It’s the day before Thanksgiving and battle lines are being drawn. GQ says, “It’s your civic duty to ruin Thanksgiving by bringing up Trump.” Meanwhile, my pro-Trump friends are sharing memes that say, “This Thanksgiving don’t forget to remind your liberal family members that Trump is their president.” The Washington Times published a “Trump-era Thanksgiving guide to conservative arguments for your liberal relatives” while Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted a chart that claims the Republican tax bill will raise taxes on the middle class. “Bring this chart to Thanksgiving dinner,” Schumer urged.
Let the cringing begin.
As both sides gird for the skirmish around the Thanksgiving table, a large minority dreads the seemingly inevitable political discussion. An NBC poll found that a third of Americans dread the political talk at the table. Only 20 percent look forward to political turkey talk.
In essence, 20 percent of Americans are trying to drive the discussion at Thanksgiving toward their pet political positions, regardless of whether it ruins Thanksgiving for everyone else. In some cases, ruining Thanksgiving is the goal. My message to these people is to knock it off.
Thanksgiving is not about politics. Unfortunately, our nation and culture are so deeply politicized that not even Thanksgiving dinner is immune. The politicization of Thanksgiving began in earnest last year with a host of articles about how to survive Thanksgiving in the wake of one the most polarizing and controversial elections in American history.
The past year has not healed wounds from the epic battle of the unpopular candidates. In fact, with the recent explosion of sexual misconduct charges on both sides of the aisle, this year may be worse. It is not a foregone conclusion that this year’s table talk will be rated “G” with topics such as Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Wes Goodman and Al Franken on the table.
Partisans of both sides should be aware that they are not going to sway political views by attacking the deeply-held beliefs of other family members on Thanksgiving. The result of such a strategy would be more likely to persuade other family members that you are… a synonym for a donkey (note that this does not imply a Democrat political affiliation).
As to Senator Schumer’s chart, talk of tax reform in combination with large amounts of turkey and stuffing is not going to make you the life of the Thanksgiving celebration. If you insist on discussing tax rates during or after Thanksgiving dinner, the result will only be to push your family into a turkey-induced food coma that much quicker.
Thanksgiving is about acknowledging the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. Whether we are on the right, left or in the middle, we should be able to recognize that, compared to the vast majority of the world, Americans have it really good. Whether you like Donald Trump or not, we are all one-percenters in global terms. Thanksgiving is the time to express gratitude for that.
An appropriate way of observing Thanksgiving would be to celebrate what we have in common with our family members instead of picking at old wounds. Reaching out in friendship is more in keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving than is political sparring over the stuffing. If the Pilgrims and the Indians can come together for a peaceful meal, Republicans and Democrats should be able to do the same.
Do we really not get enough of politics that we can’t declare an informal truce on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas? Is there nothing so sacred in American life that it cannot be tainted with partisan political bickering? This Thanksgiving, let’s resolve to take a break from the poisonous politics of 2017. People who cannot be civil through Thanksgiving dinner should be banished to the kids’ table where they belong.