Every presidential election is important. But Election 2020 has an urgency and a feeling of historical significance to it that sets it apart from any other race for the White House in several generations.
This election takes place in the midst of a global pandemic that has caused the deaths of 200,000 Americans, led to massive upheaval to our economy and our education system, and forced millions of people to alter how they live their lives day to day. America is experiencing changes as a result of the rise of social media, increasing globalization, and a heightened interest in social justice reform. At the same time, the country has become increasingly divided, fueled by mistrust, misinformation, frustration, resentment, and an erosion of civility. The next President of the United States will have to contend with these issues—and many others—and it is up to voters to decide who is best suited to handle this massive responsibility.
For our coverage of Election 2020, we're giving learners who are still too young to vote a taste of how to follow a presidential election in depth and be informed citizens who are prepared to cast their ballots. To that end, we're providing a classroom activity that has students use their research skills to learn about the two main contenders for the White House. Students could also follow the activity directions to research third-party candidates from the Libertarian and Green Parties, among others.
Students should understand that as Americans, one of our most sacred rights is the right to vote—the right to choose our leaders in free and fair elections. Voting responsibly and wisely means learning about the people who are running for office and knowing where they stand on the key issues.
As you assign the activity to your students, you may wish to suggest areas on which they should focus as they conduct their research. For example: • What prior political and leadership experience does each person have that makes him qualified to be the next President? • What is each person's point of view on major issues, such as national security, the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare, education, civil rights, immigration, the economy, taxes, climate change, and other topics of concern to the student?
For younger students, consider having them describe or draw one or two things that they learned about each of the nominees from their research.
For older students, you may want to initiate a discussion on how to identify biases in the media, and the importance of having reliable and accurate sources of news and information.
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