How to Talk Politics at Christmas

There’s no use in avoiding politics this holiday season. You’ll try hard, but current events will slide into your conversation when you least expect, probably when people run out of things to brag about. Relax, the alternatives include awkward silence and recipe swaps. In a pinch, you can shame that cousin who got married at seventeen. Faced with those choices, though, I’d rather see someone lose an eye over foreign policy.

My advice: Pretend you’re a Trump supporter. Sure, the idea’s funny, but I’m not kidding.

Buy a flask, and steel yourself. I acquired a holiday bedazzled one especially for my trip home.

Show up to Christmas dinner a little toasted, and improvise. I understand your hesitation, but don’t worry! Odds are, you know more about G.O.P ideology than they do. Just point out the recent policy proposals to your clueless neo-con relatives, and explain why they’re so great. Easy.

Let’s face it. You’re not going to change their minds with logic, so try to have some fun. No doubt you have some uncles and aunts, maybe even parents or grandparents, who voted for that pussy grabbing fascist. You’re in a tough spot. One the one hand, you want everyone to enjoy a peaceful holiday meal. You want everyone to have fun opening presents. Family selfies. Disney movies. Little fucking toddlers running around.

My boyfriend’s family is huge, and all of them voted Trump. Honestly, I don’t know how else I’m going to survive except drunk. Grandma’s house is way the hell out in the woods. We can’t even get a decent data signal. That means I have to talk.

“Grandma’s house is way the hell out in the woods. We can’t even get a decent data signal. That means I have to talk.”

The family treats me nice, but they’re really stupid. Alcohol kills just enough brain cells to make them tolerable. Of course, I can’t drink in plain sight. We young progressive millennials of the family sneak in our booze. My sister-in-law (she’s a real-life witch) brings a sippy cup full of flavored vodka.

On the other hand, I’m wondering if I can survive five or six hours having to swallow my indignation at every ignorant, uneducated remark about healthcare, abortion, social security, or the minimum wage.

Sigh. Two bedazzled flasks this year.

How this family produced such a handsome, intelligent, and compassionate guy is one of the universe’s many mysteries.

Yeah, his family is never fun. So I’m going to play it like this: I’m going to tell my in-laws that Trump has impressed me so much since election day that I’ve become a Republican. I’m going to outwardly support every cabinet position he’s made so far. I’m going to make such pro-Trump statements at dinner that it makes my intolerant cousins and grandparents uncomfortable. Here are some examples, arranged by topic:

Education: If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that education is clearly overrated. You don’t need to be educated to succeed in America, just really fucking mean and selfish. We have too many colleges, btw. Let’s shut down about 20 percent of them and redirect those tax dollars to private and for-profits. Sure, that might temporarily put me out of a job. Honestly, I was just killing time being a professor. I’ve turned down offers from lots of firms and companies. Trump has actually done me a big favor by forcing me to realize how I’m wasting my life behind a lectern. Frankly, if you can’t get into Yale, or at least Duke, then there’s no point in going to college anyway. Just get a job at a gas station, or a Hardees.

Labor: The minimum wage is such a rip off. What’s easier than flipping burgers and cleaning hotel rooms? Just let companies pay whatever they want. Someone will fill those jobs, as long as it’s not immigrants because we don’t want those anymore. Give those shit jobs to the poor white people who didn’t get into Duke. They’ll be so grateful. Let’s also stop arguing over regulations. It’s a dog eat dog world. If you’re dumb enough to accept predatory loans from banks, you should pay for them. Smart people know how to take advantage of the uneducated masses, so they deserve the greatest rewards. Why work as hard as a janitor if you’re clever enough to dodge all the laws?

Medicare: Look, I know you’re my fiancé’s dad and that you’ve suffered some health problems. I’m sorry you ate so much bacon and wound up having open heart surgery last year, and that now you have to take expensive medication. I’m also sorry about your joint problems. I really hope you don’t need surgery on those any time soon. But, hey, why should I have to pay for that? I’m young. I work out a lot. I eat very healthy, like hummus and organic chicken wraps and shit, and I come from good genetic stock. Don’t burden millennials with your poor choices.

Social Security: I think cutting social security is a great idea. I’m tired of supporting old people who didn’t save enough to retire on their own. Why should they be living off my tax dollars? I’m 30 years old, and I’ve already paid thousands in social security. I’ve worked since I was sixteen to support grandma over here. I think the government should just kill the whole program. Let me invest that money in my 401K.

There’s a small point to my plan. Maybe if I adopt a cruel enough stance, then I’ll shock some sense into my uniformed relatives. I’m always so articulate and careful with them. At times, I’ve managed to explain some sensitive subjects in ways that they almost understood. However, I was clearly kidding myself. At the end of the day, my extended family voted like your extended family probably did. They ignored real facts and analysis that would’ve prompted them to wrestle with their narrow worldviews. Instead, they took the route of the intellectual coward. They retreated to the same tired platitudes the G.O.P has spouted since the 1980s. Fiscal conservativism, moral high grounds, entrepreneurship.

“My relatives chose to support the bull in the china shop, and now they want a peaceful Christmas.”

My relatives chose to support the bull in the china shop, and now they want a peaceful Christmas. They want to elect a hateful racist con artist, and then still enjoy a warm holiday meal with their daughter-in-law, who might lose her job when our conservative leaders finish defunding higher education. They want to buy me 14k gold necklaces one minute, and then basically tell me they’d rather see me die in childbirth than allow a medical exception for abortion. They want me to give them a grandson, but they don’t support EPA regulations that will make his life worth a damn.

The worst part? They have no idea what they’re doing to us. They don’t keep up with the news. They don’t bother to understand how their vote affects us. They seem to think elections are a board game.

You know what I hear from half the people who voted for Trump? Give him a chance. If he tries anything really crazy, the sane people will stop him. That’s right. The sane people. By that, they mean moderates and progressives. They’re depending on the very people they voted against to stop Trump from ruining the country. My family members don’t like to admit it, but they secretly see us young people as the harbingers of progress, the ones advocating for tolerance, diversity, and education. We do that, so they can afford the luxury of voting “their hearts” or whatever. They can vote based on a single issue like abortion to assuage their own conscience, because part of them relies on people like me to stop them from actually getting what they want.

Well, it didn’t work this time. And I’m tired of always being the reasonable, restrained one. What will my family think at the sight of their once articulate, thoughtful daughter-in-law spouting even worse neo-con rhetoric than they do? I hope it horrifies them. If I had one Christmas wish, it would be for our parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles to wake up and realize what they’ve gotten us into.


Featured image by Richard Elzey via Flickr.