Expanded Competition Prompt Ideas

Here’s a summary of possible ideas to get you started thinking about your submission. These ideas are simply meant as illustrations – not expectations for entries. Scroll down for fuller descriptions.

  1. The “G” word: It seems like “government” has become a dirty word. What does government do well?
  2. If I were President…What would you do? Be your own Super PAC and create an ad.
  3. Founders’ intent: Respond to any Presidential quote… from the past 236 years.
  4. That’s debatable: Point to the same set of facts, and acknowledge two opposing interpretations.
  5. Moving Data: Creatively visualize a set of data or statistics, or explore the stories behind them.
  6. Off the agenda: Bring up a topic that is critical to our country’s future, but absent from the debate.
  7. Roots & Remedies: Identify a problem, and propose a solution (or constructive suggestion).
  8. All politics is local: Where do you see democracy at work in your community?

A Day Without Government

What would a day without government really be like?

One opinion today is that the government does more harm than good. Others insist that government has a vital role to play in our lives. What does our government really do on a daily basis? What would a day without government actually be like?

Where to begin? Learn more about the various organizations that make up Federal
and state governments here:

A-Z Index of U.S. Government Agencies
Directory of state and local government agencies

“If I were President…”

What would you do?

Many people – from major party candidates to hip-hop artists – have announced their plans for Day One as President of the United States. Now, it’s your turn. What would you do on your first day in office?

(Entries must be grounded in fact and take into account the powers that the President of the United States actually wields.)

I Voted: The Remix

Create a statement about what voting means.

The right to vote is what makes the U.S. a free democracy. As the 2012 election nears, it’s not yet clear to what extent new voting requirements adopted in several states will affect the participation of eligible voters. Create a short media piece that explores the meaning of voting.
For inspiration, check out Video the Vote:

Video the Vote was created in response to the voting irregularities of the 2000 and 2004 elections. Each election year, Video the Vote recruits a team of more than 3,000 filmmakers and citizen journalists who use video to document irregularities at the polls in the weeks leading up to the election, and on Election Day itself. View their latest videos here.

Founders’ Intent

Respond to one or more quotes about the role of government from one or more of the United States’ 44 Presidents.

Over the last 236 years, the United States has had many executives. Each one reflected the era in which they lived. They had their own visions for the country, and their own philosophies about governing.

Create a short media piece that responds to one or more quotes about the role of government from one or more of the U.S.’s 44 Presidents.

Here are some quotes to get you started:

  • “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington
  • “The happiness of society is the end of government.” – John Adams
  • “That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.” –
    Thomas Jefferson
  • “The problem to be solved is, not what form of government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect.” – James Madison
  • “Internal improvement and the diffusion of knowledge, so far as they can be promoted by the constitutional acts of the Federal Government, are of high importance.” – Andrew Jackson
  • “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • “It is the responsibility of the citizens to support their government. It is not the responsibility of the government to support its citizens.” – Grover Cleveland
  • “Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little.” – Warren G. Harding
  • “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • “If government is to serve any purpose it is to do for others what they are unable to do for themselves.” – Lyndon Baines Johnson
  • “Truth is the glue that holds governments together. Compromise is the oil that makes
    governments go.” – Gerald Ford
  • “Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. People have the right to expect that these wants will be provided for by this wisdom.” – Jimmy Carter
  • “Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing.” – Ronald Reagan
  • " Today we can declare: Government is not the problem, and government is not the solution.
    We, the American people, we are the solution." – Bill Clinton
  • “Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States.” – George W. Bush

Moving Data

Creatively visualize a set of data or statistics, or explore the stories behind them.

The news cycle is filled with numbers: public opinion poll results, unemployment rates, crime statistics, campaign spending. Create a short media piece that delves into these numbers, and helps to make sense of them, in a real-world context.

Here are some ideas to get you started, courtesy of the Pew Research Center on People and the Press:

Partisan Polarization Surges in Bush, Obama Years: Trends in American Values: 1987-2012

The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election

Growing Gap in Favorable Views of Federal, State Governments

That’s Debatable

One fact. Two interpretations.

Have we forgotten how to exchange differing points of view in a constructive way? Can people with contrasting views reach a constructive conclusion? Create a short media piece that points to the same set of facts, but acknowledges two opposing interpretations.

A Message from the “Fill-in-the-blank” Super PAC

Bring up a topic that is critical to our country’s future, but strikingly absent from the debate.

This election season billions of dollars will be spent on media to convince us to vote one way or another. But not every issue gets put on the table. What would you tell the country in 30 seconds of national airtime? Create a short media piece designed to call attention to this issue.

All politics is local
Where do you see democracy at work in your community?

National politics gets most of the limelight, but are there lessons to be learned at the local level? Create a short, creative media piece that explores what is happening on the ground at the state, county, city, and district level.