'The Government Gurus' Podcast Educates Students In A World Of Fake News

'The Government Gurus' Podcast Is A Refreshing Truth In A World Of Fake News

It has long been time for a political media outlet to surface that serves Americans in ways the mainstream media has failed them, and who better to fill that void than a teacher of government himself.

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In today's political climate and with our oversaturation of information and media outlets, bias is inescapable. The mainstream rhetoric regarding our news media denotes it to be "fake," with some going so far as to call it the "enemy of the people." Although it seems extreme, this trend is not without reason. There have been several instances, particularly in recent years, of news outlets breaking stories too early only for them to later have to retract these stories and announce that the information reported was inaccurate because it was unverified before publication or broadcast. As younger and older generations alike find themselves using the media as their primary source of political information and as their basis of understanding of our government and how it operates, the clear bias, opinion, and often unreliable news Americans consume is a dangerous movement. It threatens the integrity of our democracy and the rectitude of American voters.

While this tendency has become more widely known, it still feels impossible to find broadcasts, newspapers, websites, or podcasts where American voters can simply learn without the burden of our current politics. For Americans who wish to be truly informed and to recognize how our institutions work, the rights citizens are given, and the limitations and extensions of our law so that they may form their own opinion and present or argue that opinion clearly with a foundation of knowledge rather than ignorance, mainstream media has failed them.

For an outlet to serve that purpose, however, it would be necessary for it to not only be unbiased in its presentation of information, but for it to support the topics it discusses by teaching the fundamentals of our government and our Constitution so that audiences can entirely understand and individually analyze what they are given, forming their own political identity. Who better to create such an outlet than a government teacher.

"The Government Gurus" Podcast was founded and is run by advanced placement and dual enrollment (meaning he teaches college-credit classes in the high school) government teacher Alex Bennett, from Woodgrove High School in Purcellville, Virginia. A Central Michigan graduate with a double major in Social Studies and History, Alex Bennett has two master's degrees in science and Political Science and wanted to fill the void of an audience he felt was underserved and contribute more as a teacher. (Disclosure: I was a student of his in AP government during my senior year of high school.)

Bennett began his podcast with hopes of reaching high school students who take advanced placement government classes as well as their teachers, but his podcast has the potential to expand far beyond that.

After seeing other "teachers on social media platforms working with their students in so many wonderful ways," Bennett saw the ways in which classes such as AP Government were changing, and he could adjust to add something of his own to the new curriculum. Even though "Government Gurus" is still relatively in its early days, the lineup of guests on the show so far is nothing short of impressive. Constitutional scholar, Harvard Law graduate, journalist, award-winning author, and two-time recipient of the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel award Linda Monk appeared on the podcast in September of 2018 to discuss the "history and purpose of the Bill of Rights and its importance it has in achieving full protections of civil liberties and civil rights for all."

Other notable past guests include Executive Director of the Constitutional Source Project Julie Silverbrook, acclaimed historian Tom Richey, and member of the Council of Islamic and American Relations Carolyn Homer. Keeping with the original intention of "Government Gurus" as a way to augment the evolving U.S. Government classroom curriculum, Jenifer Hitchcock, a Political Science teacher from Fairfax, Virginia, appeared on the show in April of 2018 to discuss Federalist Paper No. 78 with Bennett. Additionally, listeners can look forward to future episodes with Mary Beth Tinker, the defendant in the momentous Tinker v. Des Moines case and constitutional professor and author Garrett Epps.

Particularly considering the prevalence of media that surrounds politics today that caters to relatively partisan opinions, the content of "Government Gurus" is what makes it exceptional and pertinent today. Avoiding discussion of political controversies and judgment, the dialogue is based on the AP curriculum used in the classroom and endorsed by the National Constitution Center with the premise of presenting totally unbiased information, meant to inform on several viewpoints rather than persuade to adhere to one. Bennett says of his style, "…my teaching isn't designed to change the minds of people, it's to get them to understand the other side. My listeners do not need another political pundit articulating bias opinions, what they need, I feel, is a solid foundation of government and its function."

In a world of fake news, this adage is refreshing. As popular discontent with mainstream media grows amongst voters and Americans in generals, podcasts and news media like "Government Gurus" will continue to see surges in listeners and viewership. Bennett fills a critical void by straying from what media believes listeners want, to producing content they can actually value and trust. Listeners of the "Government Gurus" can expect quality content without the struggle of having to determine what can be taken as fact over speculation.

Further, listeners can expect the podcast to grow and expand into current events but while maintaining the consistency of being a source of information that excludes bias. As Bennett continues to develop "The Government Gurus," he hopes to give congressmen and women the opportunity to appear on the show and reach out directly to government students and other avid learners across the country and begin to promote podcasting in national conventions as well.

Listeners can support "The Government Gurus" through PayPal using the email alexwbennett@gmail.com, listening, and rating the podcast on your listening app. You can access the show through Apple Podcasts, Google Playstore, and Spotify, and follow @thegovgurus on Twitter and Facebook.

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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