Full disclosure: I didn’t watch the debate this week. Hearing Romney and Obama deliver talking points was not going to inform my vote. If I end up choosing between these two candidates, there is no doubt who I would vote for.
Having said that, I am curious to watch the expanded debate put together by Democracy Now. In their debate, they paused after the responses from Romney and Obama to give two other candidates opportunities to respond. These candidates are Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party and former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.
If I were doing a debate / election activity with my class, I would absolutely include information on candidates other than the big two. In addition to giving alternative viewpoints on the issues, this approach could also lead to discussions / activities on campaign financing and ballot / debate access. Many students associate America with words like “free” and “democracy” and they might be interested to know how our political system actually works.
I taught a Global Issues class during the last election, and one of the activities I had my students do was to take a quiz to find out which candidate they most supported. Beforehand, we went through the issues and vocabulary covered on the quiz, which was a great source of meaningful content. A good quiz for this election cycle is iSideWith.com. It offers somewhat nuanced answers and includes six candidates. It also has a feature where you can compare two candidates. Both of these sites would be a great starting point for an activity presenting students with a more diverse view of the American political landscape.