Chances are, your go-to New Year's resolution has something to do with saving money, eating healthy, or getting in shape. Sure, these things are important — but 2016 is shaping up to be a big year for politics and the start of the new year is the perfect time to catch up on current events. While you hit the treadmill to reach your fitness goals or stay late at work to pad your bank account, tune into a political podcast in 2016 so that you can be an informed voter when election day rolls around.
First and foremost, you should plan to vote in 2016. Voter turnout is always notoriously low among 20-somethings. In 2014, voter turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds was roughly 15 percent lower than the next closest age group. With all the drama of the current crop of candidates, though, one can only hope that it will at least inspire more people to head to the polls.
If you're planning to vote in 2016, being informed is an absolute must. Thanks to the attention-grabbing Donald Trump and big names like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, it's perhaps easier than normal to pay attention this time around. However, with so many candidates on the primary ballots, it may be hard to remember who said what at each step of the race. That's where these podcasts come in.
NPR Politics Podcast
If you think NPR is just for your grandparents, think again. The NPR Politics Podcast is more than just a weekly roundup of the nation's political headlines; it's a commentary on those headlines delivered by a team of NPR's political reporters. They explain the story, giving background for those who aren't familiar, and then share their opinions and analysis. These weekly roundup episodes are roughly 30 minutes long and usually come out each Friday.
If you're tired of the divisive, partisan conversations that make politics completely unappealing, you're not alone. The ladies behind Pantsuit Politics, one left-leaning and one right-leaning, tell it like it is — and not in the offensive way that The Donald does. Despite differing political beliefs, they find common ground, and they promise not to shout or throw insults back and forth. Perhaps you can sit out the argumentative debate nights and just catch up with this weekly podcast. New episodes usually come out on Wednesdays and last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
Slate's Political Gabfest
Slate's Political Gabfest is a product of three of the politically inclined minds behind the popular news website, Slate. Each episode features a candid conversation about the most timely political stories, including debates, campaign news, and more. Gabfest has been voted "Favorite Political Podcast" by iTunes listeners and recommended by Stephen Colbert. New episodes come out on Fridays and tend to last about an hour, and the episode titles will vaguely remind you of Friends episodes.
Common Sense With Dan Carlin
A former radio host and all-around political junkie, Dan Carlin admits that his podcast isn't for everyone. Common Sense is for the avid politico looking for a new take on current events. Carlin isn't necessarily interested in laying the background out for the political newbie, but rather delivering an opinionated, thought-provoking perspective that could make you mad at him. New episodes come out sporadically, usually once or twice a month, and typically last around an hour.
NBC's Meet The Press
An audio-only version of NBC's Sunday morning political talk show, the Meet the Press podcast features interviews with relevant government officials and candidates, as well as analysis from strategists and journalists. The show is hosted by Chuck Todd, NBC's resident expert on all things political. Todd asks candidates and officials the tough questions, letting listeners hear comments straight from the candidate or official, rather than as a reported story. You're probably not in the mood for political analysis during Sunday brunch (but if you are, then more power to you!), so use this podcast as an easy way to catch up during long weekday commutes. Episodes come out on Sundays shortly after they air on television and last about 45 minutes.
Podcasts aren't just for Serial (although if you haven't listened to Serial, then add that to this list while you're at it). Whether you are paying attention to politics for the first time or finding a new way to squeeze news updates into your busy schedule, these podcasts should be on your list of New Year's resolutions.