January 25, 2013
How has this course shaped your understanding of and interaction with presidential politics in the U.S.?
Before taking this course I did not have a clear understanding about how campaign finance worked, how the presidential election system worked, and what factors contribute to a president's power. In terms of campaign finance I was unaware of the tight restrictions placed on campaign finance. When I learned about the restriction placed on corporations by the Taft-Hartley Act, I was surprised but this restriction made sense to me. If corporations are contributing large sums of money there might be a relationship between them and the candidate to watch out of their interest. Another aspect of campaign finance I learned about was regarding the role of PACs. Before taking this course I was confused when I heard the announcer say that the ad was not associated with any candidate but now this makes sense to me. Furthermore, I learned the importance of grassroots campaigns. Before taking this course I knew about the electoral college system and interpreted it to mean that the American public did not have much say in their choice for president. However, grassroots campaigns have a large say in the end result of elections. Another part of this course that made me understand campaigns was the exit polling activity. I learned how exit polling data can teach candidates who to appeal to in future campaigns. Before taking this course I knew about the electoral college; however, this course gave me new knowledge about the electoral college. I never new of the advantage Wyoming had in the electoral college. Although they have few delegates, the population is over represented. Later on in the course when we discussed presidential power, I learned about the cabinets of presidents. I did not know that cabinet positions could be added. By adding cabinet positions, this can either increase the president's power or decrease it depending on how one looks at it. It increases presidential power because president's have a broader range on issues. It decreases power because then presidential duties are redistributed to others. I enjoyed taking this course after US history because we had touched on many of these concepts before; however, this course showed me the advantages and disadvantages of the American presidential system and process.