Families don’t always agree on everything, like where the summer vacation should be or what to have for dinner. However, some disagreements can cause a family to break apart. As republican and democrat ideologies grow increasingly incompatible, many people are seeing that politics can not only divide a nation but divide a family.
For some, civility within the family means avoiding politics altogether. Fears that conversations about politics could lead to anger or alienation from one’s family outway any good those conversations could bring.
Daniel Mittelstein, a college student and democrat with many close republican relatives, says it’s hard to bring up politics with his family.
“I feel it’s entirely pointless to bring up politics with my family because they all believe in conspiracy theories. They all live in more wealthy areas and feel that lower tax rates are more important than human rights.” Mittelstein said, “I’m always told that because I’m young I don’t understand or that I will see their way of thinking when I’m older.”
Still, others feel that it is important to have political conversations even though there could be a backlash. These conversations can lead to a better understanding of one another as well as a chance to learn
Emily Sanders grew up in a conservative family but since starting college has registered as a libertarian. Sanders feels that she has to bring up politics with her family to help create change.
“My family is not open-minded, they have a lot of hard-set religious values that guide their political values, it’s become important to me to see changes in society that I think are needed than to avoid making my family mad.” Sanders said, “I think it’s more important to have conversations with each other because it’s the only way we’re going to figure out how to solve problems.”
Jennifer Sanderson, a democrat living in one of California’s reddest counties, says while it may be frustrating it is important to attempt to bridge the political gap.
“ It’s just as easy to fall into left thinking blindness as it is into right thinking blindness. It’s not about intelligence most of the time, it’s about balance.” Sanderson said, “I’m really trying to work on embracing more than one point of view and to try to understand why people passionately support Republican politicians.”
Rising political tensions have led to a massive change in family dynamics for millions of Americans. Different age groups have often been known to have vastly different political beliefs leading to strife between the older and younger generations. It can be hard to know if bringing up politics with family members is going to be a positive learning experience or lead to animosity but as we head into a new year with a new president we can only hope that the division between Americans begins to fade.
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