In this assignment, students are tasked with writing a position paper, in the form of a constituent letter, to their representative in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Overview

Regular Americans routinely write letters to their representatives in Washington, D.C. The purpose of these letters is to express support for, or opposition to, particular policy issues that the U.S. Congress is dealing with. In other words, the letter is an attempt to persuade the congressperson that he or she should adopt the position of the letter writer. If the letter writer successfully does this, then the representative will cast votes in Congress that their constituent letter writer would agree with.

You will need to give some thought to what makes a strong position paper. First, you should choose your topic carefully. You will naturally write a stronger letter if it deals with an issue that you actually care about. You should select a very specific topic, in the form of a specific bill, or other specific piece of legislation, that the U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering. Second, effective persuasion will require more than your opinion; you will need to present at least two items of evidence that support your position. Third, you will need to ensure that your letter demonstrates an understanding of the American system of government and the role that your representative plays in it.

Requirements

The letter must:

1) Take a position and argue for/against a bill/legislation/public policy that is of a particular interest/concern to you as a constituent member and more importantly, a citizen-voter.

2) Offer a clear position statement supported by at least two facts or two items of evidence.

3) Demonstrate a clear and precise understanding of the roles of Congress vis-a-vis other branches of government, and the workings in a federal system of government.

Instructions

The letter must:

1) Be addressed to YOUR Member of Congress’s proper Washington D. C. address. The following links can assist in researching your U. S. House Representative and bills/legislation/public policy.

http://www.house.gov/representatives

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/

http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

https://www.congress.gov/members

https://www.congress.gov/

2) Be error free (spelling, capitalization, grammar usage, formatting etc.)

3) Letter submission/due date: March 30th

Letters must be submitted in Courseden (assignments “writing assignment” folder).

Also be informed that Turnitin will be used to check for plagiarism, grammar, spelling, etc.

4) The body should be between 400-500 words in length

5) Typed and in a formal letter format

For example:

http://www.savvy-business-correspondence.com/BlockBizLetter.html

6) Formatted: Times New Roman- 12 point font, single-spaced, and 1 inch margins.

7) Be turned in on or by the due date otherwise 30% will be deducted on all late work. Assignments that are over 24 hours late will not be accepted.

Grading Rubric

The Letters will be graded following the “GRAS” rubric as follows:

25% G Grammar; no grammar and other errors including spelling, capitalization, formatting etc.

25% R Rhetoric; a clear statement of position with two supporting facts/items of evidence; facts/evidence must clearly support the statement.

25% A Analysis; includes referencing the right Congress Member, and providing a strong explanation concerning the importance of the bill/policy with clear linkage to the political context and to the role of the official.

25% S Synthesis; demonstrates a clear and precise understanding of the role of Congress vis-a-vis other branches of government, and the workings of our federal system of government.

The scoring rubric and be found here: Letter Scoring Rubric.

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