Talking politics with your family at Thanksgiving is not fun. The chances that either participant in the conversation has a real revelation about the issue at hand is simply astronomical. The only thing worse than arguing with your uncle about Trump is being forced to listen to his version of the argument. It is a lose-lose situation.
According to a 2017 poll conducted by NPR, 86 percent of people have a negative view of talking about politics at Thanksgiving. According to that same poll, 58 percent of people say they “dread” the prospect of political talk invading their holiday festivities. It seems that the only thing all of America can truly band around is that we would like to talk about practically anything else besides politics when the holiday comes around.
The student body at New College did not differ wildly from the American public at large. When asked via a Forum post what they had to say about political discussion at Thanksgiving, a clear line ran across the responses.
Third-year William Bottorff suggested in an email that when one was faced with talking politics, it would be preferable to “shove your head up a turkey and start dancing.”
First-year Sarah Nash found the idea of a family using loud kazoo bombardment as an effective punishment for those who attempt to bring up politics at the dinner table.
“Who cares if tita Bernadette shared another article about trans people in bathrooms?” first-year Maya Wernstrom said. “She’s old as shit and you’re not changing her mind. That’s my strategy: avoiding old people.”
This desire to avoid the subject altogether is understandable, especially when one considers that all that arguing can often end up being effectively pointless.
“Thanksgiving is not the place where you are going to change anyone’s opinion,” Dr. Peter Coleman, director of the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict at Columbia University, told The New York Times.
With the need to avoid this kind of conversation established, what can be done to avoid or, if necessary, endure it?
The first step would be to not bring up anything that could stir controversy, even if it feels like ‘common sense.’ What seems absolutely deplorable to one individual might seem perfectly reasonable to whoever’s across the table. If supper-time harmony is the goal, one should keep the focus of the conversation on non-partisan matters.
Arguments are like quicksand: struggling is only going to make it worse. Trying to ‘win’ arguments just leads to longer and louder arguments, which tends to be the last thing anyone around the table wants, whether or not they are participating in it.
After an argument, people often attempt to find solace by talking to people who share more ideological common ground. Whether they want to talk to a relative closer to them on the political spectrum or they need to call a friend after dinner is over, seeking out support can help them to rejuvenate for the rest of the day.
The perils of holiday dinners vary little no matter what occasion they are supposed to celebrate. An argument over Trump’s latest tweet is as exhausting on Christmas as it is on the Fourth of July. Even if Thanksgiving turned out to be more aggressive than one may have initially hoped, there are certainly some ways to reduce the tension and avoid another wine-fueled debacle as the rest of the holiday season unfolds.
Information for this article was gathered from wsj.com, nytimes.com and nbc.com.