This fall marks the culmination of a series of three classes that have been offered at Colby looking at the 2012 election. Starting last fall this series began with a class looking at presidential nomination politics, which took place during the “invisible primary” season. Last spring was a class on campaign finance: looking at the effects of money on politics. Right now I’m in this last class looking at the presidential election – and I have to say, it’s awesome. It doesn’t even seem like a class to me – it’s more of like something fun I’d do in my free time. After every class I go back and watch Jon Stewart and sometimes Colbert, and I feel like I have a good chunk of almost three hours each day I have the class studying the election.
While the first two classes have had a pretty typical make-up – mostly government majors and people who are intent on studying politics – our professor decided to do something different this class. Despite having a ton more people signed up for it than could fit in the spots we had, he decided to only enroll about half government majors, and then tried to make the rest of the class made up of people who were bio majors, sociology majors, physics majors – in an attempt to get as diverse opinions as possible about the topics we would cover. This has created a pretty cool effect, I think, and from reading a lot of posts on the forum we have, things are definitely different than a usual class offered by the government department. We also get to watch the debates on the big screen in a classroom – and get free food – together as a class. The first one was on Wednesday as most of you probably know, and the experience was awesome.
Our professor is probably one of the most qualified people in the country to teach the series of classes, especially when it comes to campaign finance, and thus it’s amazing to be able to conduct our own research projects each semester under his guidance. Fall of last year, I looked at what the effect would be of the Michigan and Florida in the 2008 presidential election would be on 2012. Last spring, I spent a ton of time looking at what you could call a semblance of coordination between independent fundraising entities (Super PACs, 501(c)4’s, and joint fundraisers) and the campaign. Doing this only two years after Citizens United and SpeechNow made this very state of the art research and I may go back to further this research this semester. I might also choose a different topic though – I was thinking it would be extremely interesting (and probably a little painful) to look at news pundits such as Bill O’Reilly, Rachel Maddow, and others on MSNBC and FOX news. I’d most definitely include Jon Stewart in there just for kicks. He is, after all, more legitimate than any of them. I love the Daily Show with a passion that is unrivaled.
Edit on October 12, 2012 at 12:21 A.M.: If you guys are interested, here is a link to my post-debate analysis of the VP debates. I whipped it up pretty quickly. http://t.co/wRjSHmEX