One of the things I'm constantly confronted with is how little I know. In fact, the more I study a subject or think about it, the more I realize there's so much more out there to learn and it's so much more complex than I had originally imagined. It can be daunting. I know a lot of people in science struggle with this issue. You go through life being a know-it-all, then you put in all this effort to get a Ph.D. In the end you feel stupider than ever because the process basically only taught you how very big the world is and how you will never completely understand anything - just the tiniest sliver of a fraction of knowledge, of which you get to claim "expertise."
But even if it feels quixotic, that doesn't mean I want to stop learning. This is one of the reasons why I love podcasts. About 50% of the podcasts I listen to are for pure entertainment (The Weekly Planet, Serial, Imaginary Worlds, Bitch Sesh, Death, Sex, & Money, This American Life, The New Yorker Fiction Podcast), but the remaining 50% I see as free learning resources (Fresh Air, Coffee Break Spanish, How I Built This, History Extra, Radio Lab, History Chicks, TED Radio Hour, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Call Your Girlfriend, On Being, Stuff Mom Never Told You, etc.).
This week I'm adding a new podcast to that list: Civics 101.
The Trump Administration's flagrant disregard and ignorance of the way the Federal government works is not just pathetic, it's fucking scary (and hypocritical as hell to criticize the Obama administration for executive overreach...).
In general, I'm interested in the news, government, and U.S. History. I also grew up in the D.C. area and both my parents have strong professional connections to the Federal government. My Dad actually is a Federal employee. My mom is a lawyer for a trade association and works on congressional legislation and enforcement. So just by osmosis alone and by asking my parents questions, I've learned a lot about how the government works. But it's a super complicated system! There are still so many things I don't understand.
To help fill in some knowledge gaps, I've started listening to the Civics 101 podcast. It's a great resource on all sorts of issues related to the U.S. government. In short 15 minute episodes, they explain things like executive orders, how the constitution can be amended, commenting periods, how supreme court decisions are overturned, etc. It's very helpful and I think EVERYONE in the U.S. could use a refresher on these topics. I know my government class in middle school was pretty inadequate for some of the constitutional questions that have been popping up on a daily basis since the inauguration.
If you're interested in the Supreme Court, I would also highly recommend More Perfect, which is a short podcast series done by the same people who produce Radio Lab. They choose interesting Supreme Court cases to explain and discuss, providing some much needed context and history for the way the Judicial branch works.
So if Trump is giving you anxiety, go ahead and try listening to Civics 101 and More Perfect. It's easier to fight against an autocracy (or an administration that would like to be one) if you understand what protections and subsequent revisions were put in place in the Constitution to defend against exactly this type of situation.
Consider this step 5 of my action plan to resist Trump and his cronies (or should I say Bannon and his crony Trump?) Get educated and know your rights.