My American Government class has an assignment for next week. Perhaps you would like to do it as well.

Internet Project 1. Visit the official websites of the Democrat and Republican parties, plus one other party of your choice. Answer these questions: 1. the frontpage of the site creates what impression, takes what tone? 2. what issues are most important to the party? 3. what are the party positions on major issues? 4. what solutions to national problems does the party propose?



More below for those of you who can't/won't visit the sites.

The Dem site has one picture on the front--George W. Bush. The overwhelming impression and tone of the front page is that Republicans are evil and we hate them.

The Dem agenda listed primarily consists of blasting Republicans and offering platitudes, not specific action steps. For example:

We will end the Republican culture of corruption and restore a government as good as the people it serves, starting with real ethics reform. The Democratic Party is committed to real ethics reform and meaningful campaign finance reform that protects our rights and ensures that elected officials act ethically -- not just within the law, but within the spirit of the law. Democrats offer an aggressive reform package to reverse Republican excesses and restore the public trust. We are committed to immediate change to lead our country in a new direction, to put an end to Republican business as usual, and to make certain our nation's leaders serve the people's interests, not special interests. For us, this commitment spans our lifetime, as we were elected to represent the people, not the powerful. Our goal is to restore accountability, honesty and openness at all levels of government. To do so, we will create and enforce rules that demand the highest ethics from every public servant, sever unethical ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, and establish clear standards that prevent the trading of official business for gifts.

Notice that the majority party in Congress should be able to do these things now; at the least specific rules and laws should be proposed.

The Gop site features a big graphic link to news from Iraq. Once that link is clicked there are news features and attacks on Dems, using their own words. Issue presentations also lack specifics, but have a different tone, for example:

Social Security is sound for today's seniors and for those nearing retirement, but it needs to be fixed for younger workers - our children and grandchildren. The government has made promises it cannot afford to pay for with the current pay-as-you-go system.

In 1950, there were 16 workers to support every one beneficiary of Social Security. Today, there are only 3.3 workers supporting every Social Security beneficiary. In 2008 - just three short years from now - baby boomers will begin to retire. And over the next few decades, people will be living longer and benefits are scheduled to increase dramatically. By the time today's youngest workers turn 65, there will only be 2 workers supporting each beneficiary. Under the current system, today's 30-year-old worker will face a 26% benefit cut when he or she reaches normal retirement age. If we do not act to fix Social Security now, the only solutions will be dramatically higher taxes, massive new borrowing or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government programs. Just 12 years from now, in 2017, the government will begin to pay out more in Social Security benefits than it collects in payroll taxes - and shortfalls then will grow larger with each passing year. Within 25 years, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion a year to keep the system afloat. Within 30 years, the annual shortfall will be more than $300 billion a year. By 2041, when workers in their mid-20s begin to retire, the system will be bankrupt - unless we act now to save it. To keep the promise of Social Security alive for our children and grandchildren, we need to fix Social Security now once and for all.