POLITICAL PASSPORT RESEARCH PAPER: critically, to assess yourself and determine your political power relative (in comparison) to the world around you

This assignment asks you to think critically, to assess yourself and determine your
political power relative (in comparison) to the world around you. There are 10 sections to
this paper. Each section must be completed. It is highly recommended that you also use
graphics (photos, clip art, graphs, etc.); it makes your paper look better and more
interesting. Your goal is to expand your influence by establishing more places that your
Political Passport will be ‘stamped.’ The more places it is stamped the more influence
you have. This will be accomplished by establishing your own special interest group.
The respective 10 sections of this paper will require you to:
(I) determine your own political passport
(II) create a special interest group supporting a cause that you support; give this
organization a name and a mission statement
(III) detail the history of your cause, why it is important to you, and why it is important
for Americans to support your cause and group
(IV) hire a lobbyist to persuade members of the legislature to support your cause
(V) draft federal legislation in support of your cause and interest group; what is a law
that, when passed, will further the cause of your group?
(VI) draft an initiative for the California state ballot
(VII) recall the governor because he is not supportive of your cause
(VIII) stage an engaging and persuasive public event; you will create a publicity flyer for
this event encouraging people to attend; be sure to include location/date/time of event
(IX) stage an act of civil disobedience to draw more attention to your cause
(X) summarize the state of democracy in the US and the legitimacy of the current
political process. What kinds of social norms does it create? What does this mean for the
success of your cause and organization?
2
SECTION I: WHAT IS YOUR ‘POLITICAL PASSPORT?’
Politically speaking, who are you? What political space do you currently occupy? Based
on who you are –– and considering factors of race, class, gender, age and religion ––
where do you fit into Lasswell’s definition of politics: ‘who gets what, when, how?’
What do you get, and what are you denied? What influence do you have in ‘getting what,
when and how?’ What information do you have access to, and what is kept from you?
Where are you welcome, and where are you unwelcome? Where does your ‘Political
Passport’ allow you to go? In your daily life, where do you have access, and where are
you denied access –– that is, where are you accepted, and where are you rejected? In
other words, how are you treated because of your political profile? What advantages (bias
in your favor) and disadvantages (bias not in your favor) do you experience because of
your particular ‘Political Passport?’
The following are just some of the political characteristics that help to create a profile
that in turn generates your Political Passport. Consider these and other characteristics:
Political characteristics
• Race (ethnicity)
• Class (economic status)
• Gender (male/female; GLBT)
• Religion (or lack thereof)
• Culture (not just ethnic cultures, but social cultures; for example, being in the military
isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle, the same can be said for firefighters and police. Others
include biker cultures (think Hell’s Angels, Sons of Anarchy); touring performers (stage
actors, musicians, circus)
• Age (people are treated differently at different ages)
• Appearance (often the basis for discrimination)
• Physical abilities and disabilities
• Education
• Languages spoken (or accented language, i.e. English with Spanish accent/Spanish with
an English accent)
• Occupation
• Political party affiliation (or lack thereof)
• Tattoos/piercings/implants
Political passports are essential in determining who gets what, when and how.
For this section, you are to compose your own political profile and determine what
political access your profile allows. What clubs, groups, organizations, businesses,
occupations, communities, etc. would welcome you and stamp your passport and why?
What are some that would reject you and why?
3
SECTION II: YOUR POLITICAL BABY: ORGANIZE AN INTEREST GROUP
CREATE A NAME AND DRAFT A MISSION STATEMENT
Now that you are politicized, you are going to create a special interest group to advance
your cause. It may be related to some issue regarding your own Political Passport and life
experience. Or, it may involve something else entirely. The core requirement for this
special interest group is to further democratic ideals by offering new or better
representation on an issue or to a person (or people) where it is lacking. If you have ever
found yourself frustrated, saddened or overwhelmed by a situation and said to yourself,
‘there ought to be a law’ to deal with this, you might want to create a special interest
group that addresses this issue or situation. To help you think in political terms, the last
page of this section includes a sample list of political interests and causes.
