A Conversation About Politics
1. Someone who is more than 40 years older than you (cannot be someone who raised you). This can be a grandparent, aunt or uncle, neighbor, friend, someone from your church, old prof, or a new acquaintance.
2. Someone who voted for (or preferred) the major party candidate (Clinton or Trump) you opposed (ie, if you preferred Trump, talk to a Clinton supporter).
3. If you were raised outside the U.S., have a conversation with someone raised in the U.S. If you were raised in the U.S. have a conversation with someone outside the U.S. (I WAS RAISED OUTSIDE THE US SO I WOULD BE INTERVIEWING SOMEONE IN THE US)
The primary goal for this conversation is for you to learn from the person you are listening to. Yes, you will probably have a chance to say what you think, but this conversation is primarily about listening. I’ve listed some questions below to help spark your conversation, but feel free to go where the conversation leads you. You are not bound by these questions. You are not
required to go through each of the questions and you should ask questions that come up in your conversation that aren’t listed. This conversation should be interactive, meaning you’ll share your answers to questions too. Be sure to let your conversation
partner ask questions of you. This is intended to be relatively fun, so be creative and go where the conversation takes you! (Feel free to discuss things other than politics, but do spend some time talking about politics.) It’ll help if you take notes.
After your conversation, write a formal paper (2-3 pages) supporting a thesis based on what you learned from the interview. When thinking about a thesis, you might think
about the following questions. What did you learn? What did you think was most interesting? That will you think about differently now? Did you enjoy the conversation? Why or why not? Do the younger and older generations understand each other? Any
number of theses are possible (e.g., “My generation and the generations before us will never agree on political issues,” “The challenges facing the country today are significantly more difficult than those of the past forty years,” “Based on my conversation
with my great aunt, I have concluded that politics matters less to my life than my political science professor seems to think,” “Trump supporters and Clinton supporters have more in common than I thought,” “Democrats and Republicans have absolutely no common ground”).
Someone at least 40 years older than you
What is your first political memory? Who is the first president you remember?
What’s different about politics now than in the past? How have politics changed?
How have society’s political and social views changed over time?
What would you like to see happen by the time I have grandkids?
Do you think our generations understand each other?
What do you think is the most pressing political issue right now?
Why do you think some smart people disagree with the political ideas you hold?
Have you had any unique political experiences? Ever run for office? Ever work on a
campaign? Ever known/met any politicians? Ever written a politician?
Have you ever been in an interesting fight with someone over politics?
Do you think your voice has become more or less important in society?
How did you meet your spouse (if married)?
Someone who voted for or preferred the other party’s candidate
If the person knows you well you might ask…
Who do you think I voted for and why? [They will probably ask the same question to
What do you think was the most important issue for me?
Why do you feel differently about that issue?
How do you think our views came to be so different?
What do you think most needs to change about this country?
Are you uncomfortable about any aspect of how America is changing?
Do you feel ignored or misunderstood as a voter? If so, for how long?
What is a position my candidate held that you agree with?
What is a trait you find positive about my candidate?
What is something you don’t like about the candidate you supported?
Is there anything you are hopeful about in a Trump presidency?
Is there a goal Clinton talked about that you could get behind?
What do you think we agree on?
Someone raised in a different country from you
Here are some sites with good questions:
https://teflpedia.com/Politics_conversation_questions and https://printdiscuss.com/politicsconversation-questions/
How the paper will be graded
The paper’s grade will be determined by the following:
1. Did you clearly state a thesis? (if not, the most you can get is a B-)
2. How strongly have you supported your thesis?
3. To what extent does your paper convey depth of thought?
4. To what extent does your paper convey an overarching logic (paragraph-level
5. How clear is the paper’s language (sentence-level)?