Design of Congress, the presidency, and the federal courts

Political science

Design of Congress, the presidency, and the federal courts

Position Paper Options (Choose ONE!)


Option #1

Some have argued that the very design of Congress, the presidency, and the federal courts means that representation is geared to benefit those in American society who are powerful, organized, and attentive. In other words, our system of government in the United States is closer to an oligarchy, where a small group of individuals control government, than a democracy. Because of this, those with little wealth or power, as well as minority groups, tend to have a weaker voice in our political system than those who are wealthy, powerful or organized. Do you believe America has become an oligarchy? Why or why not? Do you think all citizens have equal representation in our system of government? How can we improve representation?

Option #2

The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This has been interpreted as giving all Americans the right to own firearms, with few restrictions placed on this right. First, do you think the Framers intended this to guarantee the right of all citizens to own firearms? Secondly, SHOULD we have this right? Why? Lastly, do you believe there should be restrictions be placed on gun ownership? If you believe there should be no restrictions placed on this right, you must present a coherent argument for why and “it’s in the Constitution” doesn’t count (so was slavery at one point). If you believe restrictions should be placed on firearm ownership, why and what kind of restrictions?

Option #3

Some have argued that with the election of Barack Obama, a Black man, as president, we have become “post-racial”. In other words, we have shed the racism of our past and are now a much more inclusive, colorblind society. However, many argue that the election of Obama did little to address the continuing legacies of slavery and segregation, or the deep-seated racism that still plagues America. First, which of these positions do you agree with and why? Secondly, it is impossible to deny that the legacies of slavery and segregation continue to plague African-American communities in the form of lower incomes and poorer education. How should we, as a nation, address these continuing inequalities?


In crafting your response, you MUST include at least six different sources to support your argument. The lectures only count as one source, even if you cite different lectures, meaning the other five must be the assigned articles OR sources you find on your own. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and Wikipedia DO NOT count as sources. You also must cite all sources in-text where appropriate. If you do not know how to do this has a lot of examples that can be of assistance (see the “citing sources” and “citation styles” sections). The rubric for the essay appears below:



  50 points 40 points 30 to 20 points 10 to 0 points
Thesis and introduction Clear thesis statement and introduction Thesis statement is somewhat vague Thesis & introduction are not clear No thesis statement
Organization Clear topic/transition sentences, coherent paragraphs Jarring transitions from paragraph to paragraph, weak/unclear transitions Disorganized, no real flow to the argument or transitions from one point to another Little to no organization, very disorganized
Evidence & Content Claims made are supported by evidence from readings Some support for claims but also some stretching of evidence to fit claims or unsubstantiated claims Claims are not well supported, evidence is not used convincingly Paper is filled with unsubstantiated claims that are not supported with evidence
Sentence structure & grammar Few grammatical errors, run on sentences, active voice Some grammatical mistakes, some issues with sentence structure Large number of grammatical errors, issues with sentence structure Paper appears to not have been proofread, lack of sentence structure, general misuse of grammar
Sources Minimum number of sources cited properly and consistently cited Less than minimum number of sources cited but consistency in citations Inconsistency in citing sources No sources cited




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