“If the election were held today, Joe Biden would crush [Trump]. Almost any other Democrat — including one named Generic Democrat — would also beat the man who runs an administration of kooks, quacks, criminals, drunks, wife-beaters and grifters.” T. Egan, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“Sadly, there remains a sizable constituency for incompetency on this scale — the look-the-other-way evangelicals, the get-yours-while-you-can corporate class, the-ditch-your-principles Republican office holders. They’re with Stupid, no matter how much Trump debases the office. But you can’t beat nothing with better-than-nothing.
Quick: What are Democrats for? Continuity With Change? Stronger Together? A Better Deal? Two of those are actual slogans of the national party, and one is from the feckless politician on ‘Veep.’
Surprisingly, the Democrats are thinking big for once. The ideas being tossed around are risky enough to be called bold: a guaranteed-jobs program, universal health care, a public option for banking, free community college.
But the best-known carriers of that message have problems. Nancy Pelosi is toxic in many a targeted red-to-blue district. Chuck Schumer sounds too much like a party hack. The presidential contenders all have weaknesses… People were sick of it in 2006 — when Democrats won the House in part on campaigning against the ‘culture of corruption.’
They were sick of it in 2016, when Hillary Clinton could not shake the stink of big finance-connected profiteering. And they are sick of it today, when more than half of Trump’s cabinet has engaged in questionable behavior…Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook showed some promise until we all realized that social media had been weaponized to destroy democracy.
The entrepreneur Mark Cuban? Haven’t we had enough of a reality show star playing at being president? This gets you to the bench of elected officials. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York, is a whirlwind of Big Ideas of late… She is coldbloodedly #MeToo, having shoved her former colleague Al Franken and the Clintons under the bus. And she has gotten ahead of the one-note socialist Senator Bernie Sanders on the idea of a job guarantee for everyone who wants to work. Sanders himself will be 79 on Election Day 2020 and is not getting any less cranky.
But don’t overlook the enthusiasm generated by the Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke or Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana. They’ve stood up for the basic right of health care, and against the wrong of more tax cuts for the rich — foundational positions favored by a majority of the country.
Another prospect is the Senate’s resident vegan, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. He’s got some Wall Street problems and is less populist than the mood of the country… That’s where Biden comes in, and why he cleans up against Trump in early matchups. The problem is that he will be 77 on Election Day…But maybe the current Biden is built to last, with just enough septuagenarian strut to end the dark age of Trump.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities:
Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about Joe Biden. Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- There’s a sizable constituency for Joe Biden.
- The look-the-other-way evangelicals are still present.
- Nancy Pelosi is toxic in many voting districts.
- We need a guarantee that jobs will be available for everyone.
- Another prospect is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
- But don’t overlook the enthusiasm generated by the Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.
- Some candidates wouldn’t need a slogan.
- Many rookie politians will attempt to run for the presidency in 2020.
- There are a vast number of voters that suffer from economic anxiety.
- Biden has just enough septuagenarian strut to win.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
Another ___is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey…In the same ___is the rookie ___Kamala Harris of California. She’s sharp,___, with the right balance of ___and intellect. But how would a California liberal play in Scranton, Pa.? A new study suggests that ___of cultural ___was a greater driver for Trump voters than economic anxiety — identity politics for aging___males.
WORD LIST: ego, displacement, prospect, white, Senator, class, dynamic, fear,
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- That’s where Biden come into the race.
- The problem is that he will be 77 on Election Day.
- There is that fear of cultural displacement.
- Surprisingly, the Democrats are thinking big for once.
- The ideas being tossed around is risky.
- The presidential contenders all have weaknesses.
- All candidates would need to be ethically clean.
- It might help if candidates was not from the political class.
- Surprisingly, the Democrats are thinking big for once.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- The article states: “If you were to go into a lab and create a perfect candidate for 2020, along with a popular policy prescription for this anxious decade, what would that look like?”
- In your opinion is Joe Biden the right candidate to run in 2020? Provide reasons for your answer.
- In your opinion what are the qualities that make a good presidential candidate?
1-Minute Free Writing Exercise
Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.