Strategies for Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner with Trump Supporters in Your Family
In a few days, Americans will stuff themselves to the point of bursting in a holiday that was founded in gratitude. Whether you’re getting together with friends or family or both, if you are choosing to celebrate Thanksgiving, odds are, there might be a Trump supporter at the table. In some families, you might even be outnumbered, sometimes substantially. If they’re anything like the man himself, their mouth is watering not over the food on Thanksgiving, but in relishing the opportunity to gloat and rub it in.
Take a deep breath.
Here is a guide to not only surviving Thanksgiving dinner with Trump supporters. I will share some tips for helping you remain a better person while still casting doubts about the Republican party among the quasi-political in your family, but giving the diehard nutjobs no satisfaction at all.
If you’re visiting with family, the first thing to remember is that you can’t choose your family, so remember to be civil, no matter what. Nobody wins if Thanksgiving turns into a bloodbath. You win if you look like the bigger person and someone else shows their true racist, sexist, and selfish colors.
Strategies to Help you Plan for a Political Thanksgiving Dinner
Find an ally in your Family ahead of the event
In most families, there are several people on both sides of the aisle. Odds are, you have an ally. Maybe it’s your female cousin who is appalled by pussygate. Maybe it’s your Aunt who is worried that Trump is setting a pretty bad example because she’s worried about bullying in her kids’ elementary school.
Think it through before you arrive, and if you’re not 100% certain about a family member’s stance, you can start a conversation with that person when you see them at dinner. Tell them truthfully that you’re hurting, and that you’d really appreciate their help in keeping politics from ruining your Thanksgiving as well as the rest of the family’s.
If they are an ally, they will probably use that opportunity to let you know, at which point, hug them, let them know you love them, and that they are not alone. Odds are, they’ve been dreading this dinner as much as you (but weren’t lucky enough to stumble on this article). You’ll solidify and deepen a relationship with this person if you can help alleviate their worry. Bond with these allies and promise them to connect after the holidays with a plan of action to recapture sanity in America.
If they’re not an ally, per se, but want to enjoy civil Thanksgiving, they’ll at least be an ally and supporter for the next 24 hours, and who knows…maybe you’ll turn them against Trump going forward when they see rabid idiots on one side and cool-headed, community-minded, emotionally intelligent people like you on the other side.
Ask to Keep Politics Away from the Dinner Table
If you are completely alone in your political views or just fully outnumbered, perhaps begin Thanksgiving dinner with a polite request that politics be left out of this celebration of gratitude.
If your family has the tradition of expressing gratitude in turn around the table prior to dinner, it can be as simple as “I am thankful for everyone here, and grateful to have time to spend with family. I’d also be very grateful if we can just have a nice dinner and not talk politics. Any other subject is fine.” This will earn you points among anyone that isn’t a full-blown Nazi / Trump supporter. Family members that might have spent hours slaving over a hot stove to make a nice dinner and they are probably worried that civil war will erupt at the dinner table, ruining all their hard work. You being preemptive will settle their stomach and allow them to enjoy what they’re here for: dinner with the family.
If you have no ally at the table, remember to breathe, and remember you’re not alone. Millions of women will be marching in Washington DC and around the country in January and the political unrest that is coming will dwarf anything we’ve seen in the past. Be kind to yourself and also be strong. If you’re reading this, know that there are 60 million Americans who voted for Hillary that feel your pain, agree with you, and have your back.
Prepare to Change the Subject!
If these other Trump Thanksgiving strategy fails, have a few lines prepared to change the subject. Comments on food, or comments on your Aunt’s new car, or inquiring about the kids are likely pretty safe topics. Practice these ahead of time if you think you’ll need to. (More on this in a moment).
What to do if Thanksgiving turns into a Political Event
Try to Find Common Ground
Regardless of where they fall on the red/blue side of things, most people can find common ground with the ideas that most of us are sick of the American political system. This line of argument implies that your family is smart enough to know that Trump is a terrible person but gives them the “out” of acknowledging that they voted for him as a response to not wanting Hillary, not because they’re bad people too.
Many Americans are angry with the feeling that they’re not being represented. It’s hard to represent everyone when there’s 350 million people, so it’s an unrealistic thing– but this is the fear that Trump tapped into. In addition, Hillary wasn’t very “cool”. No one wanted to have a beer with her, and Trump told people what they wanted to hear. (This leads naturally to the argument you can make later that Trump is little more than a snake oil / used car salesman, and won a lot of support making promises that will obviously never be delivered, like Mexico paying for a wall to be built on US soil to keep Mexicans out of the country).
The majority of Americans also disagree, since Trump lost the general election by more than a million votes and only won through the electoral college, which is an archaic system developed in the 1770’s when people couldn’t read and needed someone else to represent them. This quick fact sets the stage for a future argument: the fact that educated people strongly favored Hillary).
