American Government Analytical Paper

Required Analytical Paper

Directions: Select one (1) of the topics listed on pages 2 and 3. Write a four- to five-page paper clearly and cogently answering the question or questions posed.

All questions require you to craft a well-edited and balanced analysis of the subject. Arguments should be clear, specific, and backed up by solid research (studies, statistics, specific examples, and logic). Make sure to include the best arguments on both sides of the question even if you ultimately disagree with some of them. Your paper should include a minimum of six (6) sources, half of which should be available in print. Refer to your syllabus for a more detailed discussion of paper guidelines before you begin writing. Any references or quotes should be clearly indicated with endnotes using any commonly accepted system of citation (MLA preferred).

For an example go to: http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/DocMLA.html.

Make sure to include a concise statement of your thesis in the introductory paragraph and reach an equally clear conclusion in your final paragraph. “I don’t know” or “it’s very complex” are not satisfactory conclusions. You should write in a professional and persuasive voice, avoiding the use of “I” and mushy feelings. Imagine that you are an aide writing a memorandum for a government official. A paper this brief requires that every word counts and every sentence is important, as you will be (or should be) packing large amounts of information in a relatively brief space. Grammar and spelling should be flawless, so I strongly suggest you use the spell-and-grammar tool in your software or seek advice from the gifted individuals who staff our Tutoring Center. Research and reflect carefully before beginning to write. You may use either 1.5 or double spacing in your paper. The page requirement/limit does NOT include your bibliography or works cited page. You may include either footnotes or endnotes in your paper. The latter, also, will not be counted against your page limit.

Question Options for Analytical Paper

Question 1

 

Americans have been accused of “constitutional fetishism,” or excessive adoration of the U.S. Constitution. To a minority of political scientists, lawyers, and constitutional theorists, however, uncritical celebration of the U.S. Constitution has blinded us to the Constitution’s abundant deficiencies, leading to a cult of “American exceptionalism”…the notion that American institutions are the best that any democracy has to offer and, despite over two hundred years of intervening history, are not in need of any fundamental change. In this cult, the “Founding Fathers” play the role of demi-gods (a description coined by Thomas Jefferson) and the U.S. Constitution itself plays the role of idol.

Read this essay by respected Constitutional Law professor Sandi Levinson, who represents this position. Is our constitution a Golden Calf? Is he right? Would yousign the Constitution?

Sandi Levinson, “Why I Would Not Sign the Constitution”

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20030923_levinson.html

 

Question 2

 

Assess the following argument. Do you agree or disagree? More importantly, why do you agree or disagree? Be specific. What alternatives exist to the Electoral College, assuming it should be changed?

“The Electoral College is an embarrassment to America’s democracy. Designed by elitists to insulate the Presidency from popular influence, it has worked to frustrate majority rule in this country. The United States cannot be considered a model democracy when, in contract to other democracies, it doesn’t even let the people directly choose the one official who is supposed to speak for all Americans. It should be junked immediately.”

 

 

 

Question 3

To varying degrees, many individuals see immigration as a source of great strength for the United States or as a grave threat. An estimated 12 million illegal immigrants reside in this country, many of them in Texas and most from Mexico. A recent attempt to pass a more strict immigration bill in the U.S. Senate failed but generated enormous popular support and enormous opposition rallies.

Is illegal immigration a threat to the country? What do you think the government should do about it? Don’t just give opinions. Provide specific evidence.

 

Question 4

 

Numerous scholars have argued that the American presidency is an “imperial presidency.” This thesis holds that the power of the office has come to dominate the other two branches, a development more likely to do harm than good.

Do you agree that we have an “imperial presidency? Take a clear position but identify evidence that both supports and undermines your claim, using scholarship on the subject, contemporary political events and class materials.

Question 5     

 

The policy of affirmative action in hiring and university admissions is a controversial one.

How can you reconcile this practice, if at all, with the 14th Amendment’s requirement that all persons receive “equal protection of the laws”? State the strongest arguments both for and against affirmative action, but don’t be a fence-sitter. Is/should affirmative action constitutional (legal) or not?

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