For whatever reason, AKA plenty of reasons, you and your Republican uncle don’t see eye-to-eye. This is completely understandable, after all you’re not the biggest fan of MAGA soundbites and fringe conspiracy theories. However, once a year, despite your resistance, you’re forced to interact with said uncle, and that’s usually over Thanksgiving dinner.
Luckily, we here at the Texas Democratic Party have a few strategies to share with you, and none of them involve irreparably damaging your relationship with your family.
#1. Stay Cool
We’re reached a moment in politics that some might call unprecedented. It’s no secret that our country is divided, and with someone as divisive as Donald Trump in the White House, those ideological tensions continue to escalate. Despite the contentious nature of American politics today, it’s imperative when you’re reuniting with your uncle that you remain calm and respectful.
By staying collected, you’re engaging in a form of communication disarmament, and disallowing the other person from justifying their aggression. Let’s put this practice into play, shall we?
Let’s assume your uncle brings up your political views right off the bat. “Hey [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE], you still a know-nothing Democrat?” he might say. Rather than informing him of the dehumanizing and corrupt nature of the current administration, try changing the narrative using your inside voice. You could say, “Yes, I do believe in quality universal healthcare, equal rights, good neighborhood public schools, tuition-free college, and a fair shot for all. I also believe we could enjoy our cranberry sauce and talk instead about all these Texas cold fronts.”
This could go one of two ways: 1. Your uncle could agree and tell you about some weird weather-related story, like the time his rottweiler chewed holes in his Carhartt jacket, or 2. Your uncle could begin denying climate science.
In the second scenario, if you choose to engage, you could tell your Republican relative that climate change threatens our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures. Dear uncle, Texans deserve real solutions to environmental challenges facing us in the 21st century, not fear-mongering and fake science.
Whichever feels more comfortable.
#2. Find Common Ground
It may seem pretty difficult to find something you and your uncle share. After all, for those of us who are politically charged, our views are integral parts of our identities. However, there are a couple of topics that may foster healthy dialogue.
Television and/or movies that you’ve seen recently, given they’re not political, are also fair game. “Hey Uncle, have you seen A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood?” After all, there are few things less polarizing than Mr. Rogers. Needless to say, stay away from anything with subtitles and/or the vicious yet accurate portrayal of Vice President Dick Cheney in the Academy Award-winning film Vice.
Speaking of fostering healthy dialogue, why not bring up the healthcare crisis in the United States? You could remind your uncle of that time he got bit by a rabid dog and couldn’t afford to go to the doctor because he’s uninsured. Republicans have refused federal Medicaid expansion dollars and they have refused to address the healthcare coverage crisis in each of the past three legislative sessions. Texas Democrats believe that every Texan deserves affordable access to a doctor, no matter how much they make or where they’re from. Under universal healthcare, no rabid dog bite would have prevented your uncle from seeing a doctor and being able to afford it.
#3. People Love to Talk About Themselves
Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves, even if they’re not willing to admit it. If you’re unfortunately seated next to your uncle, which you can blame your parents for later, you have to strategize at least 30 minutes of conversation, and that’s if you don’t get a second plate.
Ask him about whatever characteristic you know he jumps at the opportunity to discuss. For example, it may be his new car or that neighbor that lets her dog go to the restroom in his yard. You could try, “Hey Uncle, whatever happened to that rottweiler you were street fighting?” Or more importantly, “Remember when it only cost you $2000 to get a college degree?”
Texas Democrats believe all Texans should have the opportunity to pursue affordable higher education or career training at public universities, community colleges, and technical schools. You could inform your uncle of the rising costs associated with pursuing a college degree, and ask him why he believes the low-cost opportunity afforded to him shouldn’t be available to everyone.
Whichever route you choose to take, he is your uncle, and chances are this isn’t the first time y’all have interacted. So dig deep into your memory vault and think of how you can maintain a healthy dialogue without it becoming contentious. Regardless of whether you follow all of the aforementioned tips, sooner or later, you’re probably going to find yourself face-to-face with a debate over the impeachment inquiry.
#4. The Impeachment Inquiry
Your uncle just can’t help himself. Although you’ve been respectful and even pretended to care about his interests, it’s likely that he just really wants to argue about the president.
Rather than randomly yelling out Donald Trump quotes, your uncle will probably bring up the impeachment inquiry, since that’s the headlining issue as of late. If all other plans fail, be sure that you enter the conversation with some key facts at the front of your mind. Let’s go ahead and fact-check some of the signature Republican arguments so you’re ready to combat whatever your uncle may throw at you, literally and figuratively.
- Republican Argument #1: “President Zelensky and President Trump both said there was no pressure on the call.”
Let’s start out by saying that just because Donald Trump tweets out something he claims to be fact, doesn’t make it true. In his first 869 days as president, the leader of the free world said 10,796 statements that were either lies or misleading statements. According to The Washington Post’s fact-checker, that’s approximately 12 lies a day.
Thus, should your uncle use the “they both said no pressure argument,” kindly remind him that Zelensky felt so much pressure from Trump that he was eventually willing to go on CNN to announce the investigations Trump wanted.
Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani knew Ukraine needed U.S. support and military aid since, without it, Ukranian lives would be at stake. This allowed them to engage in a pressure campaign that started well before and continued well after Trump’s call with Zelensky on July 25.
- Republican Argument #2: “The Ukrainian government was not aware of a hold on U.S. security assistance at the time of the July 25 call.”
Republicans have been using the aforementioned argument in hopes of disproving a quid-pro-quo. However, on November 20, Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Ukraine was aware the U.S. was withholding military aid the day of Zelensky’s call with President Trump.
Additionally, the Washington Post reported that “According to Catherine Croft, a Ukraine specialist at the State Department, the Ukrainians, ‘found out very early on’ that the funds had been frozen — a decision the Office of Management and Budget made and circulated to other government officials on July 18.”
When Republicans choose to rely solely on the White House’s own summary of President Trump’s call with President Zelensky, they’re being purposefully misleading and allowing partisanship to cloud their judgment as legislators elected to, among other things, keep checks on the executive branch.
- Republican Argument #3: “The aid to Ukraine was unfrozen before Zelensky ever made a public announcement about investigations into the Bidens.”
The hold on aid was lifted after President Trump and his henchman Rudy Giuliani politically pressured the new Ukrainian government. In fact, a bipartisan group of Senators wrote to Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to express concerns over the hold on Ukraine aid.
It’s also important to note, the freeze was lifted just days after Congress became aware of the whistleblower complaint. On September 9, ICIG Michael Atkinson alerted Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes to the existence of the whistleblower complaint. On September 10, Adam Schiff demanded acting DNI Joseph Maguire forward the whistleblower complaint as required by law. And just like that, on September 11, The White House lifted its hold on military aid to Ukraine.
#5. If All Else Fails
If there’s no end in sight, and your uncle won’t stop hitting you with the ole “fake news” narrative, keep your cool, go get a second helping of stuffing, and donate to the Texas Democratic Party on your uncle’s behalf. Without Texas, Trump can’t win in 2020, and the most effective vehicle for change is the ballot box.
From the Texas Democratic Party, we wish you and your uncle a Happy Thanksgiving.