A challenge to all Americans: break the tradition of holiday non-confrontation and debate politics with your family. Political progress starts around starch, tryptophan, Bing Crosby, and jellied cranberries.
Now is the time. Take a deep breath, unfold your fancy napkins stitched by grandma, and dive into the debate. One-by-one we can bridge the divide.
This country needs an intervention. It doesn’t matter if it makes your tribe a little uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter if voices get raised. At the end of the debate everyone will eat pie and everything will be OK.
Better government starts at home. It starts with family debating around the Thanksgiving table. It’s been proven in my own family that a grouchy republican uncle can, in fact, agree with his idealistic liberal niece (and vice versa). I’ve witnessed family political debates for decades, and it’s nothing to fear as long as people are honest with one another (and don’t quote Rush Limbaugh).
Tips For Conservatives Debating Politics With Family
Ditch the scary adjectives and bumper sticker slogans acquired from your radio and television programs. The point of debate isn’t to scare your family, it’s to talk with them and understand one another’s point of view.
Ditch the contempt-dripping pronunciation of words like “liberal” and “democrat”. The person debating with you is your blood, not your enemy. Politics is not war. Politics is policymaking and striving to make a better nation (for everyone).
Focus on explaining real-world policies you support, not just that you believe democrats are wrong… about everything… always… no matter what.
Remember that “You’re wrong!” is not a counter argument.
Help people understand your policy positions by giving context and examples. Don’t rely on blanket statements and assume that’s enough to make a valid point.
Remind yourself that insulting a thing is not debating about it.
Remember that you love Freedom and that Freedom applies to everyone, not just you.
Tips For Liberals Debating Politics With Family
Remember that the vast majority of people who voted for Donald Trump are not racists. They’re just hurting. (We’ll deal with implicit bias on MLK day.)
Don’t play Sarah Mclachlan CDs during dinner.
Don’t compare anything to Nazi Germany.
Make it personal, not theoretical (or theatrical). Talk about how specific policy impacts real people. People with names. Names like Bob and Frank and Lucy and Susan.
Humans are selfish (it’s a survival thing – can’t be avoided). Show how a Paul Ryan budget directly impacts their quality of life. Show how it will take something away they take for granted.
Use numbers and facts. If Angry Uncle makes an argument based on a conspiracy theory, say so. Prove it with evidence.
Remember that change is scary and intimidating – even for you.
Don’t blame. Fix.