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Old 01-28-2008, 06:52 AM   #1
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Saipan Primary

Okay, the residents of Saipan are not allowed to vote in the Presidential election (unlike the "regular" U.s. territories) but nonetheless, we will be holding our own school Democratic "primary" on Super Tuesday. My high school American Government class is conducting the primary as part of their class. Part of the class is acting as Hillary Clinton's "campaign managers" on Saipan and the other group as acting as Barak Obama's "managers."

(For those of you wondering, what happened to a Republican party.: After two weeks of reading and research in the daily papers and online, we had a in-class primary with all the candidates, Republican and Democrat on the ballot. Only Clinton and Obama got any votes).

Today, I had the students make presentations to the 3/4th grade, 5th/6th grades, and 7/8th grades--all of whom will vote in our school primary next Tuesday--to tell them why the kids should vote for their candidate. This week they'll be making brochures (and they've also already gone pretty nuts with the campaign posters and flyers all over our little campus) and doing more presentations. I might even have them do some polling.

It was funny though, because the kind of advice I wanted to give them after todays presentations was the exact opposite of what I would have expected. Their presentations were just mind-numblingly dull. . .a protracted recitation of the candidate's platforms for health care, the war in Iraq, education etc--platforms that were essentially the same in just about all respects. I wanted to tell them--"Guys, never mind all this policy detail, you want to convince them that your candidate is better than the other. You've got to get them excited about your candidate." In short, I wanted to say "go for style over substance. Nobody cares about the substance. . .they're bored by it." And of course I was horrified at myself because that's exactly what we're all saying is wrong with this country. The debate is supposed to be about the "issues" not surface stuff, right?

So anyway, I created this thread so that if any of you have advice (or even specific campaign strategy for one of the candidates) that you'd like to share that will help these kids get the votes of elementary and middle school students, I welcome it and I will share it with the kids. I'm sure they'll be thrilled. Also, I'll keep you posted on how the race is looking from the perspective of a bunch kids from the island as we head towards Super Tuesday.
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Old 01-28-2008, 02:51 PM   #2
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I wonder if you are just worried that your students are not
FIRED UP AND READY TO GO

but, instead are looking at other issues, such as policies, experience, yes and even substance?

instead of catchy slogans and style

personally I always found

"Keep hope alive" to be incredibly inspirational
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:17 PM   #3
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after re-reading your post

I think your students are to be commended for their approach

your may have heard the saying

"The child becomes the father to the man"
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Old 01-28-2008, 06:56 PM   #4
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Interesting topic. God, advice?

I'd advise them both to mix vision with detail. Obama is exciting, but his hope is vague. Martin Luther King gave a specific, almost palpable vision. Kennedy promised us a man on the moon. Both of them made it clear that hope was just a start, that it was empty without action and they provided specific actions, specific visions. Sacrifice, make it better. They put it on the people. They set goals. They were idealistic and pragmatic. Obama has the idealism. Hillary has the pragmatism. I'd love to merge them.
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Old 01-28-2008, 06:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonosSaint

Obama has the idealism. Hillary has the pragmatism. I'd love to merge them.
higher probability of merging their spouses
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:09 PM   #6
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"Issues"...never mind the issues for now. Obama and Hillary really don't differ that much on the "issues" do they??? A few differences but they're both Democrats so is there really that much difference??? Maybe go for who could actually win the Whitehouse - at this point if Hillary is chosen as the nominee it will spell utter disaster for the Democratic party. Half the Democrats I know will NOT vote for her if she is the nominee (not after the Clinton's disgraceful displays of desperation in the last few weeks). they're telling me they will either stay home, vote independent or, as only a few have stated, vote for John McCain if indeed he's the republican nominee. I'm warning all democrats everywhere that a Hillary Clinton for President will simply NOT work - too many people (democrats included) do not like her, and more and more folks are beginning to dislike her husband as well. She simply cannot win the Presidency.
I would suggest to your kids to vote for Obama, get behind the excitement and let's put someone in the Whitehouse who would truly change things.
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:20 PM   #7
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The Ron Paul revoultion begins in Saipan!!!!
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:25 PM   #8
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:32 PM   #9
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I wonder if they have the blimp in Saipan

In all seriousness, I don't have any advice. But I think that is a really cool idea and a great project that you thought up for your students
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Harry Vest
Half the Democrats I know will NOT vote for her if she is the nominee (not after the Clinton's disgraceful displays of desperation in the last few weeks). they're telling me they will either stay home, vote independent or, as only a few have stated, vote for John McCain if indeed he's the republican nominee.
My sister, who is a Democrat, said the same thing to me this weekend (that if it was down to Hillary and McCain that she would vote for McCain).

