After the after-dinner fights on the last day of Thanksgiving, marked by the election victory of Donald Trump, families have agreed this year to leave the politics off the menu: not talking about the issue or not meeting to avoid disappointment.
Every fourth Thursday of November, Americans travel the length and breadth of the country, crowding roads and airports, to dine with their relatives in what is the most important family event of the year.
For many, that means sharing a long meal with uncles, cousins or nephews to whom they are joined by little more than the family bond and who clash head on political and social issues.
That deep ideological division worsened last year, in a traumatic “Thanksgiving” two weeks after Trump’s victory against Hillary Clinton and after one of the toughest electoral campaigns in the history of the country.
So this year, according to a survey released this week by the public media NPR and PBS, 58 percent of Americans are afraid to have to talk about politics at the Thanksgiving dinner and only 31% feel like it. The remaining 11% say they are not sure about it.
Last year, according to a CNN poll, 53% dreaded having to argue about the elections but 43% wanted to have a debate about roast turkey and cranberry sauce.
“In 2016 it was already unbearable for me to have to listen to my uncles happy for Trump’s victory, and this year I could not stand to hear how they defend the policies he has adopted in the White House against immigrants and women,” explains Efe Sarah. Gilmer, who for the first time will spend the day with friends in New York instead of traveling to Indianapolis.
This young professional, like many Americans who study or work many kilometers from her hometown, has a political and social vision diametrically opposed to that of her family members.
“The people you work with and socially tend to share your political opinions, but when you meet with your family, if the policy is in the recipe, you may not know very well,” says Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute of Public Opinion, which participated in the NPR / PBS survey.
“There is a feeling of fear, the anticipation of a certain indigestion in Thanksgiving if the issue of politics comes up,” he adds.
That fear is greater among Democrats, two thirds do not even want to talk about politics with their families, while among Republicans are around half those who swallow when thinking about the after-dinner debate.
Those who define themselves as “independent” of the two major parties are not for the work: 56% feel panic about having to deal with the opinions of their relatives.
Of all the political and social issues, what most anguishes Americans is having to debate President Trump.
47% of respondents consider it “stressful and frustrating” to talk to people who have a different opinion about Trump, according to the NPR / PBS survey. A June survey by the Pew Research Center raised that percentage to 59%.
Since its emergence in the Republican primary in 2015, the controversial tycoon and the issues he has waved as flags have been a source of division and polarization in the country.
“I can not stand that someone, today, after seeing horrible measures such as the immigration veto or their irresponsibility with North Korea, defend Trump,” says Efe Ashley King, who has agreed with her mother-in-law not to speak of this topic on the table to have a “Thanksgiving” in peace.
Neither those who are in favor of the president want to hear opinions different from theirs.
“My son has been brainwashed in college, I can not hear him say so many lies about our president, it’s all the fault of the media campaign against Trump,” says Efe María Gómez, a Cuban exile in Miami with children born in the United States. UU
Everyone has already thought about strategies to avoid conflict: focus on the banquet, replace the after-dinner party with a football game or a movie on television or go shopping for a “Black Friday” (discounts) that every year begins earlier.