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Life

How to Handle Political Talk at the Dinner Table: Holiday Edition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

What do you do when your racist uncle starts talking about his savior, Trump, at the dinner table this Thanksgiving? Ignore it or confront it? 

I would say that the golden rule of family holidays, and mealtimes in general, is to avoid talking about political concepts at all costs. Holidays are a time for peace, love, and unity; and politics is anything but that. 

However, it is quite expected that your Trump-loving family members may be bitter and bring up misconceived ideas or opinions on the current political climate of our country. So, when faced with the inevitable conversation about the election and therefore political ideologies, my main advice would be to keep it civil, informative, and in the format of a discussion rather than an argument. For example, if your cousin says something along the lines of “this election was so rigged” or “Biden stole that election,” I would advise to first ask why they think this way. Usually, and this is solely based on my experience, the respondent will deliver a Fox-News-sourced commentary on various situations where ballots were mistakenly given to Biden or others were forged. This is where your knowledge and factual evidence to why these statements are false would come in handy, or you could straight up ask where they got their information from. In either case, your cousin will probably stumble with your response and get flustered at the idea that they were proven wrong, replying with a last-attempt at maintaining their dignity by saying “you’re so brainwashed” or “darn you liberal/democrat.” Other times, you may become engaged in an intellectual conversation about your differing point of views that stray away from ideas of the election. This can be the cause of more turbulence with the topics of social ideas, which are the main focus of difference. I would stick to the same route of asking intriguing questions about the other’s stances to better understand why they think this way and to keep the fallout to a bare minimum. Most Trump supporters lack true depth to why they obsessively support the guy, and this hopefully will show within their answers and dalipadate any argument they had. Overall, I would say the best way to attack a political discussion is to always stay calm and level-headed, and to never let your emotions get the best of you. 

To make sure you are totally prepared for every possible situation that you could be put in when faced with confronting ignorant family members about the so-called “fraudulent” election, I would recommend learning from trustworthy sources. MediaBiasChart.com does a wonderful job at supplying the best sources for political information by graphing how biased all media sites are. The best sites and places to rely on for unbiased information on politics are news stations such as AP Reuters, The Denver Post, The New York Times, Houston Chronicle, and The Washington Post – just to name a few. From here, you can collect and gather any information you need or desire to learn that can be retained back at your family during your holiday meals. 

I understand if you would like to ignore your family’s oppressive comments at the table, but in today’s day and age it is time for you to challenge their thoughts and opinions and create a dialogue for change. As a white female in a financially stable environment, I feel it is the duty of white people to do this on behalf of those we claim to support and love. If you want to help and build a more accepting society, then you need to take the small steps to do so by looking within your own family environment. 

Hopefully, any Trump supporters in your family or at your table this Fall/Winter season will be too busy licking their wounds to make snide comments about politics; but if not, use the advice I have shared to approach situations at hand with sophistication rather than belligerence. 

Happy Holidays!

Contributors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst