How to Learn about Politics


macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 1, 2005
Hi, I'm 14, almost 15. I've been finding myself wanting to get into the know how of politics lately. I would love to be able to discuss politics with adults. The only problem is that I don't know how to being learning about whats going on in today's day and age.
Should I start watching CNN? Reading articles online? What?

Any suggestions?



macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 1, 2005
Well, I think I need more of a "who's who & what's what" kind of start. Is there maybe a place online that describes who is who and what's what?


macrumors 6502a
May 8, 2005
Watch the news! Then check out something like Xin Hua and Aljazeera to compare how bias your country can be.


macrumors 6502
Jul 16, 2004
Milwaukee, WI
Find a survey to find out where you stand on the political scale (conservative right, liberal left), ask a history or social studies teacher...most of them have them.

Then absorb all you can via news and reading and such. If you are lucky, you might get the chance to go to a boys/girls state program where you setup a mock government and learn politics the old-fashioned way.

Just be forewarned, politics is very interesting but somewhat addicting. ;)

edit: Here's a good place to start...good ole Wikipedia

Dr. Dastardly

macrumors 65816
Jun 26, 2004
I live in a giant bucket!
Just pay attention to current events throughout the world and see what peoples policies are. Start with your own community, state, country, and branch off from there.
I would say start with your local news paper, find some headlines that jump out at you. Also the web is your friend when it comes to learning about anything. Especially when its news worthy. Hit up such sites as or They have a ton of short concise articles and seperated into general catagories for easy navigation.
Just remember its not all about memorizing facts and what not, its taking information and coming up with your own opinions on the situation.


macrumors regular
Sep 14, 2003
I think watching the news (CNN and other national news channels), and reading articles and forums online would be a good way to start. Important names will be mentioned often, and then if certain unfamiliar terms come up, you can look those up.

Trying to be unbiased, I would suggest you watch some of Fox New's conservative shows, in addition to CNN, and compare.

Still, you will be at a disadvantage when discussing politics with adults. Views change as you get older; especially when you are in the working world - and where in the working world you exist (white collar vs. blue collar jobs).

I also suggest everyone take an ethics/philosophy class in college. The things some people suggest are just awful, and would only hamper the evolution of society.


macrumors member
Oct 22, 2005
Unfortunately there are few sources out there these days that are unbiased. Asking questions is always a good way to learn information. While there's nothing wrong with watching the news or reading newspapers you have to keep an open mind and realize that most of them are biased to some degree. If you have any questions feel free to post them (probably in the Politics and Religion forum) and I'm sure people will do their best to answer them. :)


macrumors regular
Sep 13, 2002
What you need more than anything is a strong grasp of history, Western Civilization and US History in particular for a strong leaping point.

I would recommend picking up a book from the library or from a book store that broadly takes you through the most significant events in history. It is so crucial to have this to support you.

And I disagree with the others, avoid CNN and especially Fox, anything on TV for that matter. Read the New York Times! It is the finest newspaper in the world. Seriously, nothing can come close to it.

Perhaps a good exercise for you would be to find an article that you find to be really interesting and underline everything that you are not sure about, whether it be a name, an event, or whatever. Then take that article and independently research everything you don't understand until you feel you have a firm grasp on the content. Start doing that daily and you will be amassing a large pool of interesting knowledge in know time, as well as sharpening your research skills. I use to do this, I still usually read the paper with a pen in my hand.

Also if you have gmail, set it up so you get all sorts of headlines on your home page, I have recently done that and it is awesome.

But yeah, I am 17 and undertook the same pilgrimage a few years ago (still am), it is well worth it and can be incredibly liberating. I can't stress learning history enough, that is crucial.

good luck!

emac kinda guy

irain said:
Hi, I'm 14, almost 15. I've been finding myself wanting to get into the know how of politics lately. I would love to be able to discuss politics with adults. The only problem is that I don't know how to being learning about whats going on in today's day and age.
Should I start watching CNN? Reading articles online? What?

