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Karl Rove -- The Architect

» Student Handout

Devising Your Political Strategy

Note to Students: You will be creating a persuasive strategy aimed at a particular target group (see below) to either support or oppose President Bush's Social Security proposal. As a political strategist, your goal is to convince the people in your target group that they should favor the policy-maker's proposal for change. As you develop your strategy, be sure to consider ethics. [See definitions below from dictionary.reference.com]

  • A set of principles of right conduct

  • A theory or a system of moral values: "An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain" (Gregg Easterbrook)

  • Study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy

  • The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: medical ethics

Think about the following ethical considerations as you launch your political strategy campaign to inform and convince your target audience:

  • Should you disclose all information to all segments of society, even if constituencies have different needs and priorities?

  • Is omitting information acceptable, as long as you do not lie outright?

  • Is an explicit appeal to different ethnic groups, religions, or interest groups acceptable even if the appeal might divide the groups from each other?

  • Should you try, at all costs, to convince people of your proposal's validity? In other words, do the ends justify the means?


  1. Using the information you learned as you explored the Web sites and completed the handout "Understanding Different Views of Social Security Reform," create a presentation for the group you have been assigned. Remember, you are a political strategist whose goal is to convince your target group that your proposal is good for them. You are not making policy.

  2. Working with your group, create a cartoon, write a radio advertisement, make a video, write a political speech, or even come up with another idea -- as long as you are compellingly persuasive. Make your presentation to your class.

  3. As your classmates are doing their presentations, take notes below, writing down which facts they include and whether or not you think they are convincing.

  4. After the presentations are over, write a paragraph answering the "Ethical Considerations" questions below the chart.

The Intended Audience The Strategy and the Supporting Facts
Americans age 50 and older 
Americans aged 25-49 

Ethical Considerations:
Did any group omit information that you consider crucial?
Did the omission distort what you perceive as the accuracy of the presentation?
Is the omission ethical or not ethical?

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