Politics for the Non-Political Person

third year pooja gohel

photo by daniyal tahir

photo by daniyal tahir

Politics are difficult. Politics are illogical, frustrating, and disheartening. Simply reading morning headlines can be fairly depressing and it is often easier and tempting to completely disengage. There is no easy fix to force yourself to keep with the news, but there are things to keep in mind that might make it easier.

  1. There is no way you will ever know everything. And you don’t have to. Very few people are experts on all of the issues that come up in modern politics. Different spheres of issues in politics such as healthcare, foreign policy, education, space exploration, and climate change, just to name a few, encompass such an enormous wealth of knowledge and information. This can often be overwhelming and make you feel as though there’s no way you can ever know enough to have an informed opinion. But, you don’t have to know everything. It’s okay to pick a few, or even one thing that you care about. Chances are, someone in politics makes decisions that affect this thing, that affects you.

  2. You don’t (really) have to get caught up. Although it can feel like you just don't know what is going on because you don’t know what already has happened, you don’t have to spend a lot of time educating yourself about things that have already happened-if you don’t want to--because, again, this can be overwhelming. Although past events are often brought up, and understanding current past political events can affect how you perceive current events, you have to start somewhere. Politics don’t stop. Issues are ongoing. Therefore, by simply choosing to engage today, and tomorrow, and then the days and weeks after, you can easily build up a base of knowledge.

  3. You get to decide how to consume politics. If you hate reading, listen to a podcast. If you don’t like to simply read facts, opt for sources known for compelling and engaging writing, such as Vice. If you don’t want to look around, subscribe to something like The Daily Skimm, which sends you an email every morning with all of the latest news.

  4. Some news sources are better than others. One of the most frustrating things about politics is bias. It can be incredibly tiring to sort through coverage of the same story to figure out what the facts are. However, some news sources are known to be more accurate and less biased than others. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and PBS are just a few that fall on both sides of the political spectrum, but that all have a minimal amount of bias. If you want to know more, take a look at the graph of news sources ranked on both bias and accuracy. -is there a better way to put the last sentence in there? A better way to reference the pyramid graph?

  5. Vote! It’s the only multiple-choice test where there is no wrong answer.