Ryan Osbourne’s government students get a taste of life on  the campaign trail with end-of-trimester activity.

Chaz Russel’s presidential bid was dead in the water.

With mere days to go before the end of the second trimester, his campaign had secured only 205 delegates, falling far behind his opponent’s 1,067, but still he refused to merge with frontrunner Hunter Ford, whose campaign had tripled in size since the Iowa Caucuses.

Ford’s campaign had seen so much growth, in fact, that he had not one, but two vice presidential candidates.

Rather than join forces with the other remaining holdout to at least narrow the gap, Russel doubled down.

“Hunter and his campaign are very not in control of their lust,” Russel told his classmates. “They don’t know how to keep to themselves and their partners. … He’s a man with no control. He needs to be stopped.”

Both Hunter and his opponent-turned-running mate, Nenyorata Lategeluaks, had been plagued by accusations of a scandal reminiscent of the one that cast a shadow over former President Bill Clinton’s legacy.

“There are fate rolls that we do at the start of each round where we roll three dice,” Burlington High School history teacher Ryan Osbourne explained about one of the many components of the end-of-trimester caucus and primary exercise for his Government students.

Some of the outcomes for those dice rolls are good, such as having a campaign with a good grassroots strategy and follow-through, thus doubling the financial value assigned to each campaign member and

giving the team more money to spend on the campaign trail.

Other dice roll outcomes are not so great.

“All of those fate roll things align with actual either historical presidential political happenings or things that are traditionally occuring in campaigns, like maybe you’re accepting PAC money. With one of the rolls, you come out as atheist, which affects your ability to be successful because most Americans don’t show any willingness to vote for atheists, something along those lines just to help them understand some of the things that happen,” Osbourne said. “There is a roll where you have been caught in a Bill Clinton-esque situation, and so Hunter and Nenyo, who was also previously a presidential candidate, have a grand total of three times they’ve rolled that particular one.”

Despite those accusations, Ford’s campaign has flourished.

“When we first started, Hunter’s group was buying bigger states and ours was buying smaller states before we merged and it kind of helped us take over the map a little bit,” campaign strategist Dreyton Payne explained.

Fellow strategist Dilynn Taeger said that had been the plan from the start.

“We kind of knew that we were going to merge at the beginning, so we would strategize together, and we would go on bigger states and they would go on smaller states, so that way, we both have a chance of getting most states, and then when we finally were able to merge,

we had all those states already,” Taeger said.

In addition to bringing more members onto their team (presidential candidates are worth $100 and other operatives are worth $50), students can raise campaign funds — or spending points — by bringing in so-called artifacts such as yard signs or dinners with the candidate in the form of snacks like Rice Krispies Treats, pumpkin bars or cake.

“One of the things that our team is doing is deducting military tax rates to help fund education and food for America, so this is our way of showing that we’re true to that,” Payne said before passing out cookies.

Other artifacts consist of speeches and debates, the winner of which earns a pot of money for their campaign.

Each student is required to contribute at least three artifacts, and Osbourne assigns a dollar value to each depending on the amount of research and time spent on them.

The students also must create a campaign website to communicate where their candidate stands on the issues.

Ford’s team looked at existing campaign websites in planning for theirs and incorporated data on things like wrongful convictions, manufacturing, and immigration in layout out the candidate’s vision for America.

“It’s good because it gets them talking about actual issues and things that have happened in politics,” Osborne said. “It does show them something that really irritates me, which is that money largely wins elections, but also it shows them ways they can get involved and

things campaigns have to do to figure out how to make money and win over voters.”

The exercise keeps students engaged while learning about the election process and real-world applications of what they’ve learned throughout the trimester, when Osbourne delivers lessons on the three branches of government, different economic systems, and constitutional amendments in a more traditional fashion of lecture, discussion and debate.

“I think Mr. Osbourne did a really good job of explaining the election process and things that contribute to voting and how certain things can swing voting one way and certain things can swing voting another way,” Ford said. “And he’s done a good job on the money aspect of elections. A lot of the time, how much money a candidate spends on a state or going and speaking there, spending time there, they’ll end up winning the state because they’re going there speaking in person instead of just going through TV or something like that. Going in person and presenting yourself means a lot more than just presenting yourself on the television.”

Osbourne said that previous trimesters have ended with closer races, making the process a little more exciting. But even Ford’s runaway lead is a teaching opportunity.

“We mentioned the idea when the other groups merged that there is the potential for you to hold out long enough that even if you’re not going to win, you can deny Hunter enough delegates,” Osbourne said. “Talking about how like back in 2016 at the Democratic  Convention, there was a group of Bernie Sanders supporters who discussed the idea of if we can just deny Hillary enough delegates that we can get it thrown into an open vote or no one is beholden to voting for the candidate that they’re supposed to represent kind of thing. … It covers a whole lot of bases about how the primary caucus process works, and it’s fun. It’s kind of a nice relaxing way to go out of each trimester as well.”

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