Before this year, I was vaguely interested in politics, but had never really followed the specifics or the elections. During or unit on the election, I learned about the many different factors that help a candidate win over voters, and about effective campaigning strategies. I learned about how there are new strategies that have formed because of technology, such as having an online presence amongst young voters. However, a lot of the strategies are very timeless, and date back to elections in ancient Rome, such as making lots of promises to voters. We applied these strategies to the then current election of Obama and Romney, which was very cool. Generally, I just hear about the big issues in an election, like the war in Afghanistan and the economy. In class, we studied 17 different current campaign issues and learned about how they might have effected the course of the election. Although I could not vote this election, it was the first time that I felt like I was participating on one. During the other elections, I had usually just found out who won the next day without paying much attention. Although the polling site I was sent to only represented a small portion of voters in this country, I still felt like it gave me an idea of what was going on, in terms of what factors voters considered important for their candidate.
Recently, we have been learning about the expansion of Presidential power. Before this unit, I honestly did not even know that the expansion of Presidential power was a thing. I assumed that although the responsibilities of the President have changed because of the evolution of technology and world politics, their power in general would not really change that much. It was very interesting to see the chart on how much the cabinet positions have increased, and to learn about what has changed in terms of the Presidential attitudes, as evidenced by what they say in their inaugurations, and other interviews. One example is Nixon saying that "when the President does it, that means it is not illegal." Throughout this course, my understanding of Presidential politics in the US evolved from a vague interest in politics to actually understanding a lot of the issues, techniques, and factors that contribute to how the politics actually work.