Why We Should Talk About Politics
About two years ago, in 2015, millions of American families came around the table lain with food, with the turkey as the centerpiece, ready to eat and discuss anything. Political discussion was common, pacified, and anything was ready for debate.
Then came the year that many considered to be the death of the United States. The rise of Trump in 2016 divided many family and friends, and soon the discussion at the table ceased.
Either due to an unspoken pact or the ruling heads of the family, political discussion was reduced to individual and private conversations in the corner of the room. The toxicity of potential fights was too much to bear.
A lot of people may think that because Thanksgiving is a time of happiness and unity, that we should avoid the things that divide us. Those that think silence is more unifying than discussion should be convinced otherwise.
For many people, Thanksgiving is the one time a lot of them can get together with their family, and this means that it’s the only time they can talk about problems. Democracy requires conversation in order to work, and if we don’t try talking about what’s happening, then the cyclical political bubble everyone is stuck in continues.
“We’ve always been politically motivated in this family,” said Kevin Collins, a Veterinarian and father, “I’ve never tried to censor anything no matter the occasion.”
While he may be a good example of a person who hasn’t tried to avoid politics at a family gathering, there are many others where that is not the case. Often, in families that support Trump, there’s a divide as soon as his name is mentioned.
“That does it. The communal spell is broken. I’ve ruined Thanksgiving,” according to a Politico essay written by Mark Bauerlein. He himself a Trump supporter found it difficult to deal with his family when they finally reconciled in a holiday meant for union.
Interestingly, he later calls for unity among all sides of the political aisle, and says that everyone should be considerate of where a person with opposite opinions may come from. A peaceful discussion is possible if you are empathetic to a person’s background.
There are many who will still deny politics at any gathering, and no amount of convincing will change this fact. However, there is an unspoken pact of lies between families who don’t speak their opinions, and often this can result in one final blow to the false unity that existed.
Unity comes in the strength to share and debate our views. It’s the foundation of democracy everywhere that it exists, and denying ourselves that right isn’t helping the current state of American government.
Photo credit: Norman Rockwell
Caption: Happiness and unity may be important, but debate makes us stronger.