Political Savviness: An Enigmatic Conundrum

Disclaimer: this article is in no way a criticism of the student body that is savvy enough to understand and apply contemporary political vernacular. It is, if anything, an expression of my personal admiration of such political finesse.


Have you ever watched the news and had no idea what the reporter was talking about? I’m not talking about the 6 o’clock news that, as we are consistently reminded by moguls Kolhatkar and Friendlyjordies, report on anything but current affairs. I mean broadcasts like Q&A, SBS Insight, the ABC 7pm Report - the news that aims to deconstruct and expose the current political climate. If you’ve never watched these reports - or if you have and, like me, felt more lost than when you tried to navigate UTS Online for the first time - you’re probably my target audience: welcome.


I was reminded of my incapacity for the art of politic the other day when reading an article in Honi Soit (unintentional plug). The article is somewhat ‘political’, certainly ‘alternative’, and was excellently written by a student that is more than two years younger than me. It was then that I realised just how politically unsavvy I am.


It’s a shame, really - considering I’m in my third and final year of a degree specialising in ‘Social and Political Sciences’, you’d think I’d be able to rattle off the key principles of Marx’ manifesto. Explain neoliberalism (how I hate neoliberalism). Or perhaps be able to tell you what a double dissolution is. But prior to watching a recent episode of The Weekly with Charlie Pickering (good watch), I actually had no idea. Kind of sounds like a dessert if you say it fast enough, though. Definitely Turnbull’s ideal dessert. *drops mic*


My humble ignorance was a matter of shame for many years (semesters) and so I have devised a way in which to conceal (barely) my lack of knowledge. It is my gift, bequeathed unto you, newcomers; perhaps not all of you, but certainly those of who are unsure of how to navigate the axiomatically political environment of tertiary education. And so I present -


“The Top 10 Ways and Words to Make You Sound More Politically Savvy” (working title)


1. Read.


2. Read anything (and everything) by George Orwell.


3. Carry the book you’re reading around with you. It’ll make you look like you read all the time, when often the truth of the matter is that you carry that book twice as much as you read it.


4. Tack on the phrase “socio-economic” to any element of any discussion. Why is there a pay gap? Inherent socio-economic issues. Class divide? Socio-economic disparity (tautology adds to your argument, don’t let people tell you otherwise). What does this reading discuss? Socio-economic concerns. (I’ve actually used this so many times).


5. Open the Sydney Morning Herald online and read the headlines before you go into uni for the day. Your ice breakers will be the most informed of the day.


6. Refer to the Sydney Morning Herald as ‘SMH’. When someone asks why you’re ‘shaking your head’, you will then literally respond with a ‘smh’. A delightful irony.


7. Continuing with the theme of newspapers, try and carry around a crossword from the paper sometimes, making sure it’s visible to the public. Answer at least one or two of the clues, it’ll make you look like you perpetually seek out conundrums. You, in turn, will become a perpetual conundrum.


8. Critically analyse films when watching them in a social setting. Make comments about the way in which they reflect contemporary socio-political concerns (hello, variation on number 4). I recommend The Hunger Games as a clear starting point to get the creative juices flowing.


9. Read ‘Junkee’ (intentional plug) or something of the like – a current affair, a hint of the left, and just enough literary charisma to make it interesting.


10. Always use the word ‘bourgeois’ - just use it. Use it in public, use it in private, use it in the shower. Always bourgeois, bourgeois always. (Chiasmus also takes you places)


By the end (nay, the middle) of this list, I realised that I was just typing things that I naturally do. So if it proves fallible, I can’t say I’m surprised. However, if you have lost all hope, and feel like Joey did in the Friends episode where he bought an encyclopaedic volume dedicated to the letter ‘V’ - give it a go. Heed my words. Peruse this list. And join me on the journey to greater success. (Unfortunately, Khaled just missed the cut but he definitely deserved a final plug).

by Cassey Coleman