How To Talk To Trump-Supporting Relatives

by Cate Carrejo

The unfortunate outcome and timing of the presidential election means a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters will be sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner in a few weeks with their Donald Trump-supporting relatives. And talking to your relatives about Trump can be a really daunting prospect, and if you don't have the means or opportunity to go anywhere else for the holidays, you could be stuck in the middle of a really awkward situation. Everyone is entitled to express their political views, and if your relatives get to say their piece, you should too. Confronting your relatives about Trump is your right and responsibility as an American, because at the very least, political debate isn't always such a bad thing.

Assuming that your relatives aren't overtly racist (which may or may not actually be the case), you might still get in an argument over the racial politics of the Trump campaign. You can absolutely choose not to engage on this point, because it might not be worth the trouble. However, teasing out your family members' attitudes towards racial minorities could be important, because Trump campaign has exposed a lot of racial resentment. Trump's various comments about African-Americans, Muslims, Latinxs, and Native Americans throughout his campaign and previous public career can only be regarded as racist, and people who don't already understand that desperately need to. Here's a helpful guide to helping someone understand why Trump's remarks are racist without getting bogged down in whether he is racist himself.

Undoubtedly, you'll hear some vague reference to the alleged criminality of Clinton's emails, which will be one of the easiest points to refute. She was cleared of all wrongdoing by the FBI twice, and took responsibility for her actions, much more than Trump can say. Listen to this episode of This American Life, which breaks down the actual 247-page FBI report on the Clinton investigation and proves how impossible it would have been for her to be perpetrating any kind of scandal. Her biggest crime is being technologically illiterate, but it was definitely not enough of an excuse to elect Trump instead.

There's also the possibility, albeit unlikely since Trump has not shown himself to be a real conservative, that your family members will bring up their conservative values as justification for their support. While people are obviously allowed to believe what they want to, this is also a chance to advocate for acceptance, inclusivity, and compassion.

Most of all, try to stay calm and logical, and realize that not much is going to change in a day. But over time, positive discourse could make all of the difference.