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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

200-level classroom project: An Election Day Conversation

Compose your own "True, False, or Not Stated" exercise based on this dialogue.

  1. Read the dialogue (and listen to the recording).
  2. Compose six statements based on the dialogue. Each statement should be a TRUE statement, a FALSE statement, or a statement that cannot be judged true or false based on the dialogue (in other words, NOT STATED).
An Election-Day Conversation

Sam: “Hey, what's up? You're in a hurry....”
Vicki: “I've been planning to vote all day, but somehow I didn't get free until just now.”
Sam: “Come on, you're really that hot to vote? Relax! One less vote won't make a difference. We all know who's going to win.”
Vicki: “Right, I do know. If you don't vote, Mr. Apathy wins.”
Sam: “That's not what I meant, and you know it. Every Democratic candidate has taken this county for the last thirty years.”
Vicki: “Yeah, we'll probably get the same mayor and the same sheriff. It's hard to take their challengers seriously. But the presidential race and the congressional race are really close. They're both up for grabs.”
Sam: “Don't make me laugh. There will be more than our two votes separating the winner and the loser.”
Vicki: “It's the principle of the thing. If enough people don't get into the habit of doing the right thing every time, we can totally kiss democracy goodbye. The party machines will run everything.”
Sam: “What do you mean, 'the machines'?”
Vicki: “You know, the politicians, their paid helpers, their fan clubs. The people who who show up at party meetings, who work the phone banks, who go door-to-door....”
Sam: “What's wrong with that? If they care, let them care. They're all the same, anyway.”
Vicki: “How do you know they're all the same? You're just letting the crowd think for you. It's not necessarily smart to assume the worst, but it sure is easy.
Sam: “Right. You think that, when the dust settles and the results come out, we'll have a whole new world? Those guys say whatever they think we want to hear. Then, the day after election day, it's back to business as usual.”
Vicki: “And we'll have couch potatoes like you to thank.”
Sam: “Wait a minute. That's not quite fair. You were the one who brought up the party machines.”
Vicki: “It's not that they shouldn't exist. But it's not their job to run the country. It's their job to convince me to vote for their candidates. The only way they will know if they've made a good case for their candidates is if I vote for them.”
Sam: “Sure. They're just waiting to find out if Vicki showed up—along with her 40,000,000 friends.”
Vicki: “I'm not just one of forty million. Look at it this way. Every election, each side gets a predictable number of votes. That's their core support. Unless their candidate is a total slug, they can count on that vote. The difference between winning and losing is convincing undecided voters. And that means us—people who aren't born politicians.”
Sam: “Exactly: I'm undecided. I can't decide who to vote for because I don't believe any of them.”
Vicki: “You 'don't believe'—or you haven't paid attention? Making a decision implies using your brain.”
Sam: “OK, OK, you've made your point. I get it. Let's go over to the school and get it over with—on one condition.”
Vicki: “Great. Name it.”
Sam: “We go get some coffee right after we vote. Then you can tell me more about what a huge difference my vote made.”
Vicki: “Excellent! The point is, no matter who you vote for, and no matter who wins, every vote is a vote for our country.”

If you didn't have a chance to do this in class, send me your six statements. (You don't have to send me the answer key if you don't want to!)

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