Resources for progressive thought and activism in America
April 27, 2016 2:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm an older millennial who is finally getting more politically and socially engaged thanks to this election cycle, and I want to learn more about the resources (digital or otherwise) other MeFites use to be informed and stay engaged politically and socially in this country, from local to national. Nothing is too mundane or esoteric or partisan; I simply want to learn.

Some background: I've always been interested in social and political progressivism, but was unable to do much before for a variety of reasons, the primary one being that I'm a not-so-recent immigrant. Another consequence of that is that my social network is limited, so I don't have as many American friends to draw upon.

I discovered MetaFilter not long after I moved here, and the community has helped shape my beliefs (for the better) over the years, so I'm looking forward to reading your responses. Thanks in advance!
posted by kyp to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I really enjoy the Slate Political Gabfest Podcast.
posted by pintapicasso at 2:45 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I read electoral vote daily. It tracks polls and other things, but I find their commentary engaging. It's academic and slightly left of center, but on the whole balanced.

You can get the current score at
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:53 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you can take the, ah, irreverent house style, I like the political forum (Debate and Discussion). (Not the new 'election only' forum, which is a total garbage fire.) There are a lot of very well-informed people there who loooove talking about politics.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:53 PM on April 27, 2016

You could try attending a local Democratic Party gathering. My county party has a monthly Wednesday Happy Hour and Saturday Breakfast. They're pretty casual and not too fundraiser-y. It's one way to get the pulse on things going on locally, including meeting local officials and candidates. People there are often involved with issue-specific groups as well. It looks like you might be in the Seattle area, so would point you to a local meeting.
posted by eelgrassman at 2:57 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite] is perfect for understanding the numbers behind the election, both during the primaries and as we head into the general election. They also do other interesting types of features and reporting based on statistics, so if you like dorky wonky creative thinking, you will probably like them beyond their usefulness as a political source.
posted by Sara C. at 2:58 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Listening to your local NPR station could be an easy and light intro if you're not knee deep in it already.
posted by monologish at 3:16 PM on April 27, 2016

I really enjoy Jacobin magazine. They are technically ideologically Marxist but the content is not dogmatic at all and generally only slightly to the left of someone like Bernie Sanders. They also hold monthly reading groups in a number of cities, which might be a good entry-point for becoming more involved with progressive politics in your city.
posted by armadillo1224 at 3:21 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

I volunteer with a local organization that has a non-political agenda but tends to attract progressives; being involved with them has led to me becoming more "in the loop" with local politics - if you are already interested in volunteering, that might be something to think about.
posted by bunderful at 3:59 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Young Turks is kind of a... young, progressive Fox News style pundit network for millennial liberals? As in, suuuuper partisan, sometimes a bit obnoxious, but covering with the kind of enthusiasm and energy that more established news outlets lack. You have to subscribe for their full broadcasts but you can get some for free on YouTube and iTunes.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 4:25 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Listening to your local NPR station could be an easy and light intro if you're not knee deep in it already.

I would call NPR more centrist than progressive, or liberal at best (on certain issues). How about Democracy Now!?
posted by sockity sock at 4:42 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

I find most of my light progressive reading via Twitter. Some progressive folks/orgs I follow that frequently post interesting links and/or engage in interesting discussions:

@splccenter (Southern Poverty Law Center)
@jamilsmith(Jamil Smith)
@ggreenwald (Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept)
@pennyred (Laurie Penny)
@deray (deRay Mckesson)
@igorvolsky (Igor Volksy - def follow if campaign finance is an issue of interest)
@LadyPJustice (Lady Parts Justice)
@democracynow (Democracy Now!)
@Nettaaaaaaaa (Johnetta Elzie)
@innocence (The Innocence Project)
@mtaibbi (Matt Taibbi)
@tanehisicoates (Ta-Nehisi Coates, along with the TWiB podcast)
@theyoungturks (The Young Turks; you might also like their daily online show, though it often gets too cable-news-style "everyone yells!" for my tastes)

Definitely also follow your various government representatives and state/local party twitter accounts. You can also follow the top labor unions and the local chapters of those unions to find out about labor disputes in your area that you may be able to get involved with (e.g., CWA, SEIU, IBEW, UNITEHERE, Teamsters, etc.). Make sure you're not just following people who are demographically similar to you.

