When Politics Comes Up At Thanksgiving – Some Conversational Help

Do you find that your turkey time tends to turn into an awkward stilted conversation of the weather or, even worse, how poorly your local football team is doing?  No need to worry, the following are a few conversation starters that can be used in any tight situation.

First, Alternet offers Five Ways to Deal with Your Conservative Relatives.  From “Keeping the infighting on the right” to “Talk about TSA gropings,” you’ve got sure fire ways to defuse any potential awkwardness at the dinner table. 

Brush up on Obama conspiracy theories. There’s a good chance you’ll need to defend the president against some of the more outrageous claims being circulated by Fox News–especially the claim that he hasn’t done anything useful for the country. Now, if your relatives are of the “Obama is a Marxist, Satanist, Islamic fundamentalist who wants to put our children in re-education camps” persuasion, you should probably just invest in a hip flask or three and plan on getting out of there ASAP. But assuming you’re dining with nominally reasonable human beings, you should brush up on what the heck Obama has done so far. Conveniently, you can gather some key facts and stats at the Web site What the Heck Has Obama Done So Far (or its raunchier cousin, if that’s more your style). “Yes, cousin Billy, Obama does support our troops; he’s helped provide crucial services like transportation for families of fallen soldiers to Dover air base and counseling for veterans,” you might say. And don’t forget to remember credible sources in case they don’t believe you.

Slate also has ways to prep for any potential political arguments, providing a Cliff Notes primer of top debates with both the for and against positions.  Like this one, on the Bush Tax cuts.

Extending the Bush tax cuts
Extend all of them forever: If Democrats allow taxes to increase, we’re going to have our next Thanksgiving at Burger King. The fluttering recovery would plummet into a freefall. You can’t just extend the tax rates for “middle income” families as President Obama would like because that’s unfair. Plus, raising the upper rate would unfairly hit small-business owners, and small business accounts for 70 percent of the net new jobs in an economy. Having Lower marginal rates means people have more money they can invest, which boosts growth, which shrinks deficits. It’s win-win-win!

Don’t extend any of them at all: Let’s remember why we are in this fix: Republicans couldn’t win the tax-cut debate on the merits of the magical no-deficits argument 10 years ago, so they had to use a gimmick to pass the cuts temporarily, assuming that no one would have the guts to let them expire. Let’s have the guts and stop these kinds of gimmicks. A balanced budget is important, because deficits lead to higher interest rates, which will kill growth as borrowing becomes more expensive. Ending the Bush tax cuts would bring in $3.3 trillion. As for job creation and economic stimulus, CBO says extending the tax cuts would not give you much bang for the buck. We could spend some of the money saved from letting the tax cuts expire on true job-creating stimulus (which voters say they want more than tax cuts anyway). Money could better be used on aid for the states, extending unemployment insurance benefits, or creating tax credits that favor job creation.

Meanwhile, I wish that we could stop having this debate and start a real one over tax simplification, with lower rates and fewer loopholes.

Extend them temporarily: Higher taxes would kill consumer spending and probably the recovery. Raising the top rates might not kill the recovery, but that’s not a certainty—and it certainly wouldn’t help improve things. Plus, it is politically impossible with moderate Democrats voting against only a partial extension. So, let the tax cuts stay, permanently, for everyone making under $250,000 and extend them temporarily for those in the highest bracket. Let’s remember that lowering the rates for those making less than $250,000 benefits everyone, including the wealthy. And let’s not buy into the small-business myth: Fewer than 2 percent of small businesses pay the higher rate for those making more than $250,000 (or $170,000 for individuals).

Meanwhile, I wish that we could stop having this debate and start a real one over tax simplification, with lower rates and fewer loopholes. To make this happen we should follow Kent Conrad’s proposal for tying any extension of the tax cuts to fundamental reform. If reform isn’t passed in 18 months, rates start to inch up or revert to the Clinton-era levels. When politicians can’t find courage to act, they should write it into law.

Ok, but what if that super-tough abortion topic comes up?  NARAL has you covered there.

Given this particular political season, your relatives might have some questions about John Boehner, the incoming speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Uncle Marv might try to tell you that Boehner isn’t focused on attacking choice. That’s when you can jump in with the facts about Boehner’s anti-choice agenda
Since entering the House in 1991, Boehner has cast 142 votes on abortion and other reproductive-rights issues. All 142 were anti-choice! While Boehner’s bad record on choice is miles long, most people just don’t know that much about him yet. Now’s the time to let your friends and family know about how the new Congress will attack a woman’s right choose.

Still not sure what to say?  Maybe it’s time to stop all political talk, and just ask your family to pass you the stuffing.

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Sheri P.
Sheri P7 years ago

Yeah, well, if you don't like leftist/progressive then what are you doing here? And what's wrong with Huffington post? I think it's great. There are so many right wing stick-in-the-muds out there with plenty of platforms and voices, it's only fair that there are options for us leftist/progressives.

Ronald Ellsworth
Ronald E7 years ago

Deborah is correct. Pres. Obama has learned you can't reason with the idiots. Unfortunately, he is sounding like he wants to keep trying to. I don't try to reason with Reprehenslican In-Laws unless I sense there is hope for them. Regardless of their political views, religious idiocy, or whatever, I still like them all for reasons that are much more important than politics and religion. No relative of this family would hesitate to give you the shirt off their back if you needed one, even if you're Muslim, L leaning or R Wing Nutter. Our competition is for the "biggest fish caught" pool.

Zoe Zidbeck
Zoe Zee7 years ago

Perfect time to bring up top dead center Ranked Ballot, which, while it always chooses the one most exactly in the middle, gives an equal chance of winning to all combinationsd of programs.

Frank B.
Frank Bartlo7 years ago

How about "Give it a break for ONE day, already." That one can apply wherever you stand.

Patricia S.
Pat S7 years ago

Care2 is a very, very left progressive site. Like going to the Huffington Post site.

Sue T.
Susan T7 years ago

How about "5 ways to deal with your liberal progressive relatives" ?

care2 you make me feel so left out and I find your intolerance close to bully-ing

Valraven N.
Valraven N7 years ago

I looked at this article because I thought it would be about the politics of being vegetarian at a table where everyone is eating turkey! Regardless, I agree with several of the comments here...it's thoughtless and bad etiquette to talk about politics at a special family gathering. People are together to celebrate and to talk about pleasant things, maybe share some happy family stories (even if the stories have been told before!) to have some laughs and get away from the stress of day to day pressures. Forget about politics. No need to cause indigestion.

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W7 years ago

It's really sad that the looney left gets so warped by politics they can't even live a normal life or have normal conversations. But that's one of the differences between the left and the right. We on the right have real lives and successes to show, and really don't think about government unless it tries to take our money or regulate us. Those on the left look to government to solve all the problems in their miserable lives, and find anything that interferes with government handouts to be evil.

In short, the life of the looney leftist is infused with government and resentment, The life of the guy on the right is indifferent to politics and government because we have a lot better things in our lives.

Lindsey DTSW
.7 years ago

I agree with you, Mary. Family gatherings like Thanksgiving really aren't the place to start conversations at the table that are likely to end up causing hard feelings and indigestion.

David M.
Eva Daniher7 years ago

Carl Sagan once titled a chapter in one of his books: "What are Conservatives conserving?".