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Position papers

Basic unit of discourse

Your assertion

Your assertion

rhetorical part: assertion, support, explanation

analogy: pull out your gun, load, aim and shoot

Your evidence

Your evidence

An assertion is like a gun. Anyone can pull one out and start waving it around. By itself, an assertion is an opinion, all talk, lots of fervent belief, but nothing else. To make it more persuasive, all you can do it raise your voice, wag the gun more wildly.

The support is the bullets. It’s what you load your gun with. A loaded gun is a lot more threatening. It can, potentially, do a lot more damage than the gun by itself.

However, to effectively communicate, you need to pull the trigger. No matter how good your gun and your bullets, you’re never going to hit your target unless you pull the trigger. Your target is your reader, and that’s a singular “reader”, on purpose. You cannot shoot everyone with a gun. It’s pretty much one at a time.

Same with an essay. Don’t try to write to “everyone”. Write to one specific person, one reader. You need to explain what you want your reader to get out of the evidence. Then it’s not just your opinion against someone else’s. It’s your substantiated, explained opinion, which is more persuasive and carries more weight than the opinions of those wagging their guns at each other.

Assignment

due dates

October 14 – First position paper

October 28 – Second position paper

November 11 – Third position paper

What is your party all about? The voters want to know.

For each of these three position papers, focus on one of your platform positions.

Rhetorical modes: definition, comparison, process

Length: at least 750 words. If you have 100 words in the introduction and conclusion, that leaves fewer than 200 words for each body section, so think of 750 words as the minimum.

The title of this essay should be the name of your party followed a catchy expression of your platform position. For example, a platform position favoring social justice for mothers: Give Mom a Break!

Audience

The voters who would have put your party high on their list before they read the position paper.

Make them feel good. Your position paper will confirm for them that they made a wise choice supporting you.

The voters who could be persuaded to vote for you.

Make them think; give them a reason to favor you. Your position paper will tell them how to think about the evidence in such a way that they will be convinced to put your party higher on their list.

The voters who would have put you at the bottom of their list.

Make them uncomfortable; create cognitive dissonance. Your position paper will give them evidence that they may not know about or for which they have different evidence. Explain your evidence in such a way that they can at least respect your position. Your party will never be at the top of their list, so distinguish your party from the others at the bottom of their list.

Purpose

To help the voters decide where to rank your party.

Content

Given that these essays are a minimum of 750 words, there’s only so much evidence that you can offer. That makes your Works Cited even more important for readers who want to learn more.

All your claims should be supported with evidence. Otherwise, don’t include the claim.

Structure

As always, use the unit of discourse, an introduction, and a conclusion.

The body of the paper

First section: Define the problem or situation that your platform position is responding to. How big is it? How bad is it? Use statistics and models.

Second section: Examine related platform positions, especially those of other in-class parties.

Third section: Explain your proposal. How will it be implemented? Who much will it cost? How will it be paid for? Why and how will it improve the situation described in the first section?

Other structures could work better for your content. Whatever structure you use, retain a firm control over it by using the introduction and the transitions between sections to lead the reader through your thinking.