Presidential Politics students explore 1968, 1972 elections

By Dennis Jenkins

Wednesday we began class by reviewing the court cases students researched in study hall the night before. Discussion focused on how civil rights and the rights of the accused were dealt with by the Supreme Court. We then contrasted the rankings of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson’s presidencies. The class then watched a clip over the events of 1968 and how they impacted the presidential election. Students then read about Richard Nixon’s background and what different politicians said about Nixon’s legacy. We then contrasted how historians rank Nixon on criteria such as foreign policy, leadership, economic management, and moral authority.

After our morning break, students shared a hobby they had, something they collected, or a unique fact about themselves as an ice-breaker activity. We then watched different campaign commercials from each of the candidates in 1968. We discussed what was or wasn’t effective about each commercial. Students were then put into three teams in which they made campaign posters for their political party in the 1968 election. Two students who portrayed Hubert Humphrey (Trinton) and George Wallace (Benjamin) picked two of their peers to be their campaign manager as they prepared for their debate. We ended the morning session of the class by role-playing a fictional debate between the three presidential candidates in 1968. As Trinton and Benjamin debated my character of Richard Nixon, the rest of class filled out a scorecard as they each got to ask questions during the debate and evaluate our performance.

After lunch students went to the computer lab in the library to research several court cases during the Nixon years. The class examined the background of the case, the constitutional issue, and how the Supreme Court ruled, before giving a summary of what they learned when we returned to class. Students then watched the major events of Nixon’s first term in office. The class then researched the issues of the 1972 election between Richard Nixon and George McGovern. Students then contrasted different commercials each candidate used. The class then ranked their top three decisions that Nixon made before we watched a clip over the Watergate scandal. We ended class by reading a current events article over the legacy of Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election.

Wednesday night in Study Hall, students researched their candidate and opponent for the Presidential Face-Off Tournament that will be held during the last week of VAMPY.