"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


well, here's a new one

I suppose this was inevitable.

After class today, my little darlings, who are apparently incapable of passing a sign-up sheet through the entire classroom over the course of 150 minutes of class time, were finishing choosing roles for the in-class presidential debate we'll do in a month or so. And one of them comes up to me to whine (there's no other word) about the fact that she can only choose between representing Barack Obama or John McCain.

Apparently I have a LaRouche supporter. Or so I assume. Ron Paul and Denis Kucinich are out, and she doesn't dress like a Bob Barr fan.

Can anyone think of a nicer response than, "Because my patience with exercises in futility is spent on hoping you'll correctly cite your sources in the paper"?


Blogger Douglas said...

Why is it an "exercise in futility" to let someone represent a third party candidate? Is voting/debating solely about picking the president who will serve from 2009-2012, or might there be a point to building for the future? Personally, I don't see what it would hurt to let her pick a different candidate to represent.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008 9:04:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

I have 25, 75-minute class sessions to cover every major topic in American and Texas politics. Given the logistical constraints of the debate (75 minutes, 18 topics) and the fact that the students work in teams and she's the only one who wants to do that, yeah, it's an exercise in futility. The goal of the assignment is for students to be well-informed voters, and to spend those precious minutes talking about candidates who have no chance of being elected just to make 1/155th of the class happy is a waste of everyone's time.

I do spend part of another class talking about third parties and how our election system makes it virtually impossible for them to compete.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 11:36:00 PM

Blogger Douglas said...

If including another candidate is logistically impossible, then that is certainly a good excuse. Personally, though, I'd be surprised if only 0.6% of students wanted to hear third party ideas, especially if the candidate is an established voice like Ralph Nader. Personally, I think such a situation would reflect either a strong dislike for the particular student presenting the ideas or a disturbing lack of independent thought within the class.

It is certainly not a waste of time to include third party opinions just because they have no chance of winning this particular election. By that logic, all democrats in TX, NE KS, etc. and Republicans in WA, OR and CA ought to not vote for President of the US, because doing so is an exercise in futility and will have no bearing on the outcome of the presidential election. Votes for third party candidates with no chance of winning a particular election are not exercises in futility if they can accomplish goals other than winning the particular race. Movements are not built overnight and new ideas often take awhile to gain the acceptance and support of one or the other mainstream political party.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008 11:53:00 PM


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