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Civic Engagement: The Iowa Caucuses
Unformatted Document Text:  Appendix A Class Syllabus The Presidential Nomination Process/Caucus Internship MWF 8:30-9:45 Meredith 203 COURSE: Before we elect a President, the political parties must choose their candidates. By the time we vote in November of 2008 the choice, for better or for worse, will most likely be between two individuals, the candidates of the two major parties. So the process by which those parties choose those nominees is central to the workings of our democracy. That process has changed over time from one where party leaders and elites made the decision to one where, presumably, the public decides. Some would question the role the public actually plays, others would question the wisdom of such a change, and still others would question the effectiveness of the entire endeavor. In addition, since the early 1970s, the process has operated in a fashion that gives the Iowa caucuses a central role. Iowans – or at least most of them – may like this, but again, others would argue this is not a good thing. In this class, we will examine the method by which we choose the two people from whom the Electoral College will choose our next President. (The use of the Electoral College to make that decision is a topic for a different class!) And we will take advantage of our location in Des Moines, to pay particular attention to the role that Iowa plays in that process. We will examine the rules that structure the nomination process, how voters make decisions, what campaigns do to try and win votes, and the role that money, the media and the Internet play in shaping the process and its outcome. And all of you will have practical experience in the caucuses to help test ideas, expand understanding and deepen our appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of this process. Drake has a commitment to helping students become engaged citizens. In this class you will be engaged in one aspect of citizenship in the United States, the selection of the next President and, at least as important, you will have a perspective from which to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of this particular type of engagement. This is a new course for me as well. I did teach classes on the nomination process in both 2000 and 1996 (I was on sabbatical in 2004), and I teach classes on the general election (at both the Presidential and Congressional level) on a regular basis. In fact, I have a new book, Losing Control: Presidential Elections and the Decline of Democracy, that just came out in April of this year, which focuses on that broader general election process (though there is one chapter in the book devoted to the nomination process). And I have

Authors: Sanders, Arthur.
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Appendix A
Class Syllabus
The Presidential Nomination Process/Caucus
Internship
MWF 8:30-9:45 Meredith 203
COURSE:
Before we elect a President, the political parties must choose their candidates. By the
time we vote in November of 2008 the choice, for better or for worse, will most likely be
between two individuals, the candidates of the two major parties. So the process by
which those parties choose those nominees is central to the workings of our democracy.
That process has changed over time from one where party leaders and elites made the
decision to one where, presumably, the public decides. Some would question the role the
public actually plays, others would question the wisdom of such a change, and still others
would question the effectiveness of the entire endeavor. In addition, since the early
1970s, the process has operated in a fashion that gives the Iowa caucuses a central role.
Iowans – or at least most of them – may like this, but again, others would argue this is not
a good thing.
In this class, we will examine the method by which we choose the two people from
whom the Electoral College will choose our next President. (The use of the Electoral
College to make that decision is a topic for a different class!) And we will take advantage
of our location in Des Moines, to pay particular attention to the role that Iowa plays in
that process. We will examine the rules that structure the nomination process, how voters
make decisions, what campaigns do to try and win votes, and the role that money, the
media and the Internet play in shaping the process and its outcome. And all of you will
have practical experience in the caucuses to help test ideas, expand understanding and
deepen our appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of this process. Drake has a
commitment to helping students become engaged citizens. In this class you will be
engaged in one aspect of citizenship in the United States, the selection of the next
President and, at least as important, you will have a perspective from which to evaluate
the advantages and disadvantages of this particular type of engagement.
This is a new course for me as well. I did teach classes on the nomination process in both
2000 and 1996 (I was on sabbatical in 2004), and I teach classes on the general election
(at both the Presidential and Congressional level) on a regular basis. In fact, I have a new
book, Losing Control: Presidential Elections and the Decline of Democracy, that just
came out in April of this year, which focuses on that broader general election process
(though there is one chapter in the book devoted to the nomination process). And I have


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