Nothing in government and politics is clear, straightforward, or "cut-and-dry". Everything has grey area -- room for debate and critique. For the remainder of the school year, we will engage in a series of student-driven, student-led debates on a number of political issues. This process will enlighten, enliven, and engage students as civic-minded individuals striving to make sense of their convictions before entering the public as a member of the civic body.

Constructive Debate

The basis of the debate structure will rest upon the text Taking Sides: Clashing views on controversial political issues published by McGraw-Hill. This text is a collection of essays written by leading thinker/leaders arranged around 22 issues. Each issue is posed in the form of a question (i.e. Should there be term limits for members of Congress?) and there is an essay for "yes" and an essay for "no". I have provided below a list of the issues. Click on an issue for the process of completing this constructive debate as well as for the essays themselves.

List of Issues

PART 1: DEMOCRACY AND THE AMERICAN POLITICAL PROCESS

Issue 1. Has the American Political System Succeeded?
Issue 2. Do Political Campaigns Inform Voters?
Issue 3. Do Political Action Committees Undermine Democracy?
Issue 4. Is the Level of Political Discussion in the Media Deteriorating?

PART 2: THE INSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT

Issue 5. Should There Be Term Limits for Members of Congress?
Issue 6. Do We Need a Strong Presidency?
Issue 7. Does the Government Regulate Too Much?
Issue 8. Should the Federal Courts Be Bound by the "Original Intent" of the Framers?

PART 3: SOCIAL CHANGE AND PUBLIC POLICY

Issue 9. Will Mandatory Sentencing Reduce Crime?
Issue 10. Is Capital Punishment Justified?
Issue 11. Do We Need Tougher Gun Control Laws?
Issue 12. Is Affirmative Action Reverse Discrimination?
Issue 13. Should Hate Speech Be Punished?
Issue 14. Has the Welfare State Failed America's Poor?
Issue 15. Is a Flat Tax a Fair Tax?
Issue 16. Should Abortion Be Restricted?
Issue 17. Do We Need a Constitutional Amendment Permitting Prayer in Schools?
Issue 18. Should Gay Marriage Be Legalized?

PART 4: AMERICA AND THE WORLD

Issue 19. Must America Be the World Leader?
Issue 20. Should American Foreign Policy Be Guided by National Self-Interest?
Issue 21. Should the United States Put More Restrictions on Immigration?
Issue 22. Is America Declining?