Mask Magazine is one that recently popped up on my radar and looks like it might be interesting though not exclusively politics related.

Books-wise, I recommend reading the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. If you want to be better versed in tax policy, I highly recommend Taxing Ourselves as a layperson's background primer.

On Reddit, check out /r/GrassrootsSelect.

On TV, there isn't much in the way of good nonfiction these days. John Oliver's show is probably the best out there right now in terms of actual discussion of complex issues. Samantha Bee's and Trevor Noah's shows are also promising, but obviously more quick-humor-oriented. Maddow is ok, but I have a hard time watching any of the cable news shows. I still watch Bill Maher every week, but the quality of a given show so dependent on who the guests are and whether Maher has decided to go on an episode-long rant about Muslim people for the millionth time.

For more centrist news or discussion, I like PBS/anything with Gwen Ifill and NPR (particularly Morning Edition and All Things Considered; Fresh Air is also awesome, it may not be politics/society-related depending on the guest, but Terry Gross is pretty much the best interviewer ever so it's worth a listen). Left, Right, and Center can be good for taking a peek at what the GOP is thinking/strategizing without having to actually visit any right wing media outlet.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:01 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Harper's Magazine! Good for deep background and unusual perspectives. And periodically some awesome weird shit.
posted by gusandrews at 6:35 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

And an old communist professor I used to know always said reading the Wall Street Journal to get a sense of how capital talks to and thinks about itself. I feel the same way when I see stuff from The Economist or Financial Times. (Though I stumble upon those articles more rarely.)
posted by gusandrews at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thom Hartmann is someone I would recommend looking into. He broadcasts daily on, (where you can also catch Democracy Now,) and also hosts a show on RT called The Big Picture. He's one of the few Progressive talk radio hosts, and used to have Bernie Sanders taking calls on his show for an hour every Friday before Bernie announced.
posted by daHIFI at 7:04 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo has grown from a personal political blog into a legitimate online news agency with a staff of reporters & everything.
posted by scalefree at 8:52 PM on April 27, 2016

While you're in Blogistan you should also check out the Daily Kos, a community blog known as the Great Orange Satan to some on the far Right. You'll find easy links to ways to get involved here.
posted by scalefree at 8:58 PM on April 27, 2016

Thank you everyone for the responses so far, definitely a lot of things I haven't considered before. Please keep them coming.
posted by kyp at 9:27 PM on April 27, 2016

Another recommendation for Its main purpose is to aggregate polls, which leads to pretty accurate predictions once we get closer to the general election. The two commentators provide insightful knowledge about delegate selection rules and so on, and do it with a sense of humor. It's updated just once a day, in the morning.

I also like Taegan Goddard's Political Wire. He aggregates article links to all things political from a wide range of sources. The comments are moderated--occasional trolls are dealt with quickly; discussions are civil and often very well-informed. Definitely a liberal crowd.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:17 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some of their writing can feel a little frantic to my taste, but I find Naked Capitalism worth following for their unique blend of wonky financial/political analysis. And each issue in the London Review of Books usually contains at least one deep, intriguing piece (James Meeks' pessays on the landscape of UKIP in local British politics and and Britain's bumbling role in the Afghanistan war are fantastic).
posted by black_lizard at 7:11 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

You probably have a local alt-weekly newspaper and those tend to be progressive, or at least have progressive elements in them. You wouldn't have to limit yourself to your own local one since aggregates a bunch of them. Other interesting places that may not be 100% progressive but will include the viewpoint:
posted by soelo at 8:02 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can also familiarize yourself with the public tools the U.S. government uses to manage its own workflow if you'd like to drink from the source rather than relying on others' interpretations, editorials, and punditry.

The Federal Register; this is the daily publication of the US federal government that issues proposed and final administrative regulations of federal agencies. This is where agencies announce public and private meetings, solicit comments on new policies, announce upcoming projects, you name it.

Sign up for federal agency news updates via email (FDA, EPA, etc.)

Do the same for your state agencies.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:23 AM on April 28, 2016


If it's your style you can also check out the local Marxist groups in your area. ISO, SAlt, etc. probably have a chapter close to you.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:56 AM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you all again. A pretty comprehensive list, thanks for helping me expand mine!
posted by kyp at 1:02 AM on May 1, 2016

« Older Looking for an article on hybrid third-party...   |   Help me find a spinner laptop bag/briefcase Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.