Want to Understand Politics But Don’t Know Where to Start? This Podcast Has You Covered

left right out podcast

Let’s face it, politics is not easy to understand. If you’re the kind of person whose eyes glaze over when you start reading about the Senate, legislation, and Parliamentary Committees, then you’re not alone.

“Politics is confusing and, you know what, often it’s much better for politicians if we don’t totally understand what is going on,” journalist Justine Landis-Hanley says in the trailer to the new podcast she is co-hosting, Left Right Out.

Until the revolution comes, however, participating in the democratic system is the only option we have to further the change we want to see. But to do so means overcoming a few hurdles.

“It can just feel super embarrassing to admit you don’t know things, especially when politics is so dominated by people who don’t necessarily look like us,” explains fellow journalist and co-host Elfy Scott.

Almost on cue, the Prime Minister himself has recently confirmed these ideas, giving us a bit of an insight into how people like him end up leading our country.

Speaking on Sky News’ Pub Test programme, PM Scott Morrison said that most Australians are not interested in politics outside of the election cycle.

“In Australia, we don’t have politics like they have in many other countries. In between elections Australians basically just get on with their lives … and I actually like that about Australia,” he said.

While this approach may benefit Morrison and his cohort, it’s something that worries those who care about the health of our democracy. For a long time, policy wonks and academics have fretted over the disengagement of the population from politics. A 2019 Guardian poll found that just 15% of respondents follow politics closely, while 38% say they have some idea of what’s happening. 15% said that they have no interest at all. And that’s amongst people who read the Guardian.

A more representative IPSOS poll found that, while interest in politics has risen during the pandemic, over half of us don’t care about the outcomes of the political process or don’t expect there to be any. The results are even worse for younger people, with 58% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 unable to name a political achievement in 2020, and 67% unable to name a politician who has made a positive impact in 2020.

This might not necessarily indicate that we don’t care about politics – as the climate change, indigenous justice, and women’s rights rallies we’ve seen up and down the country over the past few years show that we clearly do – but that institutional politics doesn’t offer us much.

Scott and Landis-Hanley are attempting to address this issue with their recently launched Spotify-exclusive show. What started out as an Instagram page has now morphed into a weekly dialogue where they aim to answer listener questions about specific political topics.

Their first episode, which is out now, explores which party is best for women and gives an insightful and funny overview of what each party has done to champion women while reminding us of some of the awful stuff that is allowed to fly in Parliament.


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Getting clued up on politics is more important now than ever as, surprise surprise, there’s an election coming up in a few months’ time and you’ll be asked to vote on stuff you may not necessarily understand the full impacts of.

Landis-Hanley, who has covered news and politics for The Guardian and The New York Times, explained to The Latch that part of the reason it’s easy to get confused is because “politics is as much of a marketing exercise as it is an exercise in democracy”.

“You don’t go to an election and have people from different parties saying, ‘Hey, this is a really shit policy. You should vote for us!’,” she said.

“I think that it is helpful to politicians when people don’t have all of the information. It’s much more helpful if they can just absorb what politicians are telling them about what they’re doing without any kind of critical lens. I think that’s partly why this show exists”.

Scott, who you might recognise as the host of the Junkee Takeaway, adds that having a bit of an overview of what’s been going on, rather than trying to keep up with the daily grind, is helpful.

“There are instances of corruption and questionable behaviour from politicians that may or may not have slipped past people’s radars that could, on the surface, seem dry, but that’s just because these processes are so opaque,” she said.

“To have people explain them to them in detail and with clarity I think is really democratically important as well.”

Speaking to some of the biggest problems that we have in politics nowadays, the hosts say that while people often feel passionately about particular issues — whether that’s equality, the environment, or housing — we just don’t really trust the process.

“I think that people often feel like either their vote doesn’t count, or like they’re not smart enough to make up a vote,” Landis-Hanley said.

However, Scott adds, “Everybody has certain issues that they care about”.

“The nice part about a podcast like ours is that we can do a deep dive into every part of these policies. So, whether people care about the economy, whether they care about housing, climate policy, these explainers are useful in that way”.


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Over the past few years, one of the key trends in politics has been the impact of women, particularly young women outside of the political establishment who have forced the national or global focus onto issues that otherwise wouldn’t have been discussed. Both Landis-Handley and Scott agree that the powerful demonstrations we’ve seen from people like Grace Tame, Brittney Higgins, and Chanel Contos are vital in opening doors and access.

“Hopefully, what happens is that the momentum of these women and the way that they have sparked these conversations allows for other marginalized groups to enter the conversation in a bigger way,” Scott said.

“I want to see people of colour and people from vastly different cultural backgrounds entering Federal Parliament as well, because I think that, at the end of the day, it is just a problem of this old white man monopoly on politics that has led to these long term issues.”

Landis-Hanley follows this up by saying that “if any women feel like politics is not for them, it’s because the people who are in politics, and the people who dominate political conversations, often don’t look like them”.

“I think that this all comes down to men being gatekeepers to spaces that we have every right to raise our voices in and have a space in. This last year has had a really important effect on helping more people feel like they can see change through raising their voices.

“But also we have had decades of women raising their voices, and women who still raise their voices, who just don’t get listened to. That is a problem that needs to change.

“There is progress that I’m really hoping we continue to see because we’ve done a lot but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

The pair hope to use their show to bridge the gap between those who feel passionate and socially engaged but maybe just don’t fully understand the ins and outs of the political machine or the context of the issues at hand.

“I think that everybody has those questions,” Landis-Hanley said.

“Our job in the podcast is to give people that sort of basic knowledge to get their foot in the door,” Scott adds.

While politicians may not recognize or speak to the issues of young people, the team says that they ignore younger voters at their peril.

“I think that the political parties are, or if they’re not that they should be, very well aware of like the importance that young people present at election day,” Landis-Hanley said.

“They are the future voters, they are the current generation, they understand how seriously they’re going to be affected by the decisions that politicians are making today.

“I don’t think that they become important. I think that they are important right now. And I think if any politician doesn’t recognize that, they’re in trouble.”

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