Month: December 2007

Topic Brief: New Hampshire Primary

By Logan Scisco

The presidential primary season is fast approaching and by the time next month’s briefs are released the chances are that the Iowa caucuses will have been completed and we will be mere days from the New Hampshire primary.  These two contests highlight the beginning of the presidential nomination calendar and despite the movements of primaries in Florida and California, both states have managed to retain their position as being first in the nation when it comes to presidential politics.

The New Hampshire primary is the first presidential primary conducted in the presidential nomination system.  Some extempers may say “I thought Iowa was,” but it is important to remember that Iowa operates under a caucus system and not a primary election system.  If extempers remain unclear on this issue or wish to explore these differences in more depth I would encourage them to check out the Iowa caucuses brief I wrote for the September edition of Extemp Question Central Extemp Topic Briefs.

This year’s New Hampshire primary date has been set for January 8th, a mere five days after the Iowa caucuses which will occur on January 3rd.  This means that the population of both Iowa and New Hampshire will have to endure presidential campaigning during the holiday season.  It also means that the losers in Iowa will not have the typical recovery time of several weeks before New Hampshire voters go to the polls.  These two contests have been put in such close proximity to each other due to states trying to become a more important part of the presidential nominating calendar.  Earlier this year, Florida moved its primary into January and California moved theirs to February despite threats by both major parties that they would lose delegates to their nominating conventions next summer.  Due to states moving their primary calendars forward, it has threatened the traditional positioning of Iowa and New Hampshire as the first presidential contests.  Therefore, instead of having the Iowa caucuses in late January and the New Hampshire primary in early February, the system has been tweaked to make these contests even earlier.

This brief will follow much of the same format as the Iowa caucuses brief in September.  I will discuss the history of the New Hampshire primary, how it works, and where the race for the presidency for each party stands at the current time.

Topic Brief: Latin America

By Michael Garson

Extempers can famously wax poetic about the problems in the Middle East or the rising Asian powers. Good extempers learn a moderate amount about sub-Saharan Africa to round-out their knowledge. Unfortunately, Latin America is trapped between being heavily reported and known for not being heavily reported. This gap usually results in extempers of all knowledge levels misunderstanding this pivotal area. While there are no nuclear threats and no rising global superpowers, the region does have a lot of mid-level powers that alter international relations.  Currently trapped in a seemingly endless struggle, the direction of politics and liberalism hangs in the balance. Since Latin America often gets its own round at major national tournaments, or shares one with Africa, it is vital that extempers learn as much as they can. Since prevailing themes are extremely significant in good speeches and question-writing, this brief hopes to provide the backdrop for Latin America’s current headlines.

The heavily thematic and causal nature of Latin America makes its history especially important. While this brief is certainly not meant to read like a history, it will highlight important historical figures and events. It is the job of every extemper to stay abreast of current events. Speeches that let these events on their own or speeches that heavily distort the historic significance of current events fall short analytically. Those who can explain why one particular view of the present is more accurate will be best able to succeed in extemporaneous speaking, and in critical analysis. For this reason, key themes and the philosophical highlights will be bolded and italicized.

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