5 bizarre features of American politics that shock people when they first hear about them.

...including one reason people are staying involved despite it all.

Tuning in to American politics for the first time in 2017 is a lot like drinking from a firehose while fighting a grizzly bear and trying to summarize the plot of "Inception" from memory.  

Photos by: Win McNamee/Getty Images (Paul Ryan), Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (Neil Gorsuch, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren), Zach Gibson/Getty Images (James Comey), Jim Lo Scalzo - Pool/Getty Images (Donald Trump), iStock (Supreme Court).

As breaking news and scandals continue to erupt at an Usain Bolt-ish pace, many Americans are experiencing the early days of the Trump administration as a crash course in what makes our government kind-of-but-honestly-not-exactly work, with emphasis on the "crash."

Keep Reading Show less
More

After four years as a member of Missouri's House of Representatives and another four as its secretary of state, Jason Kander took a chance and ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

While the fresh-faced 35-year-old would ultimately come up short in his bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt in the 2016 election, the race was a whole lot closer than many expected. A Democrat in a traditionally red state, Kander came within just 3 points of Blunt. For comparison, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lost the state by 19 points.

Though unsuccessful, the campaign helped Kander reach a whole new audience when one of his ads — in which he, a former Army captain and Afghanistan veteran, assembled a rifle while blindfolded — went viral. In defeat, Kander's star only continued to rise.

Keep Reading Show less
More

On Feb. 7, 2017, Elizabeth Warren began reading a letter by Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor.

The senator from Massachusetts read the letter, written three decades ago, in which the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. expressed her opposition to the nomination of Jeff Sessions — now a senator from Alabama — for a federal judgeship.

Sessions, whose work to suppress black voters prevented him from becoming a federal judge in 1986, is expected to be confirmed as the next attorney general of the United States by the Republican-controlled Senate on Feb. 8.

Keep Reading Show less
More