Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to food, family, and togetherness. But a new study says our divisive political environment means we may actually be getting less of it this year. Researches out of UCLA and Washington State used cellphone data to show that families ended their Thanksgiving dinners early last year because of discussions over politics. Madison Egan, a student at Rock Valley College says this has happened to her. “Oh for sure, there have been many times that people have left because of it, where it’s just argumentative all night, and that’s not what thanksgiving is about.”
The study found that Democrats were five percent less likely than republicans to travel for thanksgiving in 2016 compared to the year before. While Republicans were more willing to travel, they were also more likely to leave earlier than usual. “On Thanksgiving it’s a big group of our family and they will talk about politics and it gets hectic, so you immediately want to leave the room. ”
Dr. George Hernandez, a psychology professor at Rock Valley College, says that while there was more division last year among families after the election, it’s something that is always there. “Politics is always been a hard topic but today just given the climate where everybody feels so strongly about their opinions especially political opinions it’s just making it more complex. ” Hernandez adds that these types of conversations can actually be a good thing. “It’s good to have discussions on topics that are controversial, because if your avoiding talking about those things, sometimes avoiding the conversation can present more problems down the road.”
So, if you’re headed into thanksgiving this year and know you’re likely to bump heads, Dr. Hernandez has some tips to navigate through the turkey talk. “The number one thing that we would say to people is be prepared to disagree. If you’re walking into the conversation with ‘I’m going to prove everybody I’m right and they’re wrong,’ that’s a recipe for disaster. You’re not convince anybody to change their opinion just because the turkey tastes good.”
You really can’t blame President Trump for this, because this has been going on for a while. You may remember back in 2015, the Democratic National Committee sent talking points to its supporters about how to talk to their republican family members about politics.