Since we are now awash in the colorful language of our American politics, we should bring it into our classrooms. The first four of these terms occur in Word Web's Volume II, lesson 7. If your older students are aware of canvassing taking place in other countries, ask them to give a brief report to your class. Are they able to describe a local example for the other terms? Perhaps these would be good exercises for your upcoming spring break!
I'll start with canvass, a verb meaning to go through an area talking to people so as to gather information or opinions, to ask for votes, or to take orders for a product. Well, we know various U. S. candidates and their supporters have been doing this for many months. Find out if any of your students have taken part in a canvass for any reason, not necessarily political, but perhaps as a Girl Scout canvassing for cookie purchasers, or as a member of another organization canvassing for another reason.
Dark horse is a great for any type of race. In horse racing, it means one whose capabilities and chances of success are not known; hence, an unknown or little-known competitor who unexpectedly wins. On the national level, there have already been a few dark horses. Some have dropped out as I write; others may do so before long. How about persons in local elections? Has someone relatively unknown suddenly taken the limelight? Have any of your students canvassed for a dark horse?
Lame duck, an elected official at the end of his last term, creates an interesting picture in our heads, as in someone limping along the wayside. A lame duck is a politician, such as a senator, representative, mayor, governor, or the President of the United States, who is in office after an election in which he was not re-elected, either because he was defeated, decided not to run for office again, or was not allowed to do so by law. The lame duck session of Congress occurs during the period of time between the election in November and the date in January when newly-elected legislators take office.
Ask your students when does the President of the United States automatically become a lame duck? (As soon as he begins his second term in a row, George W. Bush has been a lame duck since the election in 2004.)
Grass roots, meaning from the ground upwards, the very foundation or source, composed of ordinary people, or not with the leaders or those in power, have been springing up all over the country. Whom can your students name as being a grass roots effort in your part of the country?
Incumbent (n) (a planned word for Volume V): A person who currently holds an office, then runs for another term. The incumbent was reelected to another term. Students should be able to name or research local politicians or office holders of some organizations in your area who expect to be or have been incumbents in the past. Is there anyone in your town who is an incumbent for an office?
These are my Ellie'sWord questions for this time.