Blog Based Lessons

The 2016 Primary Election

Today in Ms. Green’s class, we are taking part in one of the most important events in our country: the primary election!  Together we will be researching our Republican and Democratic candidates, and then participating in Newsela Vote 2016.

First, let’s discover our political parties.  There are two major political parties in the United States today, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.  These are not the only political parties in the United States, but they are the most popular today.  In America’s past, we have had many different parties (Abraham Lincoln was a Whig, remember that?) These two parties are also referred to as being right wing (Republican) or left wing (Democratic).  There are a few major differences between these two political parties.

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To read about the major differences between Republicans and Democrats, as well as a tiny bit of the parties’ histories, read this article.  If that article seems a little overwhelming, I’ll break it down for you right here:

Republicans believe:

  • Taxes should be lowered for everyone (everyone should pay the government less money).
  • Marriage should be between a man and a woman.
  • The Second Amendment protects gun ownership for American citizens.  American citizens should be able to own and carry guns.
  • The minimum wage should stay where it is so that businesses can sustain themselves and profit.
  • The government should stay out of health care.  Health care should be run privately.
  • The government should be uninvolved or have little involvement in programs such as welfare, food stamps, and unemployment benefits.  These programs should be run privately.
  • We should have more military involvement overseas.
  • Regulating environmental impact costs businesses too much money and should be a private, not government, decision.
  • College students should work to put themselves through college and pay off loans.
  • Criminals needs harsher punishment.

Democrats believe:

  • Taxes should be lowered for low income and middle income families, but not high income families.
  • Marriage equality should be expanded to all, including gay and lesbian couples.
  • Tighter gun control laws will protect American citizens.
  • The minimum wage needs to be increased.
  • The government should be involved in health care so that all Americans have access to health care (programs like ObamaCare).
  • The government should run programs like welfare, food stamps, and unemployment benefits.
  • We should have less military involvement overseas.
  • The environment should be protected, even if it costs more money.
  • College has become too expensive, and the government needs to help college students by increasing financial support and decreasing loans.
  • Criminals need more rehabilitation, not more punishment.

So where do you side?  Are you more of a Democrat, or more of a Republican?  If you agree with some things Republicans believe, and some things Democrats believe, you have moderate views.

If you’re really  interested in this, and you feel like a pro at infographics, take a look at this (click on it to make it bigger):

Democrats-vs-Republicans

Both the Democrats and the Republicans are having primary elections and caucuses across the country.  (We won’t get into the difference between primary elections and caucuses right now.  All you need to know is that they function a little differently, but serve the same purpose: to select presidential candidates. )

These primary elections are where Republicans vote for their Republican candidates, and Democrats vote for their Democratic candidates.  Texas has open primaries, which means that you can vote in whichever primary you want to be involved in.  Some states have closed primaries, which means that you need to be a registered Republican to vote in Republican primaries, and a registered Democrat to vote in Democratic primaries.  After the primaries, each party will have a winner, and these winners will run against each other for president.  Today, we are not electing the president, we are electing presidential candidates.

 

Now that we’ve gotten that all figured out, let’s meet the candidates…

Republican Candidates:

The Republican party has had a ton of candidates this election, but today we will focus on the front runners (those who are most likely to win the nomination).

Donald Trump: Donald Trump has some pretty strong views.  These views have made people love him or hate him.  Let’s take a look at some of his campaign videos:

After you watch this initial video, you can click the videos underneath to hear more about his beliefs on specific issues.

You can read more about Trump at DonaldJTrump.com.

 

Ted Cruz:  Ted Cruz has been a popular choice for Republicans who disagree with Trump’s strong views.  Check out two of his campaign videos:

You can read more about Ted Cruz at TedCruz.org.

 

Democratic Candidates:

Hillary Clinton: Hillary Clinton could be America’s first female president.  While there are many people who are excited for Hillary, there are also many who are excited for the idea of a female president, but aren’t convinced that she’s the one.  Check out these videos to see what you think:

Fun Fact: Hillary Clinton is married to Bill Clinton, who was America’s president from 1993-2001.  If Hillary is elected, it will not be her first time to live in the White House.

You can read more about Hillary at HillaryClinton.com

 

Bernie Sanders:  Bernie labels himself a Democratic Socialist, and has had a polarizing effect on the American people.  Polarizing means that people have very strong, opposite views (think of repelling magnets).  People either love him, or think he’s downright crazy.  Here are some of his videos:

You can read more about Bernie Sanders at BernieSanders.com.

 

To see where each of these candidates stands on individual issues, check out this great resource from the New York Times:

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 8.15.34 PM

 

So there we have it.  These are our 4 most promising candidates and where they stand on the issues facing America today.  Most likely, one of these four people will be our president come this November.  Who do you want to win?

Before you vote, you might be interested in how the primary elections have turned out so far.  Here are a Newsela articles with some of the latest results:

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 7.47.56 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 7.50.34 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 7.51.32 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 7.53.47 PM

If you’re looking for a really in depth quiz to tell you exactly how much you align with each candidate, here is a very thorough quiz you can take.

From February 29th-March 1st, you, UT Elementary students, will be able to vote for your favorite presidential candidate on Newsela.com. Until then, we will continue to research the issues and debate the best ways to respond to them.  We are hopeful that a wise and compassionate candidate will step up to the presidency in 2016, and we are excited to have a voice in our country and our government.

 

Thank you for taking part in such an exciting and important time in US History.  You are becoming engaged, active citizens, ready to make change in your country.  Whoever you vote for, I am proud of you for confronting the issues and taking a stand!

 

Love, Literacy, and Civic Engagement,

Ms. Green

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