Don’t Bother Arguing With Your Conservative Relatives

This Thanksgiving, invest time into mobilizing your like-minded family members instead

Aaron Huertas
GEN
Published in
4 min readNov 24, 2019

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Photo: A.Y. Owen/Getty Images

EEach year, Beltway nerds like me write extremely earnest essays about how to talk to your relatives who disagree with you about politics over Thanksgiving. In fact, I’ve written guides like this for climate change. But our political and media environment has changed a lot over the past several years, so my advice has changed, too.

Don’t waste time trying to convert your conservative Uncle Bill

Let’s be real: You’re probably not going to change Uncle Bill’s mind. Even if you can get him to see your point in the moment, he’s going back to Fox News and his conservative Facebook groups. Even if you change his mind about an issue, there’s probably not much that he’s going to do about it. Is he politically active enough to donate, knock doors, and lobby his legislators? Probably not. Let him enjoy his turkey in peace and just shrug if he tries to start a political argument. Unless, of course, he’s being super bigoted. (See more on that below.)

Meanwhile, you might have liberal relatives who agree with you on politics but don’t know what else they can do to have an impact. Or you might have younger relatives who are just starting to engage politically. Fully three-fourths of American adults didn’t vote for Donald Trump in 2016 — so let’s focus on people like them instead. Here are a few ways to help:

  • Millions of young people will be voting for the first time in 2020. They can register and preregister now. Talk to your younger relatives about their voter registration status, check their records with them online, and get them registered. Bonus: If any of your relatives have moved recently, they probably need to reregister.
  • Recommend good books about politics. Candidate biographies are a good bet for family members who may have a candidate they’re interested in supporting. A personal favorite is Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone by Astra Taylor. It is the most interesting book about democracy I read in 2019.
  • Ask people what issues they care about, and get them a gift membership with a…

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Aaron Huertas
GEN
Writer for

Democracy is pretty cool. We should try it some time. Voting rights, science policy, political communication and grassroots activism.