Why It Might Be a Good Idea to Talk Politics at Thanksgiving.


Why It Might Be a Good Idea to Talk Politics at Thanksgiving.

Most folks have made one thing clear ahead of Thanksgiving: they don’t want a side dish of political debate with their turkey.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted between November 11 and 15, 66 percent of 1,378 American adults polled indicated they hoped to avoid discussing politics with family or friends during Thanksgiving.

Fortunately for the majority of those polled, 50% thought it was unlikely that their loved ones would engage in a heated political dispute. People want to avoid politics at the dinner table, according to the responses.

This is somewhat unsurprising, given the strongly politicized tenor of current political discourse in the United States.

The greater the chasm, the more likely there will be huge disagreements, and when people on opposite sides can’t even agree on a common set of facts, ideological divides appear to be even more difficult to reconcile.

But, if there is to be a route out of this massive stalemate, should the journey begin at home? While furious debates are unlikely to be beneficial, constructive discussions may be.

James Campbell, author of Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America, was asked by Washington Newsday if he felt addressing politics over Thanksgiving could help reconcile the country’s partisan divide.

Campbell, a UB distinguished professor of political science at the University of Buffalo, told The Washington Newsday, “This is becoming a harder topic to solve.”

“I would have definitely stated, when I wrote Polarized around five years ago, that people need to talk about politics at any moment, and I still believe that, for the most part.”

“The more we discuss about politics, especially with those with whom we disagree, the more likely we are to comprehend the reasons for other points of view and to think less severely of those who disagree with us.”

While “abstract differences can readily be villainized,” disagreements “with actual persons sitting in front of us are more generally humanized—especially when we know people socially and deal with them on non-political topics,” according to Campbell.

One problem in discussions is that “differences are so intense and so anchored in different understandings of what the facts are,” he added, causing conversations to “blow up” before any understanding of the facts is reached. This is a condensed version of the information.


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