25 Essay Topics for American Government Classes

Writing Ideas That Will Make Students Think

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You're searching for essay topics to assign to your U.S. government or civics class -- and you're struggling to for ideas. Do not fret. It's easy to integrate debates and discussions into the classroom environment. These topic suggestions provide a wealth of ideas for written assignments such as position papers, compare and contrast essays and argumentative essays. Scan the following 25 question topics and ideas to find just the right one. You'll soon be reading interesting papers from your students after they grapple with these challenging and important issues.

25 Topics

  1. Compare and contrast direct versus representative democracy. 
  2. React to the following statement: Democratic decision-making should be extended to all areas of life including schools, the workplace and the government. 
  3. Compare and contrast the Virginia and New Jersey plans. Explain how these led to the "Great Compromise." 
  4. Pick one thing about the U.S. Constitution including its amendments that you think should be changed. What modifications would you make? Explain your reasons for making this change.
  5. What did Thomas Jefferson mean when he said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants?" Do you think that this statement still applies in today's world? 
  6. Compare and contrast mandates and conditions of aid in terms of the federal government's relationship with states. For example, how has FEMA delivered support to states and commonwealths which have experienced natural disasters?
  7. Should individual states have more or less power compared to the federal government when implementing laws dealing with topics such as legalization of marijuana and abortion
  1. Outline a program that would get more people to vote in presidential elections or in local elections.
  2. What are the dangers of gerrymandering when it comes to voting and presidential elections?
  3. Compare and contrast the major political parties in the United States. What platforms did they use in the last presidential election? What policies are they preparing for upcoming midterm elections?
  4. Why would voters choose to vote for a third party, even though they know that their candidate has virtually no chance of winning? 
  5. Describe the major sources of money that are donated to political campaigns. Check out the Federal Election Regulatory Commission's website for information.
  6. Should corporations be treated as individuals in terms of being allowed to donate to political campaigns?  Look at the recent Citizens United ruling.  Defend your answer. 
  7. Explain the role of social media in connecting interest groups that have grown stronger as the major political parties have grown weaker. 
  8. Explain why the media has been called the fourth branch of government. Include your opinion of whether this is an accurate portrayal.
  1. Compare and contrast the campaigns of Senate and House of Representatives candidates.
  2. Should term limits be instituted for members of Congress? Explain your answer.
  3. Should members of Congress vote their own conscience or follow the will of the people who elected them into office? Explain your answer.
  4. Explain how executive orders have been used by presidents throughout the history of the U.S. What is the number of executive orders issued by the current president?
  5. In your opinion, which of the three branches has the most power? Defend your answer.
  6. Which of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment do you consider the most important? Explain your answer. 
  7. Should a school be required to get a warrant before searching a student's property? Defend your answer. 
  8. Why did the Equal Rights Amendment fail? What kind of campaign could be run to see it passed?
  9. Explain how the 14th Amendment has affected civil liberties in the United States from the time of its passage at the end of the Civil War.
  10. Do you think that the federal government has enough, too much or just the right amount of power? Defend your answer.