Any suggestions?

By all means read/watch coverage of issues and use a variety of sources. As a rule you should "follow the money". A lot of political discourse is based on old ideas - left/right or socialist/conservative stereotypes. Capitalism won! What does that mean to your daily life?

Keep asking questions. What kind of a world do you think we should live in?

And keep having a curious mind. You'll have a great life.


macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
Los Angeles
Learn as much as you can from as many sources as you can. Reading a variety of newspapers, magazines, websites as well as watching a variety of TV news sources. The goal should be to gather enough information so that you can make up your own mind. Politics is very subjective and mostly opinion and perspective.

And you can't fully understand what's going on today (or speculate about what might happen tomorrow) w/o knowing what happened yesterday. I can't stress my agreement enough w/codycartoon in saying that history is very important to know as well.



macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2004
codycartoon said:
Read the New York Times! It is the finest newspaper in the world. Seriously, nothing can come close to it.


HA! HA! HA! HA!:D :p :rolleyes: :eek: The New York Times was one of the finest newspapers in the country. However, its political bias coupled with fraud has been its downfall as of late.

To the OP, watch Meet the Press or Face the Nation. They are on NBC and CBS respectively at the same time on Sundays. I would suggest Meet the Press. Look at the political sections of as many media outlets as you can. Harry S. Truman said that Americans should get their news from as many sources as possible. As for sources, check out CNN (for the liberal point of view), Fox News ( for the conservative point of view), and BBC ( for the international point of view). As for newspapers, I would recommend the New York Times or L.A. Times (for the liberal point of view), the New York Post (for the conservative point of view), and the Washinton Post or the Wall Street Journal (for the more centrist points). As for Magazines, I would suggest Newsweek or Time (for the liberal point of view) and the Weekly Standard (for the conservative point of view).
Good luck!


macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
Location Location Location
OnceUGoMac said:
HA! HA! HA! HA!:D :p :rolleyes: :eek: The New York Times was one of the finest newspapers in the country. However, its political bias coupled with fraud has been its downfall as of late.
I don't care what any of your favourite newspapers are. I think that anybody who has a paper they trust is probably a bit foolish anyway. There can't really be a newspaper that delivers more accurate news than the other because you will never know what news you're being fed is true and which isn't true unless you were there and knew all the tiny details while the event occurred. In fact, there probably isn't any news source that's dependable. It's all based on personal account anyways.

I say don't bother with what news sources people tell you are accurate and just listen to and read as much of the news as you can.

Thomas Veil

macrumors 68030
Feb 14, 2004
Just goes to show you how nobody seems to agree on anything anymore. ;) I'd strongly disagree with calling the Washington Times "centerist", for example.

Let me start by suggesting that you begin with ABC News and CNN's websites, in particular the Politics section. Then, for a completely outside perspective, check out the articles about the US on the CBC and BBC websites.

As far as the others:

The New York Times is good, but keep in mind that it's been a couple of years since it's been considered the "newspaper of record". Fake articles by reporters have recently damaged its credibility, and now the news that it sat on the Bush spying scandal for a year have hurt it even further. Overall it's still a very good paper, but it's not infallible...and it's not exactly liberal.

The Washington Times doesn't have the credibility problems of the NYT, and some consider it liberal (because it's not afraid to write about administration scandals), but I don't.

I would hardly call CNN liberal either. I think of them as centerist. They play it very safe, and since they were bought by TimeWarnerAOLetcetera, their news coverage has become less serious and more superficial.

The Wall Street Journal? Their editorial board seems to turn their eyes away from any conservative scandal.

Avoid Fox News or The Washington Times. Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who makes no bones about slanting his network toward the right. If you have to watch Fox, at least watch it (especially the talk shows) with a very skeptical eye.

The Washington Times has been pretty much exposed in recent books as heavily slanting the news. Its editor, Wes Pruden, has been known to edit quotes or set the context in such a way as to make events look very different from how they happened.

