Best of What Am Politics?

What Am Politics? released its final episode this week. The show, which is part of the HeadStuff Podcast Network and hosted by Richie Nolan and Steve Byrne, breaks down different political topics and tries to answer the question “what am politics?”  With 140 episodes, there is plenty to explore. We take a look at some of their highlights. 

Ep. 136 – What Am Development Aid? (with Caoimhe de Barra, CEO of Trócaire)

The two kick off this episode on Development Aid with the very important Colin-Farrell-Sticky-Toffee-Pudding-Mammy-Nolan story. But that’s beside the point. Steve explains “what am Development Aid”, before chatting to Caoimhe de Barra, the CEO of the Development Aid organisation; Trócaire. If you have ever wondered what use your Trócaire box money has (beyond creating a recognisable Irish classroom-staple), then this episode gives a great insight into what Trócaire do to help developing countries, the struggles they face and various projects Trócaire is involved in. 

They look at how Trócaire approaches humanitarian emergencies, while sparing enough funding for development and how they work with various non-governmental organisations, missionaries and the government.

Ep. 129 – What Am Political Jargon?

What am political jargon? Good question. Does anyone know for sure? In this episode, Steve and Richie outline a comprehensive catalogue of convoluted colloquialisms. They breakdown various political phrases and words that most scratch their head at. 

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What is a ‘spin doctor’? (aside from an American rock band). Who can we call a ‘lame duck’ with some degree of political accuracy? Is ‘bully pulpit’ Theodore Roosevelt’s final form, or just a phrase which describes a politician’s opportunity to speak out about an issue? 

Richie and Steve teach us a variety of new words, while shedding light on phrases we may have heard in passing, or while watching The West Wing for the second or third time.

Ep. 114 – What Am Mental Health? (with Bressie)

Richie and Steve tackle the topic of mental health alongside a very special guest, Nial Breslin, aka Bressie. This episodes strikes a slightly different tone to the other instalments in the series. It is the first of a two part series discussing mental health. (You can listen to part two here.)

They chat to Bressie about how mindfulness changed his life and pushed him to figure out how to communicate mindfulness and mental wellbeing in a way that people would listen. He explains how naming his brain “Jeffrey” helped him overcome his issues, along with therapy and support. Modern life and politics contribute to anxiety and mental health. It can be overwhelming and Bressie and the lads share some eye-opening insights related to this.

What am Mental Health? is a great episode to tune into if you are wondering where you can get support and how to make a change in your life for the better. 

Ep. 38 – What Am Watergate? 

You might have heard of the Watergate Scandal as a big event in American politics from the 1970s, but what exactly happened? Recorded while Donald Trump was still American president, Steve and Richie tackle the topic of political corruption while looking back to the Watergate scandal and how it changed American politics. (For more on Trump, Steve and Richie chat about his politics in their very first episode back in 2017.)

Steve explains Richard Nixon’s rise to the American presidency and how he sanctioned members of the republican party to engage in dirty political activity, including the break-in at the Watergate complex and the cover-up afterwards which contributed to Nixon’s downfall. 

It is a winding tale surrounded by underhand politics, and Steve teaches Richie about “the original bad boy of American politics” as well as suggesting some additional materials and related films and books for listeners to dive into!

Ep. 48 – What Am Pride?

Airing on the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland, Steve and Richie sit down with the Curator of the Irish Queer Archive (IQA), Tonie Walsh during Pride Week 2018. They discuss the legislation which made it illegal to be gay in Ireland and how homosexuality was eventually decriminalised in 1993.

From the origins of Pride in Europe and America, to the modern celebrations and festivals, Tonie teaches Steve and Richie about Pride’s history, Pride Week, and how new legislation such as the Marriage Equality Act and Trans legislation has shown how far Ireland has come in the time years since.

To learn more about Pride and the work that is still needed to continue Ireland’s inclusivity, this is definitely an episode to listen to.

Ep. 140 – What Am Politics? (The Finale)

Of course, don’t forget to check out the final episode of What Am Politics?, wrapping up the series after 140 episodes and 5 years of uncovering everything about politics.

Including gift exchanging, reminiscing over the origins of What Am Politics?, theme music and their favourite episodes of the podcast, Steve and Richie wrap things up by discussing some final topics which they didn’t get to cover over the previous 139 episodes. There is nothing more to cover – that’s it, they’ve done it!


If What Am Politics? sounds like your kind of show, you can listen to all these episodes and more, as well as a variety of other amazing podcasts on the HeadStuff Podcast Network.

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