Whether people like it or not, politics is as important a part of Thanksgiving as the mashed potatoes and gravy. But considering our charged political environment, what is the best way to approach the topic this year?

Some claim that Democrats are obligated to challenge Republicans with the GOP’s many, many controversies. Others advise just avoiding any and all talk of politics lest someone ends up wearing the turkey instead of eating it.

Both approaches see political discourse as inherently uncomfortable, differing only on whether said discomfort should be avoided or weaponized. To me, though, it’s an opportunity to learn.

My fiancee is more liberal than I am. My father, more conservative. The rest of my family is a veritable kaleidoscope of political orientations. By discussing President Trump, and politics more generally, we get to peek at the entrenched emotional and moral sentiments anchoring our opinions. We get to hear the reasons that people have for their (dis)agreement and test their consistency while scarfing down buttered croissants. And after having our beliefs go through the same gamut, we often come to the sobering realization that our ideology of choice may not be infallible. It’s a slice of humble pie to go alongside the apple.

To insulate ourselves from this necessary conclusion by only talking when the topic’s easy or when it’s uncontroversial may be the comfortable route, but it’s far from the correct one.

One of the things I am always thankful for is the intelligence of my interlocutors and the cogency of their objections. I am so grateful to have people in my life who are unafraid to disagree with me, to force me to critically explore my own positions, and understand the earnest, genuine roots of theirs. In a country where more people refuse to literally break bread with someone of another party, I am grateful to live in a bubble where honest conversation can happen without the end-goal being the accumulation of facile political points.

It is a bubble whose boundaries I hope to extend to you all through this column. Which is yet another thing that I am thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving. And happy conversing.

SOURCEPhoto: theodysseyonline.com
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Peter Licari
Peter is a PhD student in American Politics and Political Methodology at the University of Florida studying political behavior, elections, and polling. He identifies as an ideological moderate and a center-left Republican. While he departs from the party line on a handful of salient issues (Gay Marriage, Climate Change, and Abortion), he tends to identify strongly with many of the party's core values including equality of opportunity, empowering individual liberty, the importance of state and local governance, and the power of a fair market. He firmly believes in the necessity of limited government intervention on those issues enumerated by the constitution and by legal precedent but is leery at expansion beyond that sphere. He also blogs at www.awildpoliticalnerd.com and doodles web-comics at www.p05comics.tumblr.com. What little spare time remains is dedicated to long-distance running, reading, playing video games with his ever-patient fiancee, Stephanie, and to oddly productive one-sided conversations with his cat, Asia.