Let’s Give Thanks: America Isn’t Quite As Partisan As You Think It Is

The long-awaited political event of the year has passed. You can almost hear America let out a sigh of relief. We get to enjoy our daily lives again without being bombarded by political ads. But not too fast—we’d be remiss if we don’t address the elephant in the room. Political ads may have stopped, but political polarization is here to stay. Anyone have any tips to get through the holidays this year with a political climate as contentious as this one? Asking for a friend…

This New York Times article, The Real Divide in America Is Between Political Junkies and Everyone Else, gives insight into the deeply entrenched division of beliefs. In recent history, our elected officials haven’t exactly been “reaching across the aisle,” and the idea of bipartisanship has all but disappeared. So, let’s turn to the electorate and examine the ideals on a more granular level that put our officials in office.

The article explains that while there are segments of each party that are highly active and engaged, they are in the minority. When voters are asked for their positions on key issues, those positions often don’t match what we’d expect based on their party affiliation. Furthermore, when polled, more moderate members of both parties raise issues that aren’t even on the radar of highly engaged members. The media predominantly highlight each party’s loudest voices, so it’s important to keep in mind that a significant swath of American voters isn’t typically reflected in news coverage. Extreme headlines and tweets may get more clicks, but their views aren’t representative of the general population.

As for this year’s Thanksgiving, we recommend turkey, gravy, and a side of approved “table topics.” When something controversial rears its head, redirect the conversation back to a safe space, e.g., Netflix or football.