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Chaotic Conventions

Hoping for Unity, Fearing Rebellion

National conventions are supposed to be a show of party power and solidarity, but there’s always the potential for dissent. Too many internal clashes lead parties to worry about their chances for victory in November.

One article notes that the acceptance speech on Aug. 28, 2008, was scheduled to coincide with the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Newseum Collection
Obama Accepts Democratic Nomination, 2008

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OBJECTIVE: Students will understand the purpose of party conventions, how they have evolved and their impact on the candidates and the electorate.

MATERIALS: Copies of the case study handout, one per student (download); Organizing Evidence worksheet, one per group (download); access to NewseumED.org case study artifacts; NewseumED Pinterest board of related resources (optional)

PROCEDURE:

  1. Ask students what they know about the bumpy road from presidential candidate to party nominee. What steps and events do contenders have to go through?
  2. This case study is one of four in the Election Procedures section of the EDCollection that covers: declaring candidacy, competing in primaries and caucuses, being nominated at the national convention, and the final weeks of wooing voters before the general election. Explain that the case study they will be looking at will raise questions about how democratic our presidential election system is.
  3. Read the Explore the Debate question aloud and/or write it on the board. Read them the overview that sets the scene for group work. Tell them they will use historical and contemporary examples to reach a consensus in small groups on an answer to the debate question.
  4. Pass out copies of the case study and the Organizing Evidence worksheet. Have the groups read each of the four Election Essentials and use the Questions to Consider to help guide the discussion. They should complete sections 1 and 2 on the worksheet.
  5. Have the students look at the Pages From History artifacts for the case study on NewseumED.org and complete section 3 on the worksheet. Give the groups 15 minutes to collect and organize information to formulate evidence-supported arguments for their answer to the debate question. (If time is an issue, skip the artifacts or assign as homework.)
  6. Ask the groups to share their conclusions and reasoning. You may want to use the Questions to Consider again to push and expand the debate.

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Downloads

Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

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