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Nov 20 2017
by Saman Aamer

5 Ways to Discuss Politics At Thanksgiving

By Saman Aamer - Nov 20 2017

Politics have always been the center of controversy at family dinners. Nowadays, however, political opinions divide the entire country. Much of this conflict occurs on social media, with tensions not only between Democrats and Republicans, but "liberals" and "alt-rights." Accusations between individuals include insults such as "socialist," "fascist," and "modern Nazi." However, during times like Thanksgiving we are forced to come out from behind our screens and have civil conversations with those that don't agree with us. Here are 5 easy ways to talk about politics at Thanksgiving.

1. Realize that you can't change everyone's opinion.

Sometimes, no matter how much evidence you have to support your argument, people just don't listen. Don't expect to convert everyone's point of view, or you'll end up disappointed.

2. Listen to other points of view without interrupting.

In my personal experience, interruptions often lead to aggravation and shouting over each other. This accomplishes nothing. No matter how stupid you think your family member's argument is, wait until they are done before speaking, and stay calm at all times.

3. Find the points that you agree on, if possible.

Finding common ground will make your opinions seem more aligned with each other's, even if they are as opposite as night and day. By focusing the conversation on similarities you are able to then have conversations about the small differences in opinion, in a more civil manner. 

4. Focus on understanding others rather than debating.

In a debate, your goal is to win. At the end of the day, you will probably keep your beliefs and they will probably keep theirs. So, winning shouldn't be your goal this Thanksgiving. Rather, try to understand why your family member feels the way they do. Ask them to expand on their views or provide you with evidence or reasoning for why they feel that way. Knowing more about why they believe what they believe can go a long way into understanding their choices. 

5. Change the topic if things start to get out of hand.

If you notice someone getting angry, drop the topic. Sometimes, politics can't be discussed without a heated argument. It is better to preserve a family relationship rather than duke out a political debate where no one walks away a winner.

By following these guidelines, you'll be more likely to avoid a Thanksgiving disaster. Remember, this is one of the few nights your family gets to spend time together. Make the most of it, and save the arguments for the family group chat.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Saman Aamer - Rutgers University - New Brunswick

Saman is a freshman at Rutgers University-New Brunswick in the School of Arts and Sciences. Aside from writing, she has various interests from music to science to activism. Saman has been saving money since she was ten so she could follow her dream of traveling the world. Fun Facts: She has a twin sister, can speak three languages (though not all fluently), and has the largest sweet tooth possible! Follow on Instagram at saman.aamer or email for inquiries at

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