American Politics Winter 2022
Take-Home Final Exam
Write TWO double-spaced, 3-page essays in MLA format with 1-inch margins on one topic from each section below (6 full pages total). Indicate the number of each topic you have chosen. Write your two essays in a single document (one right after the other). The overall goal of the essays is to test your critical thinking skills/ability to make reason-based arguments on topics related to politics/political philosophy.
Section One (write on ONE topic only)
1. Thomas Jefferson warned of an “aristocracy of our monied corporations which .
. . bid defiance to the laws of our country.” Considering interest groups and corporate power, discuss whether Jefferson’s concern about excessive corporate power is still relevant. You should also link Jefferson’s statement to the current issue of increasing income/wealth inequality and its impact on our political system. Use specific examples to support your position.
Note: You should review Chapter 7 on REVEL and Reich’s film Inequality for All if you choose this topic.
2. Where to Invade Next contains episodes that show domestic policies in various
countries (eight episodes in eight different countries). After watching the film, choose three foreign countries featured in the film and discuss their programs/policies in detail. Also decide whether you think their programs/policies would be good for the United States if implemented here and the reasons for your opinions. Devote one page of your essay to each country you choose for a total of three pages.
3. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that we all have an inherent right to “Life,Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Yet, there are different perspectives on both liberty and the pursuit of happiness—specifically, what (if any) limitations should apply. Where do your individual rights end and others’ rights begin? One’s view of what is an acceptable framework for liberty and the pursuit of happiness (and what is not) is likely to be based in part on his/her moral/ethical positions and political conditioning.
Develop your own philosophical position on what constitutes appropriate parameters of individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and support it with logical arguments and specific examples/scenarios. It is a philosophical topic, not one on history, nor on the current state of the country, nor on any current political/social issue. Therefore, if you choose to write on this topic, be sure that you stay within its narrow philosophical parameters and avoid discussing specific political issues. Focus your essay on the last sentence in the Prompt:
“Develop your own philosophical position on what constitutes appropriate parameters of individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and support it with logical arguments and specific examples/scenarios.”
Section Two (write on ONE topic only)
1. State and review briefly the three main principles of libertarianism discussed in the Sandel videos. Then, apply these principles to the controversy surrounding Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who has refused to pay use fees to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for grazing his cattle for over 20 years on federally-owned land because he does not recognize the authority of the federal government in this issue.
Should Bundy be forced to pay like 18,000 other ranchers do for using federally-owned lands to graze their cattle?
After detailing what the libertarian position would be on this issue and why, argue for or against it. Be sure to support your position with logical reasoning.
Note: Do not use sources for this topic. Base your essay only on libertarian principles presented in the Sandel videos as well as the facts of the case as stated here, not on any other information that you might find in an outside source.
2. There is a court case that potentially involves two elements of the FirstAmendment: freedom of religion and free political speech. It could also involve civil rights issues included in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection clause in the 14th Amendment. The case involves a Christian printer who refused to print gay pride T-shirts because the message of the shirts conflicted with his religious beliefs. The printer declined the printing job for T-shirts promoting a gay pride festival, but offered to contact other local printers to do the work for the same price as he would have charged. The printer has a history of rejecting other orders for shirts promoting sexually explicit material/actions and violence because the messages violate his religious beliefs.
Do an analysis of this case by considering possible arguments on both sides,
and then reach a conclusion as to whether the United States Supreme Court
should rule for or against the printer (and why) and how you think the Court
would rule if the case comes before them (and why).
3. There is a court case that potentially involves the Establishment clause, the Free
Religious Practice clause, and the Free Speech clause of the 1st Amendment. It involves a coach who was fired for praying on the field. Refer to
https://www.yahoo.com/news/supreme-court-hear-case-high-212718240.html as you decide whether the coach would/should win at the U.S. Supreme Court.
You may also refer to other online articles specifically about this case if you wish. Your task is to consider possible arguments on both sides of the case, and then reach a conclusion as to whether the United States Supreme Court should rule for or against the coach (and why) and how you think the Court would rule if the case comes before them (and why).
Develop your own philosophical position on what constitutes appropriate parameters of individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
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