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Teaching American Political Institutions Using Role-playing Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  20 debate, I also encouraged party and committee leaders to do whatever they needed to do to garner enough votes for or against the amendment. The result of their frantic efforts was a very noisy room and a lot of controlled chaos (much like the real Senate during a contentious debate). After a period of debate, the Republican leadership made a motion to table the amendment. Following actual Senate protocol, senators were recognized to vote individually by voice, and I recorded each vote on a predesigned vote tally template. 8 The result was a tie, which was broken by the vice-president in favor of tabling the amendment. Next, Republicans moved to pass the underlying bill, but Democrats moved to table their motion. In retrospect, I’m not entirely sure that this was the correct procedure, but we voted anyway. The result was a 13- 10 vote in favor of the motion to table, which meant that debate on the underlying bill would continue. At this point in the simulation, President Bush chose to address the Senate. The speech was exceptionally well delivered, and the underlying message was that a vote to withdraw troops was a vote for the terrorists. I should also note that throughout the simulation both the president and vice-president acted as lobbyists, attempting to sway wavering senators toward their preferred policy position. When the Senate reconvened, one of my students chose to exercise her right to filibuster. As part of the simulation structure, I designed an artificial filibuster to give students the chance to see what happens during the real thing. Under the simulation rules, only one filibuster would be in order during the duration of the simulation; the senator filibustering could not yield the floor to someone else or the filibuster would immediately end; after five minutes, the Senate would automatically proceed to a cloture vote; if the vote failed, the Senate would continue to 8 I highly recommend designing such a template before any simulation that will involve voting. This greatly simplified the voting process and helped ensure accurate vote counts.

Authors: Gonzales, Angelo.
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20
debate, I also encouraged party and committee leaders to do whatever they needed to do to
garner enough votes for or against the amendment. The result of their frantic efforts was a very
noisy room and a lot of controlled chaos (much like the real Senate during a contentious debate).
After a period of debate, the Republican leadership made a motion to table the
amendment. Following actual Senate protocol, senators were recognized to vote individually by
voice, and I recorded each vote on a predesigned vote tally template.
8
The result was a tie,
which was broken by the vice-president in favor of tabling the amendment. Next, Republicans
moved to pass the underlying bill, but Democrats moved to table their motion. In retrospect, I’m
not entirely sure that this was the correct procedure, but we voted anyway. The result was a 13-
10 vote in favor of the motion to table, which meant that debate on the underlying bill would
continue.
At this point in the simulation, President Bush chose to address the Senate. The speech
was exceptionally well delivered, and the underlying message was that a vote to withdraw troops
was a vote for the terrorists. I should also note that throughout the simulation both the president
and vice-president acted as lobbyists, attempting to sway wavering senators toward their
preferred policy position.
When the Senate reconvened, one of my students chose to exercise her right to filibuster.
As part of the simulation structure, I designed an artificial filibuster to give students the chance
to see what happens during the real thing. Under the simulation rules, only one filibuster would
be in order during the duration of the simulation; the senator filibustering could not yield the
floor to someone else or the filibuster would immediately end; after five minutes, the Senate
would automatically proceed to a cloture vote; if the vote failed, the Senate would continue to
8
I highly recommend designing such a template before any simulation that will involve voting. This greatly
simplified the voting process and helped ensure accurate vote counts.


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