Let’s talk politics!

My dad loved arguing about politics.

It was just what we did at our house. 

That and read. I saw him read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at least three times.  

And we looked up information. It seemed he sent one of us kids for a dictionary or encyclopedia more dinners than not.  

It wasn’t until my older brother got married that I realized other families were different. Jack’s wife would always get nervous when things got heated. Hearing one another out was our form of bonding.  

And it wasn’t just Dad. A nephew remembers my sister assigning each of her kids the side of an argument they were to take to make dinner interesting. 

So I really notice articles about how to avoid discussing politics at Thanksgiving dinner. I can’t remember talking politics then; my mom’s parents took any opposition seriously, and Dad and my brothers usually were deer hunting.

But I don’t think people discuss politics enough.  

When I was teaching at a Seattle-area school district, we lost an important levy and our union gave each member 10 names to call. We were to listen to voters’ concerns. 

At least three of my contacts changed their minds while they were talking. One started out complaining about middle school kids trampling her flowers. The words were hardly out of her mouth before she started apologizing for being silly and petty. She’d realized she had voted an emotion, not her values. 

Our views become clearer when we put them into words.

This year, for the first time, I saw an article saying it was time we spoke up to uncles who dominated table conversation with their views.

I could understand the author’s point. During the 1970s I learned to tell friends that I would not listen to racial slurs and suggest my husband call later if he needed a ride home.   

But relatives are different. Family takes sides. You can mess up a lot of relationships quickly. 

………… Available online …………

What would I do if an uncle started praising Trump this year?  I like to think I’d suggest we discuss it sometime when we wouldn’t be making others uncomfortable. 

I might, however, just spill gravy on my lap and ask to be excused.  

I’ve learned through experience not to suggest the speaker watches too much FOX news. My younger brother took that as a major insult–he did read widely. And a man at Caldwell Senior Center told me he didn’t watch TV news or read newspapers; he figured things out on his own.

I’m guessing his dad never sent him to get an encyclopedia during dinner.    

I suggest starting conversations about things you are curious about. Three years ago I had a good talk with a friend about why she supported Donald Trump. 

Today, I doubt I’d hear anything new.

What I’m curious about now is how Idaho farmers are doing. I’ve heard that prices haven’t dropped as much as was expected after China and other nations imposed tariffs.  Yet bankruptcies are up. Is any of the the $30 billion government giveaway reaching here? And is there a way to stop paving over farmland?  

And the job market.  Have opportunities here increased enough to keep up with the influx of people?  Are kids today finding work close to home?

And should we be breach dams to save fish after  they’ve survived this long?   

Ask about something you’ve read or heard. 

And listen. 

A few will pompously repeat what they’ve heard commentators say. 

Others will think–and share thoughts worth your time.  

Partisan insults

Years ago my brother Steve said he had no respect for Democrats because they said vile things about Laura Bush.

Well, I was hearing from a dozen or so Democratic-leaning organizations daily, and their only complaint about the First Lady was that she never voiced her own views.

Today we know that some bad actors masquerade as Democrats so Republicans can point fingers and energize their base. Admittedly, Daily KOS does insult the President and others have speculated about Melania’s “I really don’t care” jacket.  Few groups, however, risk repelling possible supporters. They offer real information about an issue or candidate and then request actions–sign, phone, or attend, followed by “donate” in big red letters.

So you can get the idea,  I’ve prepared an overview of last Thursday’s emails.

The most compelling–and negative–were pleas to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. The Ultraviolet Action Team, an advocacy group for women, focused on the dangers of overturning Roe vs. Wade.  An action group of the AFL-CIO stated that Kavanaugh “has routinely ruled against working families, dismissed employees’ right to health care and often sides with employers to refuse working people relief from workplace discrimination.”

And 96-year-old Norman Lear, producer of All in the Family and founder of People for the American Way, wrote, “This vote by 100 senators will impact each and every one of us directly. Countless aspects of our daily lives — health care, privacy, finances, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, consumer rights, gun control, the environment, and, among so much more, our very safety itself — will be profoundly affected by the outcome.”

Next most compelling were the pleas to support the National Disclose Act.  Soon after a check of the NRA’s tax filings revealed donations from Russians and to groups supporting Trump’s campaign, the Treasury Department exempted more organizations from revealing the source of donations. This brought opposition to “dark money” from Montana Senator Jon Tester, former Vice President Joe Biden, and RootsAction.org, “an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing people who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights for all, civil liberties, environmental protection–and defunding endless war.”

Five emails supported the candidacy of Stacey Abrams for governor of Georgia.  A former minority leader of the Georgia House, Abrams has attracted a lot of attention this summer as the first black woman nominated for governor by a major party. Interest grew higher last week after Georgia Republicans chose Brian Kemp as their nominee.  Kemp has promised to use his trusty pickup to personally round up criminal aliens and to make Georgia the most anti-abortion state in the union.

Those supporting Abrams included the Working Families Party, which originated in New York and now has an affiliate in Oregon; Democracy for America (Howard Dean); Our Revolution (Bernie Sanders’ supporters); Move On (founded  in 1999 to support Bill Clinton); and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.


Environmental organizations each championed different issues.  The World Wildlife Association pointed out that legal and illegal ivory sales both mean an elephant dies. The Sanders Institute (founded in 2017 by Bernie/s wife Mary Jane) reminded me that the harm of  of climate change is escalating. And Friends of the Earth revealed that a study has linked Monsanto’s Roundup to deaths of butterflies and bees–and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Even Daily Kos skipped the insults to oppose cuts to the nutrition assistance which provides one in four American children with “better long-term physical and behavioral outcomes and higher education achievement.”

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2018