How to be politically savvy without knowing about politics

It’s heady times for politics right now. Our country is fiercely divided, and unrest is bubbling constantly to the surface. In Russia, artists are being jailed for engaging in political activism. In the USA, the race toward the presidential election is reaching cartoonish proportions. But, have you ever felt like you… well… like you really just don’t understand any of it? Like everyone else seems to be talking real educated-like, and you just can’t seem to keep up? Well, if that’s the case, then I have a few tips for you.

Here’s the scenario: You’re out for lunch, say, with some business associates, or at a party where people refer to the drinks as highballs, having a great time, when without warning the conversation veers suddenly political. And wouldn’t you know it, you don’t know a thing about politics! Local, national, international – nothing! Everyone is talking about “bills” being “passed” and “candidates” being “elected” and all this stuff that just sounds like Greek to you (side note: Greeks actually invented politics). Well, fear no more because here are a few easy points that will have you sounding like a regular pundit in no time (a pundit is a fancy word for someone who talks repeatedly about politics, often on a radio show or blog. Usually a blog.)!

First of all, the most important thing to remember is that whenever you’re not saying anything, you come off as ignorant. So, talk at great length regardless of how familiar you are with the particular political topic. Whoa, whoa, whoa! How are you supposed to do this if you don’t know politics? EASY. Just fill your vocabulary with words like recession (an economic—having to do with money—downturn), partisan (someone who is aroused by a party fundraiser), bipartisan (someone who is aroused by all the party fundraisers), scrotum (I’m pretty sure that’s a thing), doublespeak (two politicians saying the same thing at the same time for more impact), or caucus (a secret meeting, usually in the steppes of central Asia, I guess). You see, nobody really knows what these terms mean, so peppering your conversation with them will make you seem knowledgeable.

Now, we all know that listening is just as big a part of conversation as speaking, so when a fellow conversationalist is taking his or her turn to speak, make sure to really look like you’re listening intently and you understand what he or she is saying. Maintain aggressive eye contact. Remember, it’s far more important that you appear to be listening and understanding than it is to actually listen and understand, because the person talking probably doesn’t know what they are talking about either. Try to think of a really hard math problem so that you look like you’re concentrating real hard, and when they’re finished respond enthusiastically like you just remembered where you left your keys.

There are a few constants that you can always rely on. For instance you can never fail by mentioning “the war”, because there is always a war going on someplace and most people like to pretend they care about it. You can always say that “things need to change” and just generally badmouth current government because people are never satisfied and everyone always hates the government (probably because they don’t understand politics). Avoid using swears when badmouthing government because people who are interested in politics are smart and smart people are offended by swears. The one exception to this rule is the term “gerrymandering fuck-gape”. Political know-it-alls love this term, and you’d do well to use it as frequently as you possibly can.

Another thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that a lot of these terms we have for describing political “parties” or “viewpoints” are interchangeable. “Republican” means the same thing as “Conservative”. “Liberal” just means “Fascist”. “Bloc Quebecois” and “Green Party”? Same thing! So mix it up a bit. Instead of always saying “NDP” sometimes say “Zionist” instead. It’s all good.

You can get a good idea of who the major players are by watching popular late night television shows. And it’s always a good idea to compare them to past politicians because everyone loves past politicians. If a lot of people are talking negatively about a certain politician say: “Yeah, he sure ain’t no Kennedy!” Everyone loves that guy because he pulled Excalibur from the Stone and he got shot. Or say: “He’s no Mulroney!” Everyone loves him because while he was president of Canada he invented money and his son successfully brought television to the country. And television is something everyone loves. Other beloved politicians from days of yore that everyone loves: Lincoln, for inventing the town car; Caesar for being able to talk to dogs and inventing the least healthy salad around; and Ceausescu, for his tireless efforts to keep his people safe from bears.

If someone disagrees with you or says you don’t know what you’re talking about, be insistent. Talk louder and throw in more political lingo. Anyone who really cares about politics is always trying to force their views on others. Always talk about how much you vote, even if you don’t, because people know how into politics you are by how much you vote. Tell them you vote in EVERY election. Tell them that you vote three or four times usually. You care that much.

So, basically all of this should bring you up to an expert level, equivalent to, say, a senator or a chamberlain. If you follow these simple guidelines you’ll never have to be left out of a political conversation again. And good thing, too, because we live in a very exciting time of recessions and robocalls and abolitionism!

*Photo from Family Guy

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