Newsweek and Time are not particularly liberal either. (These days, "liberal" seems to be defined as anyone who writes a few articles critical of the administration, which is not at all the same thing. Newsweek and Time wrote plenty of articles harmful to Clinton, too.) They are good source -- some of the best, actually -- for in-depth understanding of the issues.

Since you're just seeking to start out learning about politics, I'm going to tell you to avoid like the plague liberal or conservative sites like Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, et. al. I have my own views about which ones tell the truth and which ones lie, but you are not well-served by starting out on either the left or the right. Keep it objective until you find your own point of view.

You might want to talk to middle-age to older adults, of both conservative and liberal persuasions, who remember what politics was like before it became this nasty. Conservatism as we know it today is nothing like it was prior to 1980. Many say it has taken a huge turn for the worse. So yes, I'd agree, a sense of history is well in order. See in particular if you can get a good understanding of both sides of the '60s revolution, repercussions of which still reverberate today. It is (IMO) often mischaracterized as a period of crazy ideals and loose morals, and there was an idealism, involvement and intolerance for corruption that seem to be missing today.

"Follow the money" might be good advice if you're talking about scandals. Deep Throat (of Watergate fame) was the one who originally said it, and if you're looking for people's motivations, by all means follow the money.

Don't automatically believe that the joys of capitalism should guide your beliefs. Capitalism, like any other system, has its faults, some of them pretty big ones, and a great many people believe that it has way too much influence on how our politicians vote and are elected.

When you do get into reading liberal or conservative sites, don't abandon the objective "traditional" media for them. Left or right, you always need more objective sources to compare them to.

Do question heavily the motivations of the sites dedicated to the left and right. Ask yourself, assuming they're lying, what do they have to gain by it? Is the left really what the right characterizes it as...and vice versa?

Is that enough for you to start off with? :p


macrumors 6502a
All right son, listen.
Read the more analytical periodicals on the magazine racks; like "Atlantic Monthly", "Harpers Weekly". I believe CNN is biased as is its arch nemesis Foxnews so screw them.
I'd go with PBS for political discussion shows. Watch Fareed Zakaria's new show on PBS, he is very smart. Also, the PBS news magazine show "Now".
Let's not forget "The McLaughlin Group".
Watch Sunday morning political discussion shows like "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation".
Good luck and welcome to the discussion.


macrumors 68020
Feb 12, 2005
Thomas Veil has a lot of good advice in his post.

Another medium you might check out is AM talk radio. Air America, on the left, is still pretty small, but you can listen to and check out their commentators online if you don't have a local station. I often listen to Al Franken and Randi Rhodes:

By and large, conservatives have a stronghold on the talk radio market, so you're likely to hear conservative commentators on the radio dial wherever you are. Names such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity -- which, in my opinion, sound like they're employed by the White House and should be avoided -- but they're still fun to listen to for a good laugh. Michael Medved often has some very engaging discussions and I enjoy listening to him often.


macrumors 65816
Jun 3, 2002
Ok, time for my two cents, for left leaning news. for right leaning news. I look at these two, and use them to balance each other out.

I like, because it give international opinions about what America is doing (this site seems to be definately liberal in its views). is a fairly well balanced website, as the editor has trashed both conservitaves and liberals.

Don't forget National Public Radio. They have a slight liberal lean, but they almost always have an opposing viewpoint on everything political (I've listened to Condoleeza Rice and Rumsfeld giving opinion on stuff, on this station).

Good luck!


macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
It's all well and good to recommend news sources but a basic understanding of politics in the US would be best. Go to the library, find a book on US politics then start reading about international politics. You need a foundation to build upon. Just remember, bias is almost impossible to remove from the news especially concerning politics. One source is not enough to base your opinion on.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2005
Good online sources:

Washington Post (
And MSN Slate Magazine (

I would especially recommend BBC and Slate because you can get objective news and some really good opinions. You can also just skim the front page and see World headlines.

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