Civics Standard Four 4-5a: Students will understand that in order to select effective leaders, citizens have to become informed about candidates’ qualifications and the issues of the day.
- For whom should I vote? Why? What is most important to me when I make this decision?
- How do I find out what a candidate thinks? How do I know if the candidate is right?
The focus here is on becoming informed about candidates for elected office. One reason is provided: electing “effective” leaders. Other reasons are avoiding leaders opposed to one’s interests and views, providing an indication of one’s policy preferences by being aware of the candidates’ policy stances, and keeping office holders in check with awareness of an attentive public. In other words, keeping informed about candidates serves as a means to communicate preferences and keep elected officials in check. Examples that illustrate the dangers of voters failing to stay informed about candidates would contribute to the understanding called for by the benchmark.
The means for becoming informed are also important to the benchmark. Attending candidate events and paying attention to stories in the media (TV, radio, newspaper, and magazines) are traditional means, but the Internet is fast becoming an important means of becoming informed about candidates.
An open-ended question that a teacher might ask in a classroom would be:
How might technology change the way a candidate campaigns for public office?