The stated goal of your interest group is to further the betterment of the United States by
furthering the democratic ideals of fairness, justice and equality of opportunity.
MISSION STATEMENT AND BACKGROUND ON YOUR GROUP
INCLUDE ALL OF THESE THINGS IN THIS ORDER:
1. Pick an interest and create a name for your group
2. Draft a mission statement for your group. These are usually a short paragraph
containing 3-6 sentences that get right to the point. What is your group’s social and
political role? Does your group seek freedom from prevailing social constraints (i.e.
expanding gay rights)? Or, does your group seek to impose limits to reduce freedoms and
increase social constraints on another group (i.e. convicted rapists/child molesters?) Online
sources offer sample mission statements; if you need help articulating your group’s
mission, use these as a guide.
3. Who can join your group? You decide. It can be open to everyone or to a select few.
(MENSA, for example, is a high IQ society whose members score in the top 98th
percentile in particular IQ tests). Determine and then state specifically how group
members will be selected.
4. In addition to the lobbyist you hire, how else will your interest group influence
politicians and the public? Letter-writing campaigns? Fund-raisers? Campaign donations?
Be specific as to how you will spread the word on your organization. What will your
group do to gain the support of the public? How will you get the public to listen and be
empathetic toward your cause?
4
SAMPLE INTERESTS/CAUSES:
(On the political spectrum, is activism for your interest group considered more ‘right’
leaning or more ‘left’ leaning?)
Abortion rights
AIDS
Animal Rights
Bullying (including Internet harassment)
Private Welfare/Corporate Welfare (bailouts, subsidies)
• i.e.: should government give bailouts
• i.e.: should government cease giving bailouts
Disabled rights
Drug addiction
Education
Eldercare Issues
Energy
Environmental Protection
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) [also addresses gender rights including GLBT rights]
Euthanasia (right to die issues)
Gangs
Gay rights
Grandparent’s rights
Gun control
Healthcare
Homeless issues
Immigration (i.e.. increased immigration rights or tougher restrictions)
PATRIOT Act challenges
Racism
Separation of Church and State (i.e. strengthening the political divide or closing the gap)
Mental healthcare reform
Sexism
Special interests (i.e.: Tobacco lobby, sugar lobby, gun lobby)
• more restrictions
• less restrictions
Tax reform
Unions
Utility Regulation
Veteran’s rights and benefits
Veteran’s healthcare
Violence
• in the media
• in video games
Voting rights
Wage Discrimination (i.e.: gender, ethnicity, age)
Welfare
5
SECTION III: HISTORY OF YOUR INTEREST/CAUSE
In this section write a history of your interest or cause. Be specific, and use examples.
Explain why your interest group is necessary in order to further the betterment of the
United States. In what way will it advance the democratic ideals of fairness, justice and
equality of opportunity? Explain why your group will succeed where others have failed.
Do careful research for this section. Find court cases, legislation, or public policy that
illustrate a history of unfairness that you will help rectify by establishing your interest
group.
Every interest group has its enemies. (For example pro abortion/anti-abortion groups.)
What are the groups that work in opposition to the cause of your interest group, the ones
who want your organization to fail? Be specific: name them. What are their arguments
against your cause and your organization? How will you counter (fight back against) their
arguments/attacks on your organization? How will you prevail over opposing interest
groups?
EXPLAIN THE NEED FOR WHY YOUR GROUP NEEDS TO EXIST – WHAT IN
HISTORY HAS CREATED THIS NEED?
6
SECTION IV: HIRING A LOBBYIST
As part of your political strategy, your group will hire a Washington lobbyist to
influence the votes of Congress members. Who will this person be? What are her/his
qualifications? Would a man or a woman be better to represent your group, or does it
matter? In the next section (Section V), you will draft a piece of legislation that you want
to see passed. The goal of your lobbyist is to influence politicians to vote for this
legislation. How will your lobbyist accomplish this goal? What will your lobbyist have to
do to gain the majority of votes needed to pass your legislation? Review the things that
lobbyists do to curry favor with legislators.
