"The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty." - James Madison
Need to review the role of policymakers before you begin? Check out Policy Making: Political Interactions, for a brief outline of the process by which policymakers influence and enact public policy.
Start your research by gathering basic biographical information. This is background research using general reference tools and should not account for the bulk of your bibliographic resources. Try:
s9.com, an online biographical dictionary, is another open-edited source that provides basic facts and a timeline of significant activities/achievements. As with any open-edited resource, use this information as a starting point, but be prepared to discover errors as your research expands.
Sponsored by the producers of The Biography Channel documentaries, biography.com features brief biographies of well known people, including policymakers.
This type of broad search may result in heavily biased sources, depending on the author's perspective. It is important that you evaluate these sources. Consider author affiliations and demonstrated research practices.
Biographical research on Wikipedia?
The largest encyclopedia in the world, Wikipedia will likely feature biographical information on any public policymaker. Because controversial issues are centered around these individuals, use caution. Learn more about how to use an open-edited source effectively in our guide, What about Wikipedia?
Finally, biographies are, by nature, incomplete until after a person's death. Many policymakers have however, written memoirs that reveal much about their early influences and political careers. Try searching the Destiny Online Catalog
For more advanced search options, go to
Senate Page | Campaign
2016 Campaign | Senate Page \
Campaign Website | Progressives United
Senate Page | Campaign Page
Gubernatorial Page | Campaign Page
State Department Page
Senate Page | Campaign
Whitehouse Site | PR Website
House Page | PR Website
House Page | 2014 Campaign Page
House Page | Campaign Site
2016 Campaign | Senator
2016 Trump | Trump Organization
Office of the Governor of Wisconsin
Today's policymakers (and the staff that support them) rely on social media to promote their stance on policy to supporters. Because most people support the general ideas promoted by the pages they like/follow, the comments left offer the policymaker a means for testing the reaction of their base. Does your policymaker have a Twitter account or Facebook page? These social media feeds can also be a good source for researchers in determining what issues are their policymaker is currently focusing on.
Search for your policy maker by name (in quotes if the individual is lesser known) along with the keyword "twitter."
Note that you may encounter more than one account, depending on your policy maker's role. As audience may vary for each account, it can be useful to compare feeds.
Search for your policy maker by name (in quotes if the individual is lesser known) along with the keyword "facebook."
You'll likely encounter facebook pages that support and condemn the policies proposed by your decision maker. Be sure to differentiate between pages maintained by the individual (and his or her staff), pages that are maintained by affiliated organizations or friends, and pages that are maintained by retractors.
The success of any policymaker in enacting new policy relies on more than the policymaker's personal stance. Public reaction and pushback from opposing policymakers and interest groups influences both strategies and outcomes. Use news sources (newspapers and other news media) to discover the effect your policymaker is having.
Checking the News
Researching policy debate
|Click here to access|
Who is OnTheIssues? This non-partisan organization does some of the work for you. Volunteers comb the internet and other media sources for news, press releases, speeches and other information related to the candidates in the spotlight now.
Found a promising resource with not-so-great navigation tools? Try using this google search trick.
In the Google search box, type site:followed immediately by the main domain address for the site you'd like to search. Hit space and add your search term(s). For example:
site:jsonline.com walker menards will yield all of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinnel's news coverage (including op/ed) of your topic.
site:http://www.wisc.edu/ walker will yield any information, posted by the school, the professors, or even students, that is hosted on the UW domain servers.
Examing policymakers, understanding the stances they take and putting a public check on their power requires perspective. And perspective requires information. The push for transparency in our government is an outgrowth of living in an information age where people have become accustom to not only consuming information, but also to adding their own voice. There are many sources available to the American public today that empower citizens to check political spin against policy actions. Consider using one of the sources below to more carefully consider the information you've gathered as you prepare your own analysis of your policymaker.
Listen to, watch, and read the words of speeches made by historic policymakers. Organized alphabetically by speaker's first given name.
Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin
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