It's no wonder why Americans now routinely use terms like “national divorce” and “civil war” when we can't get through a family get-together without saying something politically incendiary. To avoid political screaming matches, know your loved ones' pain points and avoid bringing them up.
1. Why Don't You Pay Your Fair Share in Taxes?
Unless your conservative friend rakes in millions per year, they're likely paying their fair share. The truth is that most Americans pay plenty in taxes, regardless of political persuasion.
Save the “tax the rich” rhetoric for those who own Amazon, Microsoft, and seats in Congress.
2. Joe Biden Won Fair and Square
The security of American elections will likely be a hotly contested discussion for the foreseeable future. Until an asteroid hits, countless Democrats will say Donald Trump entered office riding a red wave, just as many Republicans will never believe that Joe Biden received more legitimate votes than Barack Obama. It's best to avoid the verbal tug-of-war altogether.
3. The 2nd Amendment Is Open to Interpretation
Category: Things You'd Have to Be Dense to Say Around a Republican
Question (for $200): This topic has sparked physical altercations among otherwise friendly Americans for decades.
Answer: “What is the 2nd Amendment?”
4. Isn't Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the Best?
One of the few things that could make this statement even more explosive: Say “Alexandria” and “Cortez” with a heavy tongue roll. If you're looking for a hostile reaction from your Republican mates, praise the name of the former bartender from New York's 14th Congressional District.
5. Watch This CNN Segment With Me
A Republican will never be caught watching CNN, just as a Democrat avoids Fox News like the plague. Rational beings can admit these are partisan networks pandering to their loyal audiences. Stop trying to make Poppy Harlow happen. It's not going to happen.
6. I'm a Card-Carrying Socialist, Dad
It's a cliche dating back to Harvard's opening in 1636: a young adult raised in a conservative household goes to college, reads Karl Marx, and takes a 100-level Sociology course. Young adult returns home to inform parents that their worldview is an abomination.
Even if you have more diplomacy about it, avoid conversations involving the term “oppressor.”
7. Gender Exists on a Spectrum
While older Americans probably never thought gender would be up for debate, it is. The issue of gender (and related topics) is a hot-button issue. As your mother taught you, don't touch the pot when it's on the stove.
8. You're in a Cult
Here's a slogan: Make Political Discourse Civil Again.
That means refraining from equating someone to a Branch Davidian or Manson Family member because they disagree with you politically. Now, if your Republican friend or family member also happens to be in an actual cult (like a multi-level marketing scheme), feel free to say something.
9. Christopher Columbus Committed Genocide
This rule holds particularly true if you are part of an Italian family. Rather than getting into a heated debate about the nature of exploration or 15th-century warfare, watch Season 4, Episode 2 of The Sopranos, and share a laugh.
10. Check Your Privilege
The debate about “privilege” — what is it, who has it, where one can get it — is a box even Pandora would steer clear of. There are enough legitimate arguments on each side of this debate that you're bound to end up at the same spot you started, but not before screaming, insulting, and ruining dinner.
11. You're Part of the Patriarchy
If you're talking to your father, you'd be technically correct. However, everyone knows that “patriarchy” carries a negative connotation. Not only do you risk offending, but you also risk being banished from the supposed patriarchy-supporter's home. You should think especially hard about this term if you are financially dependent on this alleged member of the patriarchy.
Republicans take the P-word as an insult, so use it sparingly (if at all) in their presence.
12. It's Just a Clump of Cells
Sensitive conversations invoke immediate and intense emotions, which tops the list. More than one's political persuasion, financial status, or choices in the bedroom, one's views on conception and life are often the most dearly held. Pretend this conversation is the iceberg, and you're the captain of the Titanic.
13. Climate Change Is Real (And a Real Threat to the Planet)
You can believe deep in your loins that your exhaust pipe emissions are strengthening hurricanes. Most people agree that dumping forever chemicals in drinking water supplies and filling the ocean with plastic is a disgrace. When measuring human behavior's direct effect on the environment, though, there remains plenty of room for debate.
The question is, do you want to have that debate over eggnog and spiral ham? The kids just finished opening presents. Why are we talking about An Inconvenient Truth?
