Pundits share how to avoid political food fights this Thanksgiving
© iStock, The Hill illustration

This Thanksgiving, families might be passing the turkey, mashed potatoes and — whether they like it or not — a heaping side of politics.

ITK’s got you covered for the food-focused frenzy that might await partisan revelers and could gobble up discussions at the dinner table next Thursday. We spoke with political pundits about whether they’ll be talking impeachment and 2020 between bites of green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. We also asked them to share any wisdom about keeping the peace at Thanksgiving during emotionally charged political times.

For some of our D.C. insiders, the family dynamic might already be skewed toward avoiding political food fights.

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“Unless my precocious 4-year-old has some burning questions about what’s next in the impeachment hearings, my bet is we are more focused on the parade and the dog show, and I don’t anticipate it will be a topic at my Thanksgiving table,” Jen Psaki says. The former Obama White House communications director and CNN contributor says, like every family, “we have people of all political stripes and somehow my Trump-loving family members find a way to keep a lid on it at family gatherings.”

“That has probably been the saving grace,” Psaki says. But the former State Department spokeswoman says she has a game plan if things start to get messy: “I will be tapping into the calming power of a cocktail. I would advise others to do the same.”

Rather than boozy beverages, former Ohio state Senate Democratic Leader Capri Cafaro says she relies on the feast itself to help ease tensions.

“I am pretty outnumbered politically as a Democrat in a family of mostly Republicans, so our Thanksgiving table has the potential of turning into a debate stage instead of a warm gathering,” Cafaro admits. “This is why I put the focus on the food; it is a common denominator that brings us all together regardless of party affiliation.”

Cafaro, who’s working on a bipartisan cookbook filled with recipes from prominent Democrats and Republicans, says, “Dishes prepared year after year help spark memories that lead to positive conversations fueled by nostalgia rather than tense ones triggered by cable news.”

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This year’s chow-down festivities come at the same time that Democrats are pushing ahead with public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE’s dealings with Ukraine, and less than three months ahead of the first caucus vote in the 2020 presidential race.

Top GOP pollster Frank Luntz has a distinct way of saying “adios” to any political bickering on the gratefulness-filled holiday — although it might not exactly be practical for everyone.

“To avoid discussing politics this Thanksgiving, I’m jumping on a plane to Bogotá, Colombia,” Luntz tells ITK. “That way, if anyone does raise politics, they’ll do it in Spanish ... and I won’t understand a word.”

To that we say, brillante.

Gayle KingGayle KingWarren fends off questions on Sanders: 'I'm not going there' Flake: Republicans don't speak out against Trump 'because they want to keep their jobs' Lifetime to release sequel to 'Surviving R. Kelly' MORE says she worries that “we’re losing our moral compass,” encouraging family members on both sides of the aisle to “listen to each other” when it comes time to sit down for dinner.

“We’re all so siloed and we’re all so divisive, but at the end of the day, most people love their family members,” the Emmy Award-winning “CBS This Morning” co-host says.

“I just wish we could get to the point where we could agree to disagree without having to tear each other apart,” King adds.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he might put to use a suggestion he’s heard from countless pals about laying down some ground rules with your relatives.

“I’ve talked to more people who’ve said that they’ve actually sent around emails to family members saying that ‘As a result of the last two Thanksgiving gatherings, the only argument that will be accepted will be over the football game, who’s getting what for Christmas — but no politics.’ ”

“I think the first thing to do is remember: No matter how much you think your aunt or uncle are crazy, they think you’re just as crazy,” says Steele, an MSNBC political analyst and the former lieutenant governor of Maryland. Steele notes that the real hero in helping to avoid political battles at Thanksgiving may be the oven-roasted bird on the table.

“Keep a lot of turkey between you and them,” Steele advises for dealing with politically passionate Thanksgiving tablemates. “That way, at any moment when something outrageous is said, you can just grab a turkey leg, or wing, or a hunk of meat, stick it in your mouth, and you get past the moment.”