Taking a Day Off From Post-Election Tribalism

Thanksgiving 1900.JPG For many in the U.S., Thanksgiving 2016 is likely to be overshadowed by the recent presidential election. Some on the left who are largely over their disappointment and have managed to stop insulting Trump supporters on social media may soon find themselves sitting around the Thanksgiving table with relatives who voted for Trump. Some on the right who voted for Trump but were less than thrilled to do so may soon find themselves sitting around the Thanksgiving table with die-hard Clinton supporters who still think she should challenge the election results. The potential for conflict to ruin the day seems greater than usual for many families this year.

As nice as it might be for everyone to agree to take a break from post-election tribalism, this is probably unrealistic. Even if you are capable and willing to take such a break, there is no guarantee that every Thanksgiving guest will do so. And it is understandably difficult for you to be successful maintaining your break if someone else is in your face about it. At the same time, you are someone who claims to value reason. You might even be someone who claims to be a humanist or a freethinker. Perhaps Thanksgiving would be an opportunity to show others what these things mean by embodying them, even if it is only for one day.

On Friday, you can return to insulting everyone who dares to express political opinions that differ from your own if you must. But maybe the experience of taking a day off from post-election tribalism will feel better than you anticipate. You might find yourself realizing that insulting everyone who disagrees with you solves no problems but fuels many. Perhaps a Thanksgiving without political tribalism could even be an important step on a journey toward reason.

Of course, I recognize that not everyone reading this is celebrating Thanksgiving. You who are not celebrating can count me among you. I am trying a new recipe this year that does not include any of the ingredients associated with traditional Thanksgiving meals. While it cooks, I will be grading college papers with an eye on providing students with feedback about how they can communicate their ideas more effectively and improve their arguments through the application of reason and critical thinking. I realize this might not sound particularly festive, but it needs to be done.

Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving or not, I hope you enjoy your day and manage to be reasonable.