14. Donald Trump Will Never Be President Again
If Americans should know one lesson well, it's “never say never.” Neither side can believe the other candidate made it to the Oval Office. If you care about being correct, refrain from making such absolute statements.
Bonus: You'll also avoid potentially hairy “debates” with Trump supporters in your family and friend group.
15. You Don't Care About (Insert Minority Group Here)
Generally, it's wise not to assign motives to those you care about. You might think someone's stance comes from a biased or callous viewpoint, but do you know?
Until you're 100% certain that someone is cold-hearted, it's best not to accuse them of having such fundamental character flaws.
16. You're Just Afraid of Change
Some people are afraid of change. However, many have legitimate reasons for valuing the status quo. If you want to change minds and win hearts, it's best to understand why your right-leaning compadres hold the views they do rather than merely calling them the old man (or woman) yelling at the clouds.
17. Trust the Science
Loaded statement much?
Few statements have garnered more resentment or sparked more arguments in the past three years than “trust the science.” There are far more nuanced, adult ways of explaining your point. Being trite is rarely right.
18. The Gender Pay Gap Is Real
Some say certain groups of people are intentionally paid less as a means of discrimination. Others say factors like motherhood, selective work hours, and varying experience make the “gender pay gap” an unreliable narrative.
Rather than indulging in this never-ending debate, can we agree that most Americans don't earn nearly as much as they should? When amongst those you're inclined to disagree with, choose the unifying narrative over the divisive one.
19. Let's Go Brandon!
Even if your son, Brandon, is playing soccer and could use a motivational word, never say, “Let's go, Brandon!” in front of a Republican friend or family member. There is a realistic possibility your right-leaning pal will join in the chant and never stop. It's best to avoid planting that seed.
20. Ronald Reagan Was Just a Dumb Actor
The man you see as the lead actor in Bedtime for Bonzo is also a revered conservative icon. If you come at Ronald Reagan in any form or fashion, you better bring your rhetorical war chest. You're in for a Cold War-level knock-down, drag-out.
Given the liberty, conservatives of a certain age would include Ronald Reagan on Mount Rushmore without a second thought. Speak carefully when you speak of Ronnie.
21. Your Time Is Over
It's always regrettable when someone takes the “I'm young, you're old” tack during a political debate. Insinuating that the old guard is soon to meet their demise is just cruel, and the truth is that people of all ages hold conservative viewpoints (just as young people share the views of their older, left-leaning kinfolk).
While age can be relevant in a political debate, it's often immaterial to the facts.
22. Everyone Deserves a Shot at the American Dream, No Matter How They Entered the Country
If you feel the conversation moving towards the issue of immigration, do your best to shepherd it elsewhere. For the sake of peace, it's wise to force a conversational migration towards other topics. May I suggest the weather?
23. You Have Lost Touch
Conversations go south when you use someone's age or life experience against them. Suggesting that your conservative sparring partner is no longer cool, informed, or otherwise “in touch” feels like an ad hominem attack. Instead, phrases like “I don't know if you understand how many Americans are feeling” can be more effective.
24. You're a Bad Person
At the end of the day, you have a difference of opinion. In most cases, neither side has bad intentions or motives. Never venture into questioning someone's character. If you cannot understand that to disagree is human, you're not fit to discuss political topics in the first place.
25. A Socialist Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance
It's true, but repeating this one might not be wise. Francis Bellamy was a Christian Socialist who wrote “The Pledge of Allegiance” in 1892 as part of a marketing campaign. He did not include the nod to God in his pledge; “under God” was added in 1954.
26. Fox News Has Brainwashed You
No one likes to be told they're stupid or can't think for themselves, and that's precisely what this comment conveys. Avoid telling anyone they've been “brainwashed.”
27. You Must Be Against Women's Rights
Assuming that the person you're talking to doesn't support women's rights just because of their party affiliation is pretty presumptuous. Let's not paint everyone with such a broad brush.
28. The South Lost the Civil War, It's Time To Get Over It
Unless the person you're speaking with is waving a Confederate flag or has stated that they wish the South had won the war, it's probably not the best idea to wade into this territory over Sunday brunch.
29. You Must Be a Gun Nut
Gun control is a complicated issue and deserves careful consideration. Name-calling isn't going to change anyone's mind on the matter.