5 Ways to Deal With Your Conservative Relatives This Thanksgiving
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3. Bring up the Koch brothers. AlterNet’s Adele Stan wrote an article last month about the massive quantities of corporate dollars flowing into the Tea Party movement and funding its activities. As Stan points out, “Though billed as a people's movement, the Tea Party wouldn't exist without a gusher of cash from oil billionaire David H. Koch and the vast media empire of Rupert Murdoch. Many of the small donations to Tea Party candidates have been cultivated by either Fox News Channel, a property of Murdoch's News Corporation, or the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, chaired by Koch. The movement's major organizations are all run, not by first-time, mad-as-hell activists, but by former GOP officials or operatives.” Read the article, memorize its facts, and be ready to blithely drop them into conversation whenever someone mentions the “authentic,” “grassroots” anger of the Tea Partiers. Your relatives might also take offense to the Kochs having sponsored “elitist,” liberal, Northeasterny things like the New York City Ballet; if so, mention freely.
4. Talk TSA gropings. If there’s one issue that pretty much the entire country, conservatives and liberals alike, can agree on, it’s the absurdity of the TSA’s invasive body scanners and “enhanced pat-downs.” Diffuse any tension that may have erupted over dinner (while subtly spreading radical ideas) by inviting everyone to share their TSA horror stories: “What’s the worst airport security experience you’ve ever had?” No one wants to be groped or manhandled, even if we disagree on how to best handle terrorism threats. If you feel safe upping the ante, point out: “We allowed torture and rendition in the name of keeping us safe from terrorists, and no one spoke up, so this latest incarnation of TSA security theater was an inevitability.”
5. Find common ground by pointing out generational differences. Perhaps you’re on the younger side, and your mom is getting uncomfortable with all the red faces among your older relatives. Bring things down a notch for her sake. Shake your head and shrug, and point out that on most major issues of contention, younger people are significantly more liberal-leaning--that’s just the way it is. Let your relatives grumble about that, and change the subject. But you know the subtext of the point you just made: change is coming, whether they like it or not! Now pass the stuffing.
AlterNet readers, share your coping methods in the comments, and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Sarah Seltzer is an associate editor at AlterNet, an RH Reality Check staff writer and a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published in Bitch, Venus Zine, Women's eNews and Publishers' Weekly and can be found at sarahmseltzer.com. Lauren Kelley is an associate editor at AlterNet and a freelance writer and editor who has contributed to Change.org, the L Magazine and Time Out New York. She lives in Brooklyn.