Miss Manners tells us never to discuss religion or politics in polite company. But when election season rolls around, often the raison d’ a party’s etre is that very taboo of topics. It can be great to get into healthy debates with pals, the key word here being healthy. If you’re watching the election tomorrow with a group, here are some tips to help you navigate potential presidential pitfalls and make sure everyone leaves the party as friends.
Dealing with your friend’s asshole pro-life (for example) boyfriend
Screaming “NO UTERUS, NO OPINION” and overturning a bucket of caramel corn on his head may SEEM like a good plan, but resist. Chances are he broached this subject, or whatever he knew would push your buttons, just to get a rise out of you (aren’t those guys THE BEST?) Don’t give him the satisfaction. Keep your head, and offer him a balanced but non-confrontational response, something like “There are a few scientific reasons why I disagree with your perspective, maybe we should talk about it one day. Please pass the pitcher of Rum-ney and Cokes.”
Dealing with your older sexist relative
You know the type: the uncle who finds your political involvement preciously twee, who never stops being amused by the fact that you’re getting an education to learn, not find a husband. How is this man trapped in 1948? It’s confusing for everyone. We recommend a taste of his own medicine. Respond to his antiquated views with the same condescending amusement. Don’t be rude, but be sure to hold your own and express how ludicrous you find his perspective. You’re not doing this guy any favours by pretending you feel cherished by his bullshit.
Dealing with know-it-alls
At every political-centred gathering, there’s bound to be one person who’s convinced they know more than everyone else because they’re louder. These arguments are the ones where it’s most important not to lose your head, or your temper. Keep your voice and demeanour calm as you cooly defeat their bravado with FACTS.
Know Your Stuff
Nothing is worse than trying to argue something you’re passionate about with a booze-addled brain that can’t keep the numbers straight. If you’re excited to flex your debate muscles on election night, and you know there are going to be some excellent opponents in the mix, spend a few minutes getting your facts down. No, it’s not weird to approach a casual social gathering with your friends like a 12th grade debate. (Okay, maybe it is, but as long as you bring the spicy nacho dip, who cares?)
Dealing with intense disagreements
Elections, even when they’re taking place in another country, tend to bring up subjects that run to the core of people’s beliefs, and that means things can get heated. Try to remember that everyone’s opinion has value, unless they’re stating it just to goad someone else. Help create an environment where no one feels victimized for their beliefs, and everyone understands that you’re there to have fun and enjoy themed snacks, not tear other people down for their opinions. If things get too out of hand, be the one to say “Guys, if we can’t talk about this rationally, let’s drop it.” Debate is awesome, but not when it results in personal attacks and tears in your guacamole.
Embrace the race
One of the best things about political parties (not political parties, but political parties…you know) is that they’re a catalyst for interesting conversations. Don’t freak out if things get a bit heated: embrace the discourse, as long as no one’s getting hurt, and everyone is being heard.
Alright, go forth and enjoy this tiny slice of history. And since it’s an American election, steal ideas from our old Superbowl menu for your potluck.
~ Haley Cullingham, image c/o lucilleandmitt.tumblr.com