It really surprised me.
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Old 01-28-2008, 09:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep
I wonder if you are just worried that your students are not
FIRED UP AND READY TO GO

but, instead are looking at other issues, such as policies, experience, yes and even substance?

instead of catchy slogans and style

personally I always found

"Keep hope alive" to be incredibly inspirational

Deep, deep, deep. Do I really seem like that much of an Obamamaniac to you?

The Clinton supporters haven't got around--or thought of--arguing for her experience (nor have the Obama supporters argued for "change"). Both sides have just presented their stances which are--I'll say it again--BASICALLY. THE. SAME. Neither side has provided a compelling reason why the students should vote for their candidate. If that doesn't change, Obama will win because the Obama people have more posters up around the school! That's ridiculous!

The problem of course is that the "experience" argument is every bit as shallow as the "change" argument. I'm amazed you can't see that.
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Old 01-28-2008, 09:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Harry Vest
[BI would suggest to your kids to vote for Obama, get behind the excitement and let's put someone in the Whitehouse who would truly change things. [/B]
I'M not going to make any voting recommendations to my students. My government class will campaign for their respective candidates and the elementary and junior high classes will vote for the candidates based on their efforts. I don't want to skew the voting with my influence.

But I think you're right.
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Old 01-29-2008, 01:25 AM   #13
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Hmmm, well I've got no experience with overseeing mock elections, but I wonder if perhaps your preparatory curriculum didn't include adequate attention to aspects of elections such as campaign theme development, candidate presentation and "image," targeted campaign advertising, and so forth? If they've grown up in an environment where no one they know ever votes in US Presidential and Congressional elections anyway, and depending on how competitive and democratic your local elections there are, then they may be coming from a very different place than high school students back here would be, in terms of what exactly they perceive elections to be all about, why elections do or don't seem exciting and rewarding to follow and participate in, etc.
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Old 01-29-2008, 05:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
Hmmm, well I've got no experience with overseeing mock elections, but I wonder if perhaps your preparatory curriculum didn't include adequate attention to aspects of elections such as campaign theme development, candidate presentation and "image," targeted campaign advertising, and so forth? If they've grown up in an environment where no one they know ever votes in US Presidential and Congressional elections anyway, and depending on how competitive and democratic your local elections there are, then they may be coming from a very different place than high school students back here would be, in terms of what exactly they perceive elections to be all about, why elections do or don't seem exciting and rewarding to follow and participate in, etc.
Well, I suppose part of the problem is that my "prepratory curriculum" is being taught in concert with this activity so they're kind of learning as they go.

Elections here for our legislature and governor are characterized by a lot of family influence (it's a small island and so the powerful families hold a lot of influence), sign-wavings on the side of the road (and a LOT of signage everywhere--and sure enough that has been the most distinctive part of my students campaign efforts so far), and so on. We just had our own version of "Barack Obama" a young woman named Tina Sablan who is all about "hope" and "change" and changing the way our local government "works" (change that is desperately needed as our pols are almost uniformly corrupt and short-sighted) get elected to the legislature in November. She completely ignored the traditional means of campaigning here in the CNMI--no sign-waving parties, no plastering the island with signs, no promises of hooking up all of the extended family with government jobs, and she spent virtually no money. Instead she invited people to meet with her at the picnic shelters along the beach to discuss the issues, she wrote letters to the papers explaining her stances. She barely got in, but she did. We're all eager to see what happens next. I recommend you all do a google search on her. She's quite a remarkable woman and even if you don't live in Saipan, I think many you would find her story and what she's done here to be quite fascinating.

My latest instructions to my students were to figure out why their candidate would make a better president--that's what I think has been lacking. I think there was an element of haste and laziness too. I think they just went to the candidates website and printed off their platform (a lot of their presenation was just straight reading and I doubt THEY even understood what they were reading). I told them if they can find substantial differences in the platforms then great--highlight those (in language kids can understand). Beyond that, they need to make a case for why their candidate, platform aside would be the best.

I talked to them about the ongoing debate over "change" vs "experience"-- a dynamic most were unaware of (which again shows a lack of broad research and preparation into the issues surrounding the candidates). We'll see how it goes in the next few days.

They have to make pamphlets supporting their candidates to pass out on Thursday. Friday morning we will watch the Democratic debates and Monday afternoon (after our Super Bowl party) they will hold debates of their own in front of the younger students. Tuesday, of course is the big day when everybody votes!
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Old 01-29-2008, 07:23 PM   #15
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Well, good luck with it. Is it pretty typical there for people in general (not just kids) to pay little attention to US elections? And are YOU able to vote from out there?

I did read a little by/about Sablan. She sounds maybe more Nader-esque than Obama-esque based on what I read, but I'm sure the reality on the ground is much more complex than I can imagine. What exactly does 'federalization of immigration and labor' consist of? Also, does she encounter much resistance from indigenous rights activists? It sounds sort of like some of her stances might be perceived as threatening to them in some ways. (I do realize that she is Chamorro herself.)
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