Believe it or not, but there was actually a time where sifting through trending moments on social media was enough to feel up-to-date with politics. Unfortunately, those days are long gone, and now the news feels more like a black hole that’s equally confusing to understand as it is scary.
And while scrolling through Twitter can only get you so far, keeping up with national news can feel pretty dreadful and anxiety-ridden. Regardless of your political party affiliation (or lack thereof), podcasts are actually a great alternative to forcing yourself to watch the nightly news after a long day.
Plus, they’re pretty ideal for the average person’s lifestyle, since no one actually has time to read headlines and articles from multiple news outlets to avoid any dreaded “fake news.”
Here are the top five best podcasts to tune into if you, like the rest of the country, are overwhelmed by politics.
1. “Can He Do That?”
Hosted by Martine Powers, a reporter for The Washington Post’s transportation and developmental team, “Can He Do That?” discusses lingering questions regarding Donald Trump’s rather historic presidency.
The 30-minute long episodes are released weekly, each examining concerns about specific actions or tweets by the president. Above anything, this podcast is great because it breaks down Trump’s actual jurisdiction – hence, “Can He Do That?”
The podcast frequently invites other Washington Post reporters to weigh in on particular topics while also offering suggestions (and comfort) to how this presidency can be reshaped. Not only does “Can He Do That?” teach its listeners about current events, but it also enlightens people on the balance of power that exists in the American government. Check it out here.
2. “Today, Explained”
If you’re on the hunt for a quick and easy podcast that explains the biggest headlines of the day, “Today, Explained” is absolutely perfect. Sean Rameswaram, a podcast extraordinaire and seasoned broadcaster, teamed up with Vox to create a simple yet useful show that cuts straight to the important stuff.
Episodes are posted Monday through Friday and range anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes long. Each installment walks you through the most significant headline of the day (though there have been days where more than one is posted) and clarifies exactly what you need to know.
Like “Can He Do That?” Rameswaram also often invites reporters from Vox on the show to ensure the listener is receiving the best information possible. “Today, Explained” discusses world news instead of just national news, though, admittedly so, the U.S. typically has the most confusing and shocking headlines of the day. Listen here.
3. “With Friends Like These”
In an admittedly polarized nation, it’s quite difficult to talk politics without letting your personal morals get in the way. Oddly enough, that’s the best thing about “With Friends Like These,” though.
The weekly show invites individuals with all different types of views to talk about what’s dividing us, minus the arguing. Episodes are usually over an hour long and hosted by Ana Marie Cox, a political columnist and founder of Wonkette.com.
Cox administers open and honest conversations that welcome various points of view, regardless of your career, religion, race or political beliefs. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, politics isn’t just about the facts anymore. Personal opinions matter, and “With Friends Like These” does a great job of dissecting just what those standpoints mean.
Although this podcast is less about current events and newsworthy headlines, it’s an interesting take on touchy topics in American politics with the common goal of uniting citizens. Cox’s singular effort to depolarize the nation is appreciated, so consider tuning in here.
4. “Pod Save America”
Perhaps one of the most famous political podcasts out there, “Pod Save America,” is hosted by former aides to President Obama who discuss the challenges posed by Trump’s current presidency.
Released twice a week, “Pod Save America” is sometimes hosted live, and guests have included Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. Tuesdays are hosted by Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor and John Lovett, while Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer take over on Thursdays.
The lengthy episodes typically last for over an hour, which makes each installment chock-full of freewheel deliberation pertaining to the president’s latest headline.
It should be mentioned that “Pod Save America” isn’t for beginners, though. The hosts don’t stray away from political lingo or complicated subjects, so it might be helpful to have an existing background of knowledge in politics. Despite the podcast’s well-versed hosts, its thorny vibe shouldn’t scare you away. Give it a listen here.
For the more tolerant political aficionados, Slate’s “Trumpcast” strictly talks Donald Trump and his rise to the presidency. Jacob Weisberg, Slate’s chairman, joins political correspondent Jamelle Bouie and writer Virginia Heffernan to discuss how Trump ended up in his current position.
The trio invites journalists, historians and, most interestingly, psychiatrists, to help explain Trump’s actions and what he’ll do next. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this podcast is its attempt to figure out how and why Trump is able to obtain presidential power in this specific point in time.
And although the podcast solely centers in on one of the most controversial figures in modern day politics, “Trumpcast” has a comedic aura to its segments that somehow feels bolstering. Episodes typically last about a half an hour with the exception of its live installments, which range upwards of an hour. “Trumpcast” is released every few days, so take a listen here.
Given the current state of the U.S., it’s admittedly difficult to stay positive. At the same time, it’s okay to acknowledge that American politics aren’t the easiest to understand. Beside the fact that political podcasts take away most of the potential terror involved with staying abreast with the current administration, there’s a sense of comfort in it, too.
It’s most likely because there’s relief in knowing you’re not alone; the majority of the country is unitedly confused and scared. But we’ll figure it out day by day, podcast by podcast.