Draft a plan for your lobbyist and be specific about the steps she/he will need to
take to help your special interest group get its legislation passed.
YOU ARE HIRING A PROFESSIONAL. YOU CAN PICK A REAL ONE, OR
YOU CAN MAKE ONE UP. BUT YOUR CHOICE MUST BE REALISTIC.
OPRAH IS NOT A LOBBYIST. DO NOT LIST HER. OPRAH WINFREY
WINFREY WILL NEVER AGREE TO BE YOUR LOBBYIST. SHE ALREADY HAS
A JOB. SIMILARLY, BONO, GEORGE CLOONEY, OBAMA, DIANE FEINSTEIN,
HILLARY CLINTON, GEORGE BUSH, WILL NOT BE YOUR LOBBYIST. THEY,
TOO, HAVE JOBS.
7
SECTION V: DRAFTING YOUR LEGISLATION
In this section you are to draft either a federal bill you want to see passed or an
amendment you want to see passed that furthers your issue or cause. Whichever you
choose, a bill or an amendment, the steps will be different.
Bills do not need to be lengthy. Amendments tend to be even shorter.
Here is an example of an amendment that didn’t pass, the Equal Rights Amendment,
which was written by Alice Paul in 1923:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United
States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the
provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
If you choose to write a bill, then after writing it you will need to explain the process by
which your bill would pass both houses and become law (presuming that it would not
vetoed by the president).
If you choose to write an amendment, then after writing it you will need to explain in
detail the process by which amendments become law.
YOU MUST BE CLEAR AND PRECISE IN THIS SECTION: INCLUDE EVERY
NECESSARY STEP TO MAKE YOUR BILL OR AMENDMENT BECOME LAW.
Here are some sites to get you started in your research:

http://www.house.gov/

http://www.senate.gov/

http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/

8
SECTION VI: WORKING AT THE STATE LEVEL –– GETTING AN INITIATIVE
ON THE BALLOT
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH HERE
(1) In addition to seeing federal legislation passed in support of your interest group’s
cause, your group is also going to work on getting legislation passed at the state level.
Toward this end, you are to draft a state initiative (look on-line for examples) that will go
on the California ballot.
In addition to writing the initiative, you are to explain the process of how initiatives get
onto the ballot.
BE CLEAR AND SPECIFIC: LIST EVERY STEP REQUIRED FROM DRAFTING
THE INITIATIVE TO GETTING IT ON THE BALLOT.
BE SURE TO PROPERLY CITE YOUR RESEARCH – USE MLA STYLE
• CITE IN THE BODY OF YOUR PAPER
• ON YOUR WORKS CITED PAGE
9
SECTION VII: WORKING AT THE STATE LEVEL: RECALLING THE GOVERNOR
Your group is extremely dissatisfied with the current governor, who is staunchly opposed
to your cause. He continues to veto legislation that would further your cause. Explain
why he doesn’t like your organization. How is he hindering democracy?
You will launch a campaign to recall the governor.
EXPLAIN EVERY STEP IN GETTING THE GOVERNOR RECALLED.
WHO WOULD YOU WANT TO SEE IN OFFICE INSTEAD?
Only describe California, laws about other states are not relevant
How do you get the public to support this?
What is your strategy to get voters to the polls and vote him out?
BE SURE TO PROPERLY CITE YOUR RESEARCH
• IN THE BODY OF YOUR PAPER
• ON YOUR WORKS CITED PAGE
10
SECTION VIII: HOSTING A PUBLIC EVENT/CREATING A FLYER
GOAL: GETTING THE PUBLIC’S ATTENTION TO SUPPORT YOUR CAUSE AND
ORGANIZATION
Your interest group finds that it is not getting enough coverage by the media and
therefore the public does not know enough about your important cause. If the public is on
board with your cause, it will increase your chances of getting your legislation passed. It
will also likely increase donations and get you more volunteers.
For this section, you will plan a public event to bring attention to your cause. It may be a
rally, a demonstration, a protest, a march, a lecture, a political debate, a concert, etc. This
must be a lawful event.
