Tag Archives: teaching

Third-party scenario 2012

Consider this hypothetical scenario — not altogether implausible – that I have tasked to my American Government students analyze on their final exam. It adds color to the question David Gregory posed to Ron Paul on Meet the Press (12/11/11). The key question is bolded in #2 below. COMMENTS WELCOME!

June 2012. A lengthy, divisive primary contest concluded, Romney wins narrowly to clinch the Republican candidacy for President in 2012.  Undaunted, Rep. Ron Paul announces he will continue his campaign through the general election as the Libertarian Party candidate, together with billionaire Mark Zuckerberg (CEO on leave from Facebook) as his Vice President candidate. The Libertarian ticket of Paul/Zuckerberg (PZ) enjoys strong support from fiscal conservatives and libertarians sympathetic to the Tea Party movement. It appeals to many Occupy Wall Street supporters including young, unemployed males and affluent professionals. With Republicans divided over their nominee and Democrats less enthusiastic about Obama than ever, the environment appears promising for the third party campaign.

Assignment: PZ Campaign Manager Carol Bartz (ex-Yahoo CEO, UW-Madison grad) has hired and tasked YOU to write a strategy memo based on your knowledge of American government. The Libertarian party aims to build a national organization capable of impacting the 2012 election, expanding its support without losing its core, and winning the Presidency in 2016. The U.S. political system presents certain challenges and obstacles to this sort of campaign. Analyze these challenges and obstacles, and assess Libertarians’ prospects for success, as realistically and precisely as possible, as follows: 

  1. Generally, what has been the history of third party campaigns in 20th century U.S. elections?
  2. What role do political parties play in American elections? What would the Libertarian party need to do to endure as a major force beyond 2012? Assess the chances for success.
  3. How does the Electoral College (EC) work? What does a third party need to do to win EC votes? Polls show 15% of US voters now support PZ. Consider which areas, demographics to target.
  4. In what ways does today’s media environment offer opportunities and/or pose challenges for a third party Presidential candidate?


  1. Fundraising: We will need $150 million to fund our campaign operations through November. Please advise on the legality and political advisability of each of these four potential avenues that we are considering:
    1. Industry PACS (petroleum, bankers groups, Chamber of Commerce). Advisable?
    2. Mark (Zuckerberg) is worth $17 billion. Is it legal for him to give $150 million? Smart?
    3. Find 150 donors among the 1% of wealthiest Americans. Soros, Gates, etc. can easily do $1 million. But is it legal? How can we make that work for the campaign?
    4. Grow small donor base. Which segments to target? What positions to attract them?

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MATC: Matt @ TECHnical College

I have been having a field day lately with tech applications as I make the most of my institutional toe-hold in Madison.

Madison Area Technical College is a public community college with over 15,000  students, a string of 8 or 9 campuses across south and central Wisconsin, and a deep bench of IT and human resources for technology.

A few of the innovations I am working on in my teaching:

  • In my course on American Government, we use Cisco Telepresence so that I simultaneously teach to two classrooms at West Madison and Watertown 45 miles away. In each of the two identically designed classrooms there are three giant screens below cameras with mikes throughout  and controlled audio so that two-way video-conferencing works quite well. I am learning the ins and outs, virtues and pitfalls of this technology. It has great potential, I think, particularly for global studies.
  • I am training to design and teach Hybrid courses, which combine online education and traditional “face-to-face” teaching. This is a hot trend in higher education, since it saves money for the institutions and is popular with students and faculty alike. Supposedly many students have been learning more effectively when not required to warm seats in lecture class for 40+ hours a semester – egad!
  • The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at MATC has a fabulous team of educators. Experts in all things Teaching and Tech. They have been teaching me how to work Google, Windows and iPad programs – as well as all the rest here – with great patience and indulgence.
  • Virtual visitors: I aim to develop a capacity to “Skype In” guest speakers to my class. For example, let’s say I want to have Mark Nichols talk to my class about his new work on India’s foreign policy (I always think of Mark for this because he is such an insider and such a good talker). But Mark is in Washington and not in Madison. The idea is to have him video-call in live to present to and converse with students. I am keen on finding a way to give the virtual visitor a video of the class,  to enable him or her to see the students and directly engage them.  My CETL friends tell me that we can do this on the phone using Telepresence and get a live two way feed between the Virtual Visitor and the classrooms at both of the two campuses – but that is just for a phone call, not yet with a video link. I am sure it is technically possible, and bet it would be quite easy. Does anyone have any ideas or know anyone who is working on this?

Your thoughts and comments welcome.

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