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How to Think Critically About Political Narratives

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In the age of social media, getting elected is no longer about what you do but what you say, how you say it and what will go viral. Though creating a narrative has always been important in politics, it is now so crucial to a campaign that without a decent story, there is almost no point in joining the race.

So from the voters perspective, how can you cut through the storytelling to get to the real meat of the matter? In other words, what is the main goal to watch out for? Your opinion is more important than you might think so forming it well is vital.

See What is on Their Website

The first place to look when you are trying to figure out a candidate is their website and this is true whether they are running for president or a local election. Just as all businesses have websites now, all politicians are inclined to build a site for themselves to make their positions clear.

Often these sites have very generic names like vote for reagan but should contain a list of their policy ideas as well as a bit of background about themselves. The key to reading through these websites is to keep an open mind but remember to think critically too. Don’t forget that this is persuasive writing and the narrative isn’t just about informing you but encouraging you to vote too.

Look at Voting History

The next thing to consider is their voting history. Lots of politicians like to change what they say according to the current climate (Donald Trump is quite possibly the most exaggerated version of this there has ever been). However, their voting history is usually available giving you the chance to see whether they do as they say.

Again, you do need to remember to take this information with a pinch of salt. Many politicians change their minds and political climates change rapidly so it may be that a particularly conservative politician is now much more liberal than they were 20 years ago.

Read More

The more you can read about politicians, the more their narrative will either be confirmed or muddied. As they are not in control of all the narrative about them, the media can be a useful tool for figuring out what is posturing and what is genuine. The more you read and the more opinions form political writers you get, the more confused but informed you will be.

The only problem with this is that there is so much more fake news about that figuring out what is true and what is lies is much more difficult. Try to stick to reputable sources and well-known commentators as they are generally held to much higher standards than your average blogger in a basement.

In the vast majority of cases, political narratives are about making dull and often intangible ideas interesting to the masses by directly relating it to your life. However, it is important that you can read into what is being said and think critically about what you are being asked to believe.