The President of the United States is the head of the executive branch of government. The President serves a four-year term and has the duty to carry out the laws the Congress pass and the ability to veto those laws before they pass. The United States Congress is the legislative branch and is responsible for creating the laws and the budget. It consists of two houses, an upper and a lower. The upper house, the Senate, is made up of two senators per state each of whom represents the whole state and serve for six years. The lower house, the House of Representatives, is made of a number of representatives based on the population of a state with each representative representing a specific district. Representatives serve two-year terms.
Federal elections are held every two years. Elections held in years where the President's office is not on the ballot are called "midterm" elections. Senators' terms are staggered such that only one-third of the Senate is on the ballot per election.
Indiana has a Governor and a Lieutenant-Governor who are elected every four years on the same ticket. The state congress is known as the General Assembly. Like the federal congress, the General Assembly consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. All fifty Senators and one hundred Representatives serve specific districts. Senators serve four-year terms and Representatives two-year terms.
Unlike the federal government, states are also permitted to include their residents in legislation directly through referendum. In Indiana, these are on the ballot as "Public Questions."
Local elections are often the least noticed of all elections, but local officials have the most impact on an individual's life. Local officials are in charge of streets, schools, parks, libraries, public transportation, zoning and building permits, property and vital records, among other everyday needs. Every local area is different, but wherever you end up living, take some time to familiarize yourself with local politics.
A resident of Monroe County may find themself under the governance of as many as three bodies, depending on where they live: county, township, and city. In Indiana, the structure of all three kinds of government are dictated by state law.
There are a lot more candidates on a local ballot than you might anticipate. Some are running for offices you might not have expected to be elected positions. Because of the way the terms of the offices are staggered, an election happens nearly every year even if the entire area doesn't always get to participate.
The executive officer of the City of Bloomington is the Mayor, who is elected by all city residents and serves four years. The legislative body is the Common Council (also known as the City Council). There are nine council members: six members who represent specific districts and three at-large members. Bloomington's City Clerk is also an elected position with a four year term.
The executive body of Monroe County is the three-member County Board of Commissioners. Each commissioner represents one district in the county. The County Council is the fiscal body. It approves budgets, controls county taxes, and may borrow funds. Four of the members represent specific districts and three are at-large members who are elected by all the county's residents. Commissioners and Councilors all serve four year terms.
School board members are also elected positions, but Monroe County has two school boards. Most of the county is served by the Monroe County Community School Corporation (seven members from seven districts), but the northwest corner that includes the city of Ellettsville is served by the Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation (five members, two from Richland township, two from Bean-Blossom township, and one at-large).
Monroe county is divided into eleven civil townships. Indiana townships are legislated by the state government. Not all townships in the state serve the same function, however. In Monroe county, townships are mainly responsible for fire protection and for emergency help for low-income residents. Each township elects one Trustee who is the executive. Additionally, the residents elect three members to serve on the Township Board. All four individuals serve four year terms.
In alignment with the University's 2020 Themester: Democracy, we present this series of playlists, each exploring and challenging the ideas, concerns, and limitations of democracy, both nationally and internationally. Through these songs, we consider and reflect not only on how democracy has been imagined and implemented across time, and on the ways in which groups across the globe have championed the promise of equality and justice under democratic systems, but also how democracies have fallen short of the very ideals that underpin them (and how they've been held accountable for those failures).
US Presidential Campaign Songs
Since the earliest days of American democracy, music has been utilized in political campaigns to draw supporters, create and shape political identity, and hype audiences at rallies. From John Adams’ “Adams and Liberty,” composed in the 1700s for his presidential campaign, to the usage of pop and rock music starting in the twentieth century, music has been a crucial part of a presidential campaign’s progression. The songs chosen are meant to represent a candidate, their ideas and policies, and the attitudes they hope to inspire. Listen to the evolution of the campaign song in American history from its inception to the 2020 election cycle in this list of iconic songs.
Herwick, Edgar B. “Sung Into the Presidency: A Brief History of the Campaign Song,” WGBH, 2016
Campaign Songs (Wikipedia)
Kasper, Eric T. and Benjamin S. Schoening. You shook me all campaign long: music in the 2016 presidential election and beyond (IUCAT)
Presidential campaign songs, 1789-1996 (Musical compilation of campaign songs, IU Libraries)
Conceptualizing Democracy in Song
Music has long been a powerful medium for political expression. This playlist compiles selected examples of American artists exploring and imagining the state of America in song across time and genre. Represented are both the hopes, dreams, and ideals that democracy promises and outcries at the injustice and oppression that nevertheless exist in the reality of America. What holds true across these selected songs is the ability and possibility of expressing many truths and perspectives freely, to cry out at the inhumane and to demand (and strive for) a better tomorrow. Explore how artists express these realities and hope for the equality and justice for all that our democracy promises (and sometimes fails to deliver).
