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AP Government Experiences the Campaign Trail

Students in Brian Pitoniak’s AP Government and Politics class were recently on the campaign trail, pitting two rival candidates against each other. Kayley Carpenter, representing the All Tomorrow's Party and Clint Preslar, representing the Revision Initiative Party, experienced the many facets of conducting a presidential campaign which concluded with a vote by their peers to determine the winning candidate.

The candidates were charged with forming new political parties from the ground up, creating planks to build platforms, nominating treasurers to fabricate realistic figures of what the campaigns would cost, and nominating pollsters to conduct opinion polls on students in certain classes at Piedmont High School. Each newly-created party was comprised of the following roles:

  • Presidential Nominees: In charge of making key decisions and forming their planks for the campaign.
  • Political Advisor: Assigned to help the Presidential nominee make decisions regarding everything from foreign policy, border control, equal rights and giving critical input about the parties planks.
  • Treasurer: Given the task of allocating funds to run the campaign, and producing data and figures to display what the campaigns cost and how money is spent and distributed throughout the race.
  • Pollsters: Pollsters were designated to put together questions designed to ask people about their party planks and to see where people stood on certain issues. Polls created by the pollsters were given to classes for truthful results.
  • Campaign Manager: The campaign manager is given the difficult task of making sure all these positions do their job, and is also assigned to help the Presidential nominee make decisions. Their services can be offered to any position in which help is needed.

Both parties had to devise planks, on to which the platform of their party would be based. Parties focused on issues such as welfare, the environment, and foreign policy. The All Tomorrow’s Party focused on sanctions and peaceful diplomacy as listed in their planks below:

  • Sanctions on foreign powers who show aggression
  • Work diplomatically with powers such as Iran to end aggression and expand human rights for their peoples.
  • Encourage foreign powers of the Middle East to band together to stop Isis/Isil and other terrorist groups.

The Revision Initiative Party focused more on a swift end to the threats: “Boots on the ground to fight terrorism when proven necessary through national security threat (number of troops depending eminent the threat)”.

Both parties attempted to mirror the policies of real political parties, and to take on the role of these party members as close as they could. Political advertisements were also used to play a big role. Both parties took the initiative to set up social media, such as Twitter pages and Instagram accounts. Posters were made and hung around the classroom and school encouraging students to vote for the candidates. The All Tomorrow's Party even set up an official website that listed all the information needed. Both parties made campaign commercials attempting to earn votes through comical and serious videos. It was interesting for the students to see that social media was a major contributing factor.

When asked about this experience, Kristen DeBerry, who was a vice presidential nominee for the All Tomorrow’s Party, stated, “This was definitely an eye opening experience running a political campaign, and I’m glad I was able to experience this!” Likewise, Clint Preslar, Presidential nominee for the Revision Initiative Party, noted, “This project taught me of the many challenges and exertions that are required to be in a campaign. I had a great experience participating in this project and being the candidate for my party!”

Written by: Mason Kirkpatrick, AP Government Student
Posted: Apr 01, 2015 by Donna Helms

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