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American Politics Research Paper

Objective: All students are required to write a paper on one of the topics listed below or on a topic of your choice. The essay requires that you research and analyze a question of importance to contemporary American Politics. Your paper should be balanced reviewing both sides of the question and considering the arguments and evidence raised by supporters of both sides. Evaluate the arguments and evidence; then, form you own conclusions and defend them with logical arguments and evidence.

The paper must be at least six (6) pages in length but not greater than ten (10) pages. It must be typed, double spaced and 12 size font.

Papers will be evaluated both on the quality of ideas, arguments, evidence presented, and organization of the paper.

Students have the option of writing a draft of the paper, receiving feedback and then rewriting the paper.

The format of the paper will be in MLA format. A grading rubric is available to view under the “Files” tab on Canvas. The research paper handout is available to view there as well.

Papers must be your own work. Anyone caught plagiarizing or cheating in any way will receive an F for the paper, and possibly for the course. (Hint: don’t cheat!)


1. Should the Constitution be amended to abolish the Electoral College and provide for the direct election of the President? Discuss the arguments made for and against the Electoral College. Where do you come down in this debate?

2. Some people argue that “there is a religious war going on in the United States, a cultural war . . . for the soul of America.” The ‘culture war’ presumably centers on issues such as abortion, school prayer, and gay rights. Other disagree and argue that most Americans are pretty much middle-of-the-road on most issues with only small differences between Democrats and Republicans. What do you think? How polarized is the American public today on hot-button moral, religious and cultural issues? Write an essay in which you review and evaluate the evidence on American public opinion today.

3. Immigration policy has become a hot button issue in the US in recent years. Debate focuses on who should be admitted to the US, how many, and what to do with the millions of immigrants who are here without proper documents, some of whom have children who were born here and thus are US citizens. Write a BALANCED paper in which you summarize the major issues in this debate and review the arguments and evidence on both sides. Where do you come down in this debate? If you were President, what would your immigration policy be?

4. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have changed the American political structure for either the better or the worse. Each candidate has appealed to a new generation of voters that would otherwise not be involved in American politics. Please focus on ONE of the candidates and see how they have changed the American political discussion (new voters, discussion of issues, changes in media coverage, etc.) Has the candidate your chose improve or made worse the political discussion in America?

5. The high levels of partisanship in Congress in recent years have all but paralyzed the institution making it almost impossible to pass even the most routine legislation. Thirty years ago, Congress was much less partisan, and it was common for Democrats and Republicans to compromise to pass legislation on a bipartisan basis. What are the main factors that explain the increasing partisanship in Congress over the past 30 years? Identify the major explanations offered by political scientists and journalists and evaluate the arguments and evidence is support of each. What do you think? Which explanations are most persuasive to you? Why?

If none of these paper topics is of interest to you, you are welcome to suggest a different one. Please let me know what question you would like to explore and we can discuss further the possibilities. Here is a suggestive list of topics in American politics you may want to explore writing about.

Abortion – focusing on the debate between pro life vs. pro choice

Affirmative Action – focusing on the policy initiatives on this program

Budget and Taxes – either budget reform or the impact of tax policy on social programs

Campaign and Political Reform – campaign finance reform and policy

Crime, Death Penalty, and Drugs – the pros and cons of the death penalty.

Education – education reform

Environment – impact of climate change and/or global warming

Euthanasia (“Right to Die”) – exploring both sides of the sensitive issue of euthanasia.

Foreign Policy – focusing on the implementation of U.S. foreign policy objectives. Please see me about this issue so we can narrow down which issue of U.S. foreign policy you should focus on.

Gay Rights – whether or not same sex marriage and/or same sex adoption should be legal.

Gun Control and the 2nd Amendment – exploring both sides on the gun control debate

Marijuana Legalization and Decriminalization – whether or not legalization/decriminalization of marijuana is a good idea for reform in the war on drugs.

Women’s Rights – the feminist movement, the issue of the wage gap, or access to birth control medicine.

References: Please, refer to me if you have any questions about any references that you may consider while you research your topic question.

Also, consider using this site: www.procon.org. The purpose of this site is to provide resources for critical thinking and to educate on controversial issues without bias. ProCon.org research issues that are controversial and important, and they present them in a balanced, comprehensive, straightforward, transparent, and primarily pro-con format.

You are not allowed to use Wikipedia at all. Wikipedia is not a professional research source and can be easily manipulated by editors seeking to push a political or social agenda.

You may also talk to me or contact me about any questions or concerns that you may have while doing your research and writing your paper.

Bibliography and Citations: Any information that you use that is not original and comes from a research resource; you must cite using either footnotes or endnotes. If you need help citing your sources, please come see me during my office hours or send me an e-mail I will be more than happy to help you. A website that can help you with citations and building together your bibliography is the following website: www.bibme.org. BibMe is a website that is dedicated to helping students and professionals put together professional bibliographies and citations. This is a wonderful website that takes out just about all of the tedious work of building a bibliography and citations. Believe me, I used this site many times during graduate school.