Graff, Gary. “Durand Jones & The Indications Eye a Dim Dawn In 'Morning In America' Video: Premiere.” Billboard, 2019
Hiatt, Brian. “How Rage Against the Machine Created ‘Killing in the Name.’” Rolling Stone, 2020
Moon, Tom. “The Story Of Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On.'” NPR, 2000
Rojas, Eunice and Lindsay Michie, eds. Sounds of resistance : the role of music in multicultural activism (IUCAT)
Democracy Remixed: Voices of Women of Color
Too often in grand narratives (and playlists), many voices are left out. In this playlist, we've centered the voices of women of color across time and genre as they endeavor to speak out against and articulate the injustices and shortcomings of American democracy across history. In this music is both a ferocious condemnation of the various, interlocking systems of oppression that circumscribe the lives of so many and hope for a future defined by equality and justice. Explore how women of color have crafted political anthems that challenge American democracy to be accountable and inclusive.
Cade, Maya. “The Black Feminist Movement through Music,” A Tribe Called News, 2015
Hosking, Taylor. “Black women are creating urgent music for this moment. Here are the songs to listen to — and why they matter.” The Lily, 2019
Editors, “15 Top Civil Rights Songs That Promote Freedom and Justice for Black History Month,” Black Enterprise, 2020.
Mohamed, Suraya. “This is How I Feel: A Playlist by Young Black Listeners,” NPR, 2020
Cuando Tenga La Tierra: Democracy, Music, and the World
Finally, we would be remiss if we didn't consider the significance of music in democratic and revolutionary movements across the globe, outside (but not totally isolated from) the US political context. This playlist encompasses music from various nationalities, tied together by the performers’ involvement in a call for democracy. In South America throughout the 20th century, artists like Os Mutantes, Victor Jara, Mercedes Sosa, and Sol y Lluvia channeled their protest of military regimes into musical cries for democracy. In Eastern Europe, rock musicians played a crucial role in movements for democracy, and songs like “Wind of Change” became anthems for political movements in Russia, Poland, and Germany. In Africa, rock, funk, and jazz musicians used their music to challenge the oppressive systems of colonialism. This tradition carries into political movements of the present day in songs like “I Play the Kora,” a musical rallying point for equal treatment of women in Mali. In Jamaica, musicians used songs to voice their experiences of religious and cultural oppression under colonial rule and the inequality directly following independence. In Asia, performers have used music to further democratic movements as well, from the pioneering rock and folk music of Shin Joong Hyun in the late 20th century to the political anthems of Hong Kong’s fight for democracy recorded by Denise Ho in more recent years.
Jiayang Fan. “Denise Ho Confronts Hong Kong’s New Political Reality.” The New Yorker, 2019
Litchmore, Cam. “Why Mercedes Sosa is a Staple in Any Latinx Household.” Medium, 2020
Martin, Michel. “West African Supergroup Les Amazones D'Afrique Returns With 'Amazones Power.'” NPR, 2020
Redmond, Shana L. Anthem: social movements and the sound of solidarity in the African diaspora (IUCAT)
Here are some resources to start with if you are interested in the study of American democracy.
What does your district look like? How does it compare to others around the country? Find out!
The goal of Indiana University Bloomington's (IUB) Big Ten Voting Challenge is to increase student voter registration, non-partisan education, and voter turnout in November 2020 and beyond.
IUB's efforts to enhance student-citizens is part of the nationwide Big Ten Voting Challenge (BTVC) through which Big 10 schools are engaging in a friendly competition to see which campus rises above the rest in two areas: First, there is an award for the greatest percentage voter turnout among eligible voters on campus. Second, there is an award for the biggest improvement in voter turnout.
If you have questions about the BTVC or PACE, contact the office at 812-856-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be An Informed Voter! Virtual Democracy Gatherings
Hosted by IU Libraries, this virtual series will feature both internal and external speakers sharing further library resources and discussing a range of topics important to all voters.
Registration Assistance Drop-in Hours
Virtual drop-in hours for those needing assistance navigating the voter registration process and a chance to ask questions on identifying poll locations and hours, mail-in voting processes, and out-of-state voting.
8/26 - 10/5
Mondays through Fridays from 12:00PM to 5:00PM
Voting Literacy Drop-in Hours
Virtual drop-in hours for those wanting to discover and discuss valuable resources to help make informed ballot decisions.
10/6 - 11/3
Mondays through Fridays from 12:00PM to 5:00PM