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Debate Videos

DebateThe Debate videos explore high-interest or "hot" political topics (e.g., gay marriage). Intended to spark classroom discussion and motivate critical thinking, each video contains a vigorous debate between two faculty on a political issue that will be of keen interest to students. These videos are accompanied by critical thinking prompts that direct student attention to key aspects of the discussion as it unfolds.


Type Title Assignment
Debate Debate: 2000 Presidential Election

The 2000 presidential election was the closest in the history of the United States, fueling an unprecedented post-election assessment of the U.S. electoral process. This debate revisits the election and discusses some of the controversies that gave rise to this historic election.

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Debate Debate: Abortion

Abortion has been an enduring and heated issue in American politics because it pits two major American values against each other: life and liberty. One side says abortion is an act that ends life. The other says to deny an abortion is to deny individual liberty.

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Debate Debate: Affirmative Action

Affirmative action policies acknowledge a history of discrimination against specific groups and prescribe assistance to these groups through employment, university admissions and more. In the end, some people argue that these policies repair an historical injustice, while others say they create injustice.

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Debate Debate: American Democracy and Human Rights

American democracy embodies a set of values (equality, liberty, etc.) and processes (free press, popular elections, etc.) that most Americans cherish. Some individuals believe American style democracy is a human right. Others believe it is a form of government among many competing forms.

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Debate Debate: Americans in Iraq

American troops entered Iraq in March of 2003. Some argue that the United States has invaded Iraq to force adoption of an American-style government. Others contend that the United States is liberating Iraqis from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. This debate is framed around these two competing perspectives.

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Debate Debate: Video: Censorship and the FCC

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates content in the mass media (e.g., television programs). The First Amendment protects citizens from government censorship. This debate explores the tension between these competing interests.

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Debate Debate: Church and State

Separation of church (religion) and state (government) is a core concept in American democracy. The ideal of avoiding an official government religion and allowing for freedom to worship has been debated since the founding of the county. This debate revisits and renews many of the classic controversies surrounding this issue.

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Debate Debate: Compulsory Voting

Low levels of political participation—especially declining voter turnout—undermine the legitimacy of governmental and political processes in the United States. Some people argue that compulsory voting could restore faith in America's political institutions.

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Debate Debate: Congressional Partisanship

In a representative democracy like that of the United States, elected officials and institutions are expected to be responsive to the people—the idea of popular consent is based on this. If elected officials are more loyal to their parties than their constituents they are no longer acting as representatives. With this basic premise in mind, Falcon and Obasohan debate partisanship in the U.S. Congress.

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Debate Debate: Congressional Term Limits

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate can serve an indefinite number of terms. Currently, incumbents enjoy a reelection rate well over seventy percent. The result is a relatively low turnover rate that some people believe limits accountability and innovation.

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Debate Debate: Exporting American Democracy

Should the ideals of American democracy—including freedom, individualism, popular sovereignty, equality, and more—be deliberately promoted, even "pushed" outside the United States?

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Debate Debate: Gun Control

The gun control debate in American pits individual rights against public safety. Those who support gun ownership point to their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Those who oppose gun ownership point to their right to feel safe in society. This heated debate swirls around these two competing perspectives.

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Debate Debate: Illegal Immigration

The number of persons living in the United States illegally is difficult to determine accurately; recent estimates range between 5 and 10million. It is just as difficult to determine the costs and benefits associated with the presence of such a large illegal population. The debate surrounding illegal immigration will not be going away any time soon.

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Debate Debate: Merit System

Most federal, state, and local government employees are protected by civil service rules and regulations related to hiring, promotions, and termination. Civil service protections were intended to both professionalize the bureaucracy and shield it from political interference thus rendering it more stable and effective. Some people believe that the civil service system, also known as the merit system, actually discourages efficiency and productivity by protecting incompetent and unmotivated employees.

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Debate Debate: Patriot Act

Many people believe that the Patriot Act undermines the core values of American democracy and should be scaled back or abandoned. Others believe it is necessary to fight the new global war on terrorism. This debate is framed around these two competing perspectives.

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Debate Debate: Political Action Committees

American democracy allows for political participation on many different levels--voting, volunteering, organizing, demonstrating, and much more. Political action committees (PAC)s are a recent phenomenon in American politics that participate by primarily contributing money to political campaigns. This debate explores the impact PACs are having on our political processes.

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Debate Debate: Popular Election of Judges

Voting for government officials is part of the American democratic tradition; however, this is not the case in the federal courts. Federal judges are appointed.

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Debate Debate: Poverty and Political Parties

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 36 million Americans at or below the poverty level. This issue is a central concern to most leaders in government; however, the problem is so multifaceted that a consensus approach has not materialized. This debate looks at the Republican and Democratic approaches to poverty in America.

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Debate Debate: Presidential Power

The Founding Fathers did not want the president to become as powerful as a king; however, as the head of government and commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation in the world, the president of the United States has grown to be one of the most powerful positions in the world. In this debate, Falcon and Reece look at the issue of presidential power discussing whether or not the presidency has become too powerful.

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Debate Debate: Public Campaign Financing

The cost of campaigning at the federal level continues to climb, especially for candidates challenging incumbents. Incumbents have a tremendous advantage in terms of funding which makes competitive elections very rare. Some people believe that the solution is limiting private financing and replacing it with public funding.

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Debate Debate: Video: Self Censorship and the News

In the ongoing struggle to build and maintain an informed electorate, the news may be our democracy's most important asset. Censorship of the news could unravel this important function.

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