If this is the first time you’re seeing your loved ones for the holiday season since COVID started, you might be out of practice for navigating tough (and sometimes awkward) political convos. That’s why we’re bringing you ideas on how to deal with them. Plus, we’ve got some of the biggest headlines of 2021 and resources to help you learn more, just in case they come up.
No matter what side of the political aisle you lean, here are some tips that experts say will help keep things calm, cool, and collected.
Stay civil. Experts say to remember that first and foremost, you’re talking to people who you love and care about. Whether or not you see eye-to-eye. If neither of you agrees or wants to talk about a topic, respect that. Being aggressive or pushing someone over the edge can create more tension.
Do your homework. Grandma might have a reputation for bringing up a touchy political topic. Some experts say that if you want to engage, consider doing some research in advance. (We’ve got more on this below.) Also helpful: having other topics of conversation in mind, in case you want to change the subject.
Set boundaries. The holidays are a time to unwind and relax. Experts suggest ground rules for your guests — and yourself. Whether that’s designating a room where it’s OK to talk politics, or deciding which topics will be off-limits.
Talk, don’t debate. Multiple experts say going into the conversation with the intent of winning an argument isn’t very effective. Instead, go in with the mindset of hearing someone out, learning from their point of view, and shining a light on why you feel a certain way.
Say “I” statements. Aka don’t turn your opinions into facts. Dan Harris, former ABC News anchor and author and co-founder of Ten Percent Happier, says these types of statements may help you get your point across better. One example: “I feel that [this politician] is horrible and greedy” versus “[This politician] is horrible and greedy.”
Ask open-ended questions. Surprise: People love to talk about themselves and their opinions. Asking someone a question without judgment or assumption may help them express themselves more freely, according to an opinion piece from The New York Times. One example: “[This topic] has been all over social media lately. What do you think about it?” versus “I hate how [this topic] is all over social media. Don’t you agree?”
Psst...Click here to practice talking to a family member who's on the other side of the political line.
A lot of hot-button issues have been in the headlines this year. So here’s what you might hear about while you’re passing the potatoes.
Abortion. A major buzzword over the past few months. That’s because Texas passed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. It bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. And allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and others for violating the law. The Supreme Court is weighing in on the Lone Star state’s law – and will also take up another abortion case out of Mississippi this term. Check out our articles on the legal battles around abortion and everything to know about the procedure.
Capitol riots. Jan 6 marks the one-year anniversary since pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol. Since then, Congress has been saying ‘you get a subpoena, you get a subpoena’ to a number of Trump associates. Including Steve Bannon, who was indicted for two counts of contempt of Congress in November. We’ve been tracking what else has happened in the aftermath of that day, from arrests to congressional action.
Climate change. Over the summer, the UN released an alarming report on climate change. It was described as a “code red for humanity.” Some of the findings include: that some changes are “irreversible” (example: rising sea levels) — and extreme weather is here to stay. Here’s your Skimm on the importance of the report. And if COP26 (the annual UN climate change conference) comes up, we explain what went down. Plus, if you want to know how climate change affects your wallet and health, learn about it here and here.
COVID-19 vaccines. More than 195 million Americans are fully vaxxed. But that means more than one-third of the population...isn't. And health officials are urging people to get booster shots. Especially ahead of the holiday season, which could help cause a winter surge in cases. We Skimm’d what you need to know about that here. We’ve also got As to your Qs on the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy.
Infrastructure. Typically a snooze of a topic. But not this year. After months of negotiations, Congress passed and President Biden signed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in November. We explained what’s in the law and why it matters here. Plus, we talked to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about what it means for millennials.
The midterms. We don’t know about you, but we’re feeling 2022. And your holiday guests might be too. Here are some races to keep an eye on. Since the presidential election last year, many states have intro’d or passed legislation to both restrict and expand voting rights. Check out our article on where things stand with these bills.
Race. A major topic of conversation since George Floyd’s death in May 2020. And it’s been taking shape in two courtrooms. The first is in the trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s killing, where three men are on trial for allegedly murdering him in Feb 2020. The second is Kyle Rittenhouse’s case. He was just acquitted of all charges after killing two people and injuring a third during a BLM protest last year following the shooting of Jacob Blake. Check out our explainer on systemic racism in the US. And learn how you can be an ally in the fight against racism.
Return-to-office. After almost two years of WFH life, many employees are returning to or have returned to the office. And there’s been a lot of debate about what’s the best way to work IRL again. Think: Vaccine mandates for employees. Hybrid work models. And paid leave — which is also front-and-center in Congress’s efforts to pass a social spending package. Our CEOs and co-founders also shared why the US needs a paid leave program. #ShowUsYourLeave.
The White House. No matter what side of the political spectrum you fall on, presidents are typically divisive in one way or another. President Biden is wrapping up his first year in office. And we've been tracking how he's held up (or hasn't held up) with key campaign promises. Check it out.
The holidays are meant to be a special time with family and friends. But given the political climate in our country, conversations around politics can creep in and ruin those moments. So it’s best to know how to navigate them if they come up. And to keep your mental health in check.
Skimm'd by Maria McCallen and Kamini Ramdeen-Chowdhury
Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter.
Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but can be the hardest on your mental health. Hear from a psychologist on how to get ahead of your holiday stress.
‘Tis the season to get updated on the CDC’s guidelines so you can stay safe. And keep your family and friends safe too.
COP26 is the 2021 UN climate change conference. And its goal is to get the nearly 200 countries attending to agree on how to battle climate change. But these promises haven't been easy to keep. Here's what you can expect.