It's been interesting for the Democratic primary candidates this week. Former Vice President Joe Biden gave some truly wild answers at the CNN town hall on LGBTQ+ issues. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke criticized South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Twitter. And the impeachment inquiry against President Trump continued to overshadow all efforts by second- and third-tier candidates to get the attention of the national media.

Plus, to top it all off, the next Democratic debate is, as I’m writing this, 3 hours away. This round will feature all the usual suspects (except Kevin Spacey, for obvious reasons), plus philanthropist newcomer Tom Steyer and not-so-newcomer Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

But we’re not going to talk about any of that. Sure, Joe Biden’s town hall answers were incredibly strange and the debate is definitely the biggest 2020 story of the week and will have, by the time you read this, already happened. But by the time I write this column, it has yet to happen for me. So, I can’t write about the debate and I can’t write about Joe Biden saying “gay bathouses” because only watching the debate can do it justice.  

So, this week is going to be a bit odd. (See, titles have meaning.) I’m going to switch things up and make two little recommendations. One to offer you a way to stay informed and one to help you make a decision.

Recommendation One: The NPR Politics Podcast

Odds are, if you’re reading this article, you’re either my mother (hi Anne) or you like learning about political news however possible. Or maybe you’re both. If you’re the latter, you’re probably also already a big podcast person. But I’m here to give you one more to listen to. Everyday, the team at NPR Politics produces a podcast discussing the political news of the day, in a fun and deeply interesting combination of light, casual conversation and in-depth political analysis. You know, normal podcast things. They also have two ongoing series within the podcast. First, every Friday, they create a weekly roundup discussing a few of the biggest stories from the week. Then, at the end of each week, each member gives one thing from the past week, politics or otherwise, that they can’t let go off. Second, in partnership with Iowa Public Radio and New Hampshire Public Radio, they’re doing on-the-road interviews with each presidential candidate. All in all, it’s a great podcast that’s not too long  (usually about a half hour) that’s entertaining and interesting. (Also, in the same NPR Politics grain, you should follow Danielle Kurtzleben on Twitter. Easily one of Twitter’s funniest journalists.)

Recommendation 2: ISideWith...

The Iowa caucus is in February, which is just four months away. That means soon, if it hasn’t happened already, people are going to start asking which candidates you prefer. Sure, you could just go with a nice crowd pleaser (at least for this campus) and say Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg. But even then, you’re going to start asking yourself who you really support. In a field this large, that can be a hard question to answer on your own, unless you’ve studied every speech and every policy proposal put out by every candidate. (If you have, I don’t really know why you’re reading this column. You definitely already know more than I can ever tell you.) So that’s where this website comes in. It states policies, asks you how strongly you agree or disagree with them, and then asks you to rank how much you care about that policy. The policies are broken up into categories such as national security, healthcare and trade. The standard quiz only has a few policies per category, but you have the option to answer more, which makes it longer, but also more accurate. At the end, the site lists each candidate in order of what percent you agree with their positions. It’s unbelievably helpful, and makes you think about policies you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. So next time someone asks you who you support, don’t panic. Just make them wait while you take 15-30 minutes to take an internet quiz.

Those are all my recommendations. (Except for insisting one more time that you watch the highlights of Joe Biden at the CNN town hall. It doesn’t disappoint. He accidentally comes out to Anderson Cooper?) I’ll see you all back here next week for an overview on the debate.