How to Be Persuasive About Politics With Your Liberal Relatives on Thanksgiving
Beverly Hallberg /
We want Thanksgiving to be as drama-free as possible for everyone. Because you can’t choose your family, it’s likely you have sharp disagreements with several members.
You may already be suffering from panic attacks in anticipation of the many dinner tables you’ll have to sit around.
But as we’ve written for the past few months, there is a way to have a sane conversation about politics with the people in your life. So let’s close the chapter on 2016 and hope for good things in 2017. How can you be prepared no matter what political topic comes up between dinner bites?
There are many things we can agree on over the holidays: meals are better when you don’t have to cook them yourself, football all day is the best thing ever, and portion control is absurd.
Also, we’re pretty sure most people don’t head into Thanksgiving hoping for bitter conflict, a total meltdown, and the permanent severing of relationships. No one wants this for you, and you don’t want it for yourself.
Preparation is key. Think through the policy issues you disagree on first, and then have a strategy to tie that disagreement back to agreement. Listen first, acknowledge their concerns, and then block and bridge to an issue you agree on.
Here’s a guide to get you started.
We’re in the middle of open enrollment season and Americans are seeing their premiums skyrocket—more than 22 percent just this year according to the latest reports. Even Bill Clinton called Obamacare the “craziest thing in the world.” (Wouldn’t that be a fun Thanksgiving dinner table to sit around?)
Yet, you may have a family member still buying the company line that Obamacare is good for those who need insurance. What’s the best way to respond?
Tip: Personal anecdotes are powerful. Talk about how your premiums have tripled or how you no longer have access to the plans you want. Also, use stats and examples that prove Obamacare has achieved the opposite of what we were promised. Focus on the broken system, higher costs, longer wait times, and less choice.
More tips on how to win on Obamacare.
After this election cycle, you might break into hives if you hear “income inequality” one more time. Us too. But maybe you have a cousin who likes to throw this term around like confetti—especially at family gatherings. The best way to engage in a thoughtful discussion with a big government lover?
Tip: While the words “income inequality” aren’t threatening on a piece of paper, we know the phrase has meant something entirely different in political conversation since being hijacked by the big government side. A good place to start is to use different language.
Use phrases like “equal opportunity,” “hard work,” or “achieve the American dream” to better illustrate your point—it’s more effective to give someone the opportunity to succeed instead of handing out freebies.
How to win on income inequality.
It’s all fun and games until Uncle Jim changes the subject during dinner to tax policy. While this issue might glaze over just as many eyes as it does candied yams, it’s a different story when charges of “tax the rich” and the “1 percent” get interjected.
How do you combat feel-good sounding words with facts and numbers? (Because we all know calculators don’t have feelings.)
Tip: Use examples and numbers to combat those nice sounding phrases. RE: 1 percent argument?
Say something like, “The rich can afford to pay more, but you know who can’t? Everyone else. The more money the rich have to give to Uncle Sam, the more they have to downsize, which often leads to fewer jobs for you and me. It’s a losing situation.”
How to win on taxes.
For winning strategy on other topics, read here.
In these conversations, saying things like “I understand what you are saying” or “here’s where I agree with you” before you outline your disagreement is helpful to diffuse a potential argument.
But in addition to words, tone is so important. Keep it calm. And if you find yourself struggling to filter the words coming out of your mouth, take a big bite of mashed potatoes instead.
District Media Group always recommends carbs over conflict during the holiday season. But also (maybe) in life.