With the inauguration of the next president quickly approaching and many teachers planning patriotic lessons of one kind or another, I would like to offer a few writing prompts (or discussion questions) for the occasion. These prompts are each based on a quote from President Obama’s farewell address to the country.
Quotes about Participation in Our Democracy
Quote: “Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.”
Question: In what ways do people sometimes take democracy for granted? Discuss some ways in which people could be more mindful of the value of our democratic form of government.
Quote: “(our Constitution) has no power on its own. We the people give it power . . . with our participation”
Question: List some things that individual citizens can do to participate in our government. How do these actions give power to the Constitution?
Quote: When speaking about the importance of citizens participating in our democracy, President Obama said that participation is important ” regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.”
Question: What did he mean by “the pendulum of power”? Why do you think it important to be an involved citizen when a candidate you supported is in office? Why do you think it is important when a candidate you opposed is in office? Discuss some ways that citizens can be involved in both of these situations.
Quotes about Being United
Quote: When explaining that democracy does not requite everyone to agree, he said, “Our founders argued. They quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same.”
Question: Suppose that you were a member of the US Congress. How might you try to compromise and work together with other members of Congress with whom you disagree?
Quote: “democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together”
Question: How is this same idea, that “we’re all in this together,” also apply to other situations, such as your school?
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