It has been a long-standing tradition to gather around the table with your family and be merry — to eat food and just celebrate and enjoy each other’s company on Thanksgiving Day. While everyone eats, conversation ensues, which can be of topics that vary from family to family.
Commonly though, it’s about family business and politics. It could be about national politics, international or even just local, but it’s a normal occurrence. It’s expected, really, for that to come up when elections are so close in November. That does raise the question though; is it a bad idea to bring it up at all?
Most people are used to having to sit through these conversations, especially through their childhoods. It isn’t normally a positive experience, though. It can end in harsh arguments or boiling tensions, usually ruining the spirit of the holiday. It’s never fun to sit through that, no matter whose side you’re on. Not everybody lets the arguments of the outside world interfere with their family relations though, and it can make the day more enjoyable. But should all talk of politics be avoided? It’s really hard to say, because many valid and civil conversations could happen too.
According to a 2018 Pew survey, 59 percent of adult Americans are okay with discussing politics with their families, but the other 40 percent avoids the topic completely. That 59 percent might be thanks to the fact that usually 64 percent of American families share views. Statistically, it should be alright to discuss it, right?
What people seem to forget about though is that the other 9 percent don’t have anyone to agree with, or the 42 percent that have “most.” Considering that, there is a pretty good chance that you could be singling out a few family members, even if you don’t see them often.
For some people, politics is a way of life. If anyone in your family works for the government or anything involved in politics, it’s very hard to avoid. Unless it’s outright said to not talk about it, the chances are very high for it to come up at the table.
It’s even harder if this person truly cares about their cause — their whole career is centered around their beliefs, why would they want someone in their family to disagree with them about it? It can depend on the family how they take these conversations, if they’re more open to reason, or stronger in their ideas, but most of the time, disagreement can lead to strain in relationships. Especially since the 2016 election, people have been disagreeing more than ever.
There is the other option though: if discussing politics in your family doesn’t spark argument, then it can be enjoyable. Being able to toss around ideas with other people can be refreshing to your perspective. It doesn’t have to be tense — conversations can be civil if everyone is considerate enough. This is much harder to find in today’s world though.
While it’s entirely up to you to encourage or discourage the subject, it’s really a matter of how well your family can take controversial conversations. How strongly your family feels about it, and if you think it has the potential to spiral out of control.
While it is becoming more and more blurry with today’s politics, there is potential to have a good Thanksgiving dinner with civil conversations. How willing are you to let this subject drop in your family? It is a hard question for most people to answer, but maybe if everyone cares enough, then this year we can all have an enjoyable Thanksgiving with the people we love.