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Survive your family’s obnoxious political debates with these handy guides

Don’t sit down for Thanksgiving dinner before you’ve read these over.


Tim Sampson


For many, Thanksgiving is a valued chance to visit family and reconnect with distant relatives. But thanks to increasing political polarization, often divided along generational lines, these reunions can frequently be marred by vitriolic debates.

A Pew Research Center study released last year found that polarization has been statistically on the rise for the past quarter century. Looking at trends from 1987 through 2012, Pew found that the “values gap” between the two major parties has never been wider. The divide shows itself in many ways—values, economics and religion among them. But one of the most divisive issues can be environmental policy.

“Republicans are most distinguished by their increasingly minimalist views about the role of government and lack of support for environmentalism,” the study stated.

Family debates over this issue have gotten so common that the Sierra Club has issued a survival guide to help environmentally progressive individuals prepare for arguments with, say, their “Drill, baby drill!” cousin.

The interactive site gives stock responses for debating a variety of viewpoints, everything from the classically contrarian uncle who thinks green energy technologies are too “pie in the sky” to the sister who wants to be green but thinks it’s too hard.

“Have an uncle who thinks environmentalists are socialists?,” the Sierra Club writes on its site. “No problem. A cousin who doesn’t quite understand climate change? We’ve got you covered. How about an aunt who thinks coal is so cool that she actually likes getting it in her stocking? Yep, we got that one, too.”

But the Sierra Club is hardly the only institution preparing people for dinner table politics this year. The Washington Post recently put out a guide for discussing the Affordable Care Act at Thanksgiving this year.

“This Thanksgiving, it’s a pretty safe bet that debates over Obamacare will be just about as central as turkey,” the Post writes.

On this front, the Obama administration has put out its own guide to promoting the new healthcare law over the holidays, viewing the season as a chance to rebound from all the negative press since’s glitch-plagued rollout.

“If you have family members who are uninsured, you can play a big part in helping them find coverage that works for them,” the administration’s Healthcare for the Holiday’s site reads.

But this tactic doesn’t sit well with some, who see it as an effort by the administration to promote political strife during the holidays. The Tea Party Patriots have released their own Thanksgiving Toolkit to counteract the pro-Affordable Care Act push.

“The Holiday season is just around the corner and if you thought you were going to get a chance to sit around the table and forget about the craziness of this world and enjoy some good quality time with your family, think again,” the Tea Party writes.

Photo by DESSART/Flickr

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