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Videopaths Through Politics

Questions for Discussion

Unit 1: The Watergate Affair
  • Was the break-in at the Democratic Headquarters and the subsequent attempt at a cover-up sufficient grounds to impeach a president?
  • Was Nixon right in resigning from office following the committee vote, or should he have demanded a decision by the full House?
  • If Nixon had been impeached by the House, should he have fought to the end and demanded trial by the Senate?
  • Did President Ford act in the best interests of the nation by pardoning Richard Nixon?
  • Were Constitutional issues really involved in the Watergate affair?
  • Like Nixon, President Clinton's activities were investigated by an independent counsel (called "special prosecutor" in Watergate days). Were the charges against Clinton less serious than those against Nixon?
  • Unlike Nixon, who resigned to avoid impeachment by the House, Clinton was actually impeached (but not convicted by the Senate). Should Clinton also have resigned to avoid the stigma of impeachment?

Unit 2: Politics and the Media
  • Why do you think voters in the 1930s accepted President's Roosevelt's case for "government as the solution," whereas voters in the 1980s accepted President Reagan's view of "government as the problem"?
  • Has television contributed to the quality of election campaigns and to he quality of the candidates?
  • Was the demonstration at the 1968 Democratic National Convention a legitimate expression of unconventional political participation?
  • Did Mayor Daley and the police act properly in suppressing the demonstration?
  • Why was the 1996 Democratic National Convention so peaceful when it returned to Chicagfor the first time since 1968?

Unit 3: Presidential Popularity
  • Would John F. Kennedy's popularity have held up if he had been able to finish his term in office?
  • Why is it that people perceive Reagan as one of our most popular presidents when the poll data show otherwise?
  • Is there any relationship between presidential popularity and ability to get Congress to cooperate with the president?
  • Is there any relationship between presidential popularity and presidential "greatness"?
  • What chance is there that history will revise the public judgment of any of our least popular presidents?

Unit 4: Civil rights and Equality
  • If democracy means majority rule, why shouldn't a white majority be able to curtail the voting rights of a black minority?
  • Should social equality always take precedence over personal freedom in prohibiting all forms of racial discrimination?
  • Was non-violence the right strategy for the civil rights movement?
  • If Martin Luther King had not been assassinated, would he have been a candidate for president? If so, would he had done as well as, say, Jesse Jackson?
  • Women have also fought for social equality. How has the civil rights movement differed from the women's movement in relying on the federal government and in relying on its own leaders?

Unit 5: The Vietnam War
  • Would U.S. involvement in Vietnam have been any different if President Johnson had asked Congress for a declaration of war against North Vietnam?
  • Would the outcome of the war have been any different if President Johnson had granted the extra troops that General Westmoreland requested in 1968?
  • Was the "domino theory" validated in Southeast Asia?
  • What effect, if any, has the "Vietnam paradigm" had on American foreign policy in the Bosnian conflict?
  • What lessons might the Russians have learned from Vietnam when they invaded Afghanistan in 1980?