Your REALISTIC plan needs to include these elements:
• Where will your event be held?
• Who is your audience? That is, who do you want to notice and pay attention to you?
• Who will participate at your event?
• How will you get enough people to participate? What will these people do to get the
message across to the public?
• Who will speak at your event and what will they say?
• Will someone perform at your event? If so, who?
• Are there any celebrities or politicians who support your cause and might be willing to
speak at your event? These would be people already on record as supporting similar
causes (i.e. Betty White and animal rights).
YOU WILL NEED TO CREATE AN ACTUAL PUBLICITY FLYER FOR THIS
EVENT
• It should be 8X10
• It should contain all the necessary information for people to attend:
time/date/place, parking, information on who will be there, food that would be served,
speakers, etc.
Because political ideology varies widely, it is likely that one or more groups will hold
counter-demonstrations in opposition to your cause. Who might these groups be and what
would they publicly say and/or do against your cause?
Be creative and not shy about getting your message out. You are fighting for democracy
and justice for a group of Americans who have not been denied these basic civil rights.
11
SECTION IX: YOU WILL PLAN AN ACT OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
YOU NEED TO BREAK THE LAW (ON PAPER)
Civil disobedience means performing a non-violent act in protest of what you think is a
moral/civil wrong being perpetrated against a group, individual, the environment,
animals, etc. Your goal is to bring attention to the wrong and in some way work to stop it.
For example, environmentalists have saved ancient trees from developers by occupying
(often for days or weeks at a time) the trees and not letting heavy equipment operators
knock them down. Animal rights activists have broken into labs and set animals free that
have endured horrific chemical or other experimentation. To fight racial discrimination,
‘sit-ins’ have been staged at restaurants, stores, and other businesses, wherein large
numbers of people occupy the space and business typically are forced to shut down until
the protestors are arrested and removed.
In planning your act of civil disobedience include these elements:
• who/what is your target, and why?
• what specific day and time will you choose to conduct your civil disobedience
and why?
• what are you going to do when you arrive on site at your chosen location? Do
you need to bring specific supplies to carry out your plan? What are the supplies you will
use and why?
• how many people will join you, or are you going to do it alone?
• how long will your act of civil disobedience last?
• would media attention help or hinder your plans?
• do you think you’ll be arrested? If so, what might your fine/sentence be?
• what would make your act of civil disobedience be appealing to the public –
why should they root for you and cheer your act of defiance?
• who will criticize you for your act of civil disobedience and what will your
response to them be?
12
SECTION X: WRAP UP:
You are now all Political Scientists. You have engaged in your most basic right as
Americans: political participation
Think of those we have studied and what their contributions have been: Fannie Lou
Hamer, the Chicago 7, Daniel Ellsberg, Valerie Plame and many more.
The Constitution lays the foundation for majority rule, but with protection of minority
rights. (You can thank the Framers for this, although it was not their specific intention ––
it was simply an outcome of their rational self-interest.) This outlines the basis for
fairness. It lays the groundwork for a democratic society. In practice, however, fairness
has proven to be more of a challenging process than a ‘set-in-stone’ guarantee and
requires the ongoing diligence of citizens to demand it.
The intent of this classroom exercise on ‘Political Passports’ is to broaden your political
access by giving you a basic blueprint to expand your civic engagement in forming your
own interest group, which we have learned carries far more weight than your individual
vote. Political power is in the collective interest and the collective vote.
Democracy gets its legitimacy through the consent of those governed. How do you
feel about what the government does? If you decide not to engage your rights on political
issues, that is exercising your political voice by means of a vote, interest group, or other
political involvement, then others will decide for you and your voice will not be heard.
The net result of losing the peoples’ voice, which diminishes legitimacy of rule in a
democracy, is losing the democracy to anther kind of regime.
In this section you are to summarize your thoughts on the US political process. What are
its strengths? What are its weaknesses? Where does it need improvement? What are
threats to the democratic process? What are the safeguards to the democratic process, and
are those safeguards doing an effective job?

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