Politics is a broad, complicated subject. It involves issues like diplomacy, war, government finance, and such. It also is a significant part of your life, since it’s what dictates how you’re allowed to live, so it’s a good idea to understand it.
- Learn about all the types of government and how they work. It’s important to learn about the governments of other countries, as well as your own, in order to understand how and why your country interacts with others. Learn the pros and cons of all the governments as well.
Learn specifically about how your country is run. This goes from national government all the way down to city government. Voting and lawmaking is also included in this.
Find out what rights you are guaranteed and where their limits are. In America, for example, people are guaranteed free speech. However, free speech ends where another person’s rights begin. Threatening to kill someone, for example, is not covered under the freedom of speech. Learn what your rights are and how you can exercise them.
Watch and read political news to find out about current events. There will no doubt be issues in the paper and media that are of political nature. This could include elections, social issues, the economy, other countries, or government-related problems.
Research current events in depth. Look at how the event came to be, what the effects of the event are, and what people’s opinions on the event are. Research all sides, not just one, and discuss it with your peers in order to gain better insight on it.
Look up words you don’t understand. Expanding your vocabulary is a good way to understand what politicians are talking about.
Ask someone that you trust about issues you don’t understand. If there’s something you just can’t find out by research, ask someone what the issue is about and what the background is.
Learn about all the different economies as well as the pros/cons of each. The economy is a hot issue in many countries, and effects your life. Politicians all have their own ideas and solutions about the economy and the struggles their countries face with it.
Look into politicians’ backgrounds and political records. There are usually websites that have a record of politicians and what they vote for. Google their names and see what kind of opinions they have and how they’re voting. This is especially useful for when you begin voting for representitives.
Write to your representatives or officials but be very sure to give you city, county, state and mailing zone/code or they will almost always treat your email or letter as spam or junk mail. This is because the government officials often get letters from people whom they do neither represent nor have authority over their issues. Junk mail (propaganda or advertising) is a waste of time and effort for them as with anyone…
Try to acquire a better understanding about how power works (not just political, but also economic). Understand that democracy isn’t perfect so there is much more to take into account you you really want to take politics seriously, i.e., if you really want to contribute to change the world. Read Marx, Rousseau, and so on.
- Look up all branches of government.
- Look up names of departments and their functionality.
- Regularly try to expand your vocabulary.
- When you see a name in political news, look them up to see who they are and what they’re representing.
- Remember that “politics” basically covers issues regarding government and their role in your life. This includes: social issues (abortion, gay marriage), the economy, diplomacy, elections, laws, rights, labour conditions, and things like that.
- Becoming educated in politics around the world, not just politics in your country, will help your understanding in politics in yours as well.
- Look up foreign currency (money) exchange rate quote information in case you must travel to other countries or need to use another countries money for some reason (for relatives in another country, etc.).
Government related information websites
- FirstGov.gov: The U.S. Government’s Official Web Portal (http://www.firstgov.gov/)
- Yahoo’s Directory ([http://dir.yahoo.com/Government])
- Be careful of media “angles” that aim to make you think the way they want you to. Many sources of news are biased towards a certain view (such as liberal or conservative), so it’s important to look for sources from ALL sides of an issue, not just one. When someone accuses another person for something, it’s also fair to let all sides explain themselves before drawing your own opinions.
- Always remain open minded when it comes to your political views.