The problem with talking politics

Rachel Vogt, Staff Writer

Ooooo-weee, what an election, eh? Well, to be perfectly honest… I don’t know… and if I can tell you a secret… I don’t really care. For the past seemingly forever, I’ve been listening to political arguments, and I find most of them to be completely unbearable (keep in mind I work at a bar and blood alcohol content can explain a lot). Which is really too bad because politics are unfortunately the arena which we have to discuss and solve problems in our society.

So, what can we do to make the conversation with your crazy uncle a little less mind numbing at the Thanksgiving table? You know how it goes… nobody wants to talk politics, but three beers later and you can’t ask for the salt without conversation free-wheeling out of control to Donald Trump. Call me crazy, but I think listening to so many of these miserable discussions, I’ve formulated a few points that will make talking politics a little less unbearable (notice I said little).

1. View political conversations as exploratory conversations – not arguments. Try to discover and understand what is being said instead of winning or converting the other side. Seeking middle ground or discussing the problems is more entertaining anyways.

2. Assume the person with different opinions also has good intentions. Odds are, you aren’t arguing with a sociopathic lunatic, just someone with different life experiences than you. Those experiences give deeper glimpses into who they are as a person.

3. It’s okay to be wrong. If you change your mind based on new information, that’s strength, not weakness. Oftentimes, we get so caught up in our ideology, it becomes a part of our identity. At that point, do you hold your ideas, or are your ideas holding you back?

That’s it. Three little pointers which probably aren’t going to help you with your “Bud” heavily under the influence uncle, but they should help you with your friends. That’s who we need talk to about these things – they are the important issues of our time.

As much as it might suck, each generation is tasked with cleaning up the mistakes of those before us and to leave a little less mess as we pass it along to the next.

If we can make discussing politics a little more palatable, we will have a better shot at stopping this ridiculous partisan politics train on which we are all currently being held captive. We need to think through these ideas and problems, and thinking is best done through the exploration of conversation. Conversations, which I hope can bring us closer together instead of tearing us further apart.

With the vast supply of instant entertainment in our lives, it’s tempting to opt out of difficult conversations. Easy to find courage behind a keyboard, or parrot the words to say from a late night talk show host, instead of thinking. Do the difficult thing. Make political discussions a little less miserable.