strategy is especially important in times of crisis.
If you haven’t already, check out our new Presidential Election Unit Study 2020. It’s perfect for your homeschool or co-op. Download our free lesson on the presidential primaries. We are in the middle of the presidential primary season right now, so this is a great opportunity to make learning come alive. Though the campaign season has been disrupted—events canceled, elections pushed back, and conventions postponed—the season is still filled with learning opportunities.
1. What is the White House Rose Garden?
Before we learn about the Rose Garden campaign strategy, you need to know about the White House Rose Garden. The White House Rose Garden is a garden, of course. More important is its location. It borders the Oval Office, where the president works, and the West Wing, where the Oval Office is located and the president’s staff work. It is about 125 feet long and 60 feet wide. Ever since John F. Kennedy was president, roses have been the featured flowering plant in the garden, though many other flowers bloom throughout the seasons.
The Rose Garden is used for ceremonies and events. Presidents hold news conferences in the Rose Garden. They make important announcements about laws and policies from the Rose Garden. In short, the Rose Garden is a beautiful, historic, weighty backdrop for governing—and campaigning.
2. What is the Rose Garden strategy?
The Rose Garden strategy is a re-election strategy that only incumbent presidents can use, when they are running for re-election. An incumbent is the person who has held the office before. So, the Rose Garden strategy is an important strategy in 2020, when an incumbent president is running for re-election. But it was not an important strategy in 2016, because an incumbent was not running.
The Rose Garden strategy refers to staying inside the grounds of the White House, taking care of the business of governing, instead of traveling around the country on the campaign trail—meeting and greeting citizens, speaking at rallies.
Of course, the Rose Garden is not the only place from within the White House that a president wages a campaign. The president also speaks from a podium in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, a workspace for the media in the first floor West Wing corridor. On really important occasions, the president also sometimes speaks to the nation from behind the desk in the Oval Office.
Though presidential speeches may be given in different locations, they all count as the Rose Garden strategy.
By focusing on events in the White House, presidents can capture the grandeur and prestige of their office. They can look presidential. They can use the White House as a dramatic backdrop. They can capture a large audience because the media will cover events and even air them live.
3. Rose Garden Strategy in History and Crisis
The Rose Garden strategy has been important in the history of presidential elections. But it has been especially important in times of crisis. In times of crisis, it is important for presidents to be in the White House, responding to the crisis by exercising presidential powers. As a campaign strategy, this can pay dividends. Presidents can stay in front of voters. And voters will listen because they are anxious. Presidents can be the star of the show, the nerve center of leadership for the nation.
In 1976, candidate Jimmy Carter accused President Gerald Ford of using the Rose Garden strategy to get himself free press coverage. For example, in October of 1976, President Ford invited Queen Elizabeth II to a White House celebration to mark America’s bicentennial. The Queen’s visit got loads of positive attention, though Ford ended up losing to Carter in the end.
But in 1980, President Jimmy Carter used the Rose Garden strategy when he was running for re-election. America was in the middle of the Iran hostage crisis. This was a standoff between the U.S. and Iran, after a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. In April of 1980, Carter ordered the military to attempt a rescue mission, which failed. The constant media coverage of the hostage crisis was not a positive backdrop for Carter’s reelection. He couldn’t resolve the crisis, he didn’t much go out on campaign trail, and his Rose Garden strategy backfired. The hostages were released as soon as Ronald Reagan took the oath of office on January 21, 1981.
We encourage your homeschool family to use this extraordinary time to study the presidential election. We hope this lesson on the Rose Garden strategy has helped you to understand the political background of this extraordinary moment in political history.
Don’t forget to download our free lesson on the presidential primaries, and get your copy of the Presidential Election Unit Study 2020 for homeschools and co-ops!
Here are some key terms and activities on the Rose Garden strategy for your homeschool as you study the presidential election:
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
Rose Garden strategy
White House Rose Garden
Question for Debate and Discussion