Let them Express Themselves, But Shut it Down
If your family is anything like mine, you have at least one uncle who just won’t be able to help himself with a snide remark aimed at starting an argument. Mine couldn’t help it 16 years ago when the Bush v. Gore election was still up in the air at Thanksgiving time, opening the floodgates of argument around a divided table. This particular uncle taught me the meaning of the word rape, at age 9, when he couldn’t help but relay a story to me and my cousin about black men that raped a white girl and cut her arms off afterwards. Sickeningly, and to get closure, I had to research it years later and found no record at all of such an incident occurring, but, as the saying goes, “no one’s born a bigot”, and this is how it’s passed from generation to generation. Most people have at least one person like this in their family, and they’re perhaps likely to be Trump supporters waiting to kick us while we’re down.
If the first political comment hits dead air and no one else chimes in, you might just smile at that person and fix them with a solid, yet soft-eyed look of compassion. Deep down, these people may have created a lonely world for themselves due to all the BS lies they know they’ve bought into in order to justify their bigotry. After just a moment of silence, employ the lines you have ready to change the subject. You’ll make the civil people in your family see that you’re trying to keep peace.
If others support that statement and the conversation continues, however, try to cut it off relatively quickly and let people know you respect their opinion, that you respectfully disagree, and reiterate a call to not talk politics at the dinner table. At that point, if the racist uncle continues, he’ll just alienate himself and embarrass his confederates. You will have succeeded in being the bigger person and win some of the more moderate people in your family over to our side. (They may actually talk to you afterwards, just to hear an alternative viewpoint from someone with a level head, at which point, it’s good to have all the ammunition you’ll need, below.)
Save Thanksgiving Dinner with these Facts about Trump
If the quick facts and call for civility fail, maybe it’s time to take the gloves off. Just remember, if you argue, pick your battles accordingly. Don’t try to argue greenhouse gases if your family has never studied science, but you can say that continued use of fossil fuels was cited by the Pentagon as a national security threat that will make the Syrian refugee crisis look like child’s play, as it sets 200 million people adrift looking for new homes in the coming decades.
Intellectual-ish Arguments to get you Through a Trump Thanksgiving
The Religious Argument
If your family is religious, there are any number of things you can point out that are nonreligious about the modern Republican party, and wonder aloud, “How did the party of Reagan turn into the party of Trump? Hate, fear, and greed are not christian values. Loving and serving the poor is what Jesus taught, regardless of gender or skin color.” Then of course, any of the umpteen million heinous things Trump has said, none of which is very christian. “Mexicans are rapists.” That you should try to f**k married women, and if they don’t appreciate your advance, just “Grab ’em by the p***y”. That he’d bang his own daughter. And so on…
The Children Argument
The example set for our kids–be a bully, cheat on your taxes, lie, sexually assault married women (and grab ‘em by the pussy if they don’t appreciate your advances), consider people of other colors rapists…. Trump’s a bully and the Republican congress acts like children. That’s perhaps one reason why educated people have left the party in droves. And it’s one of the main reasons we will win eventually and that Trump’s approval ratings will be potentially worse than Bush’s.
The Education Argument
The gap of educated vs. uneducated. 11 million more Americans with college degrees voted for Clinton than Trump. This was about 10x the difference between Obama and Romney.
The Disappearing Party Argument
The presidency has little meaning anymore–people vote based on who they’d rather have a beer with, and clearly qualifications mean very little to people. The highly conservative Cincinnati newspaper hadn’t endorsed a Democrat in almost 100 years until this year. So many people will regret their vote in this election after they see what this guy is really all about (as opposed to the snake oil he sold). Bill Clinton and Barack Obama leave office with 55% or greater approval ratings. Bush was at 22%. At some point, people will remember Trump and Bush as the only Republicans they’ve known in their lifetime, and hopefully become lifetime Democrats in response.
The KKK and a thinly veiled American Nazi party organized a victory rally for Trump–so it appears there’s still a lot of racism in America, and racists need a champion, too.
Funny, pressure-relief arguments
Don’t ever forget that hard-working Americans have voted for a dude who’s not really had a real job before. The presidency will be Donald Trump’s first real job; he was a trust fund baby who blew millions of dollar of inheritance money, and then made a career swindling people through one scheme or another.
And the wall between the United States and Mexico? I’m sure Mexico is starting a fund to build it already.
What does he actually do? He’s a snake oil salesman…he told people what they wanted to believe. So perhaps offer to adorn someone’s stuffing with some Trump Brand Snake Oil (“this here snake oil will cure your migraines, release you of impotence, AND make all those pesky repo men go away!”)
Whatever happens this Thursday and the surrounding holidays, we wish you joyful events with your friends and family. If you have to tough it out in a conservative family weekend, just remember to enjoy your food and the company of others. You are a good person and have plenty of friends that share your views of a world of hope, love, and optimism.
And here are some more quick points to remember when you’re feeling down: There is no love lost between the Donald and many others in the GOP. Expect them to sabotage him in any way possible (e.g., put an attractive young intern in his office and wait for the inevitable). Second, young people overwhelmingly voted for Hillary. That’s the future of America. Older, racist ideas will die off over time. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The Donald is a temporary, ugly period of American history and will someday be a distant memory.
If you have other ideas for peace or quick – hitting arguments to share, please do so in the comments below, and we may add them to the article! Please
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