Liberals, it’s been a trying year. The Commander in Chief’s megalomania only grows. Any efforts to counter unprecedented abuses of power seem futile. The importance of truth is constantly undermined and attacked. And it’s likely your rent went up. On top of all of that, many of you are en route to a Thanksgiving with an unruly MAGA cousin who calls you a cuck or uncle who mansplains that climate change is caused by homeless people.
But fear not, there is a way to endure. Here are five tips to get through the holiday.
- Let Go of Your Anger
Thanksgiving is not the venue to express your outrage. Nor is it appropriate to unload on a relative who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. It is not a time to blame them for the chaos that has ensued over the past three years.
Attempting to project your vexation on a family member is counterproductive. From a high level, misplaced anger is an attempt to recover from scars by opening new wounds. It won’t change anything and it’ll only do more harm.
In this case, your rage only affirms your relative’s belief that progressives are wusses who won’t accept the outcome of the election and are unable to deal with their emotions. It only emboldens them to lean into their support of this administration. It justifies shutting you off from any reasonable conversation about the political state of affairs. It won’t change the fact that HRC never went to Wisconsin.
2. Let Go of Your Presumptions
A common activity among liberals is to assume that those who disagree with them are uninformed or apathetic to current events. There’s also a popular misconception that conservative voters don’t know the impact of their decisions.
As someone who’s traveled over the past three years speaking with hundreds of Trump voters, I’ve found these assumptions to be unsubstantiated. His supporters are quite aware of his actions. They simply don’t care. POTUS’s backers acknowledge his lack of statesmanship and unseemly behavior, but it’s just background noise to them. They are not oblivious of the consequences of having him in power. They are simply motivated by other values and goals.
It would be worthwhile to take the time to understand their guiding principles. There is deeper thought to their actions. They are likely up to date with the news and understand the broader ramifications of his policies. Despite your justifiable differences, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from them or enjoy your time with them.
3. Let Go of Your Binary Thinking
Our political climate encourages bifurcating society: good v. evil, intelligent v. dumb, thoughtful v. selfish, interesting and dynamic people v. Seattle residents. Liberals have played their part in making character a zero sum proposition.
I urge those who indulge into this binary thinking to stop. Don’t miss out on the multi-dimensionality of your relatives. It only makes you look small. Make an effort to have a three-dimensional conversation. Dig into your relatives’ past. Hear about their present. Ask them about their future. Probe into what interests them. Listen more than you speak.
4. Let Go of Your Elitism
I usually resist labeling liberals elitist, because I have found that claim to (mostly) be unfounded and unfair. The stereotype of liberals obnoxiously regaling one another about their international jaunts or patroning an elusive cocktail joint is an antiquated or incorrect misperception.
What is alive and well is a heightened sense of arrogance when progressives interact with their conservative counterparts. Materialistic or lifestyle patronization has been replaced with information-based condescension. The idea that profound insights and sources of wisdom are exclusive solely to the liberal diaspora is a common talking point I hear in every big city – the belief that only we are privy to podcasts, New York-based magazines, or contrarian online culture commentators.
Drop this intellectual haughtiness. In the digital age, knowledge is ubiquitous; you aren’t the only one who’s seen that John Oliver clip or read Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book. Just because you learned what a tariff is doesn’t mean that soybean farmers didn’t know that. Further, being attuned to a source does not necessarily mean you’ve captured or embody the wisdom laid out in a news outlet. No matter how well read and researched you are everyone’s experience provides them a glimpse into some realm of society that you are blind to. There are always avenues to learn.
5. Let Go of Your Political Identity
I am a proud liberal. I take pride in having donated, marched, and volunteered for various liberal causes. Like any good liberal, I buy a recyclable copy of all the books on Barack Obama’s reading list and follow Michelle Obama’s arm workout.
But my politics don’t define me. My progressive lens is not my cultural, global, and social lens. Politics is an extension of your morals and and a platform to contextualize the matters of the day. That doesn’t mean it is your only way of navigating through this world. It should not be your single source of deciphering or understanding what’s up and down. Or how you choose to treat people. Liberal or conversative, politics doesn’t encapsulate the totality of one’s character or worth.
Now matter how much you cling to your political DNA, it has constraints. It has a narrow social currency. Your political identity will not be there when you’re sick. It will not cheer you on in success or support you in defeat. Your family will. The causes you fight for and problems you’re passionate about will always be there (even after Trump). Your family won’t.
So liberals please, don’t fuck up Thanksgiving like you fucked up Brooklyn. Let’s face it. The year ahead will be more challenging and emotionally exhausting. In the long run, your animus isn’t worth it. It behooves us to not only make the best of any situation, but to make it better. I assure you those across the aisle are not as unreachable as you think they are. If you extend the dignity you feel is lacking in the status quo, I promise your time this holiday season will be far more enjoyable.
Also published on Medium.