Conservatives must absolutely talk politics at the Thanksgiving table

Conservatives must absolutely talk politics at the Thanksgiving table
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Each year at this time, we fall prey to an assortment of opinions from our media overlords reminding us that we best not talk politics around the Thanksgiving dinner table, or at worst, “how to survive” if the topic is broached. Other articles give tips us how to politely offer alternative topics, while PoliticoNBCGQ, and even Bravo have decided Trump has already ruined your holiday.

But what do progressive media outlets have against us talking about the political issues that affect our families with… our actual families?

The answer is really quite simple. For most American kinfolk, this is the one time when they can collectively reflect on and be grateful for the values that have bonded their family for generations with their new crop of progressive prodigal sons and daughters. So of course, even Bernie Sanders is prepping his woke millennial acolytes for how to deal!


For all families, but especially conservative ones, Thanksgiving must be an opportunity to recalibrate those family members who are part of the generation who sought a return to the big coastal cities in search of work, or are currently residing in the bastion of American liberalism, the college campus. This may be your one chance to speak to them with home-field advantage, and outside of their liberal bubble.

This term — bubble — is not one that I and others have used in hyperbole; but rather, it truly represents the closed-off mindset of American progressivism in coastal cities and on college campuses. I speak to you as a firsthand witness of this phenomena, as an outspoken conservative in the largest liberal city in America: the home of AOC; the birthplace of Bernie; the one which actually elected Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioLawyer who inspired ABC's 'For Life' to run for mayor of New York Rockefeller Center Christmas tree viewing limited to 5 minutes The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread MORE into office.

If your wayward relative is one of my neighbors in New York City, a place where the labor movement is now seen as too centrist and where avowed Socialists are now a “political force,” do you really think they ever get to hear both sides? Of course not. On the coasts, once far-flung progressive interest groups are now directing policy, and rational thought and political balance are principles relegated to the occasional op-ed.

On campus, your relation may be in much more dire straits, having their minds shaped in the midst of the unparalleled and unmitigated rage of the American left, where “cancel culture” and groupthink overshadows academic debate. That’s a $41,000 bill for a degree in close-minded wokeness you’re paying for, mom and dad.

Fellow conservative, if you are concerned by this, and by the broader rise of the radical left, then by-God you must use this holiday for more than just gorging on Karen’s apple cobbler. You have your son, daughter, niece or nephew on our home turf and where they can’t be blinded: the family table. Make use of it!


Do not hesitate to retell the story of why you live where you live, especially if you’re one of millions of American families who have fled the hip high-taxed states for other parts of the country. Explain how this has bettered their lives.

Remind them about religion, and how religious institutions have been a positive force for change in our country since its inception. Perhaps they enjoyed playing for the St. Ignatius basketball team, or how mom relied on the J.C.C. afterschool program so she could work. Has their family benefitted from a religious organization?

Let them wow you with their talk of Socialism. Then confront them with the stark reality of why it scares you. Has a family member ever experienced it firsthand, or at least seen on television the devolution and poverty of the Soviet Union and other countries over the years?

Be open about your family’s past. Whether it immigrated like mine 100 years ago from the sulfur mines of Sicily to the subway tunnels of New York, or whether yours came like so many just years ago with nothing but the hope and promise of hard work, explain how your family made sacrifices and took risks.

Perhaps even recall how your household was once Democratic, and how membership in a union played a role in their success. But unmask the modern party and how they have abandoned the middle class for the fringe-left.

Talk about the law enforcement. Do they feel the same anti-police anger as many in their generation? Do they not recall the family members who wore a badge, or the friends they grew up with who became cops? Are those people really racists, or fascists, or whatever they tend to call them?

Do not hesitate to bring up Trump. Sure, they may hate him, but explain why your family may be better off. Explain what more money in the family bank account does for them, personally. Explain what the booming economy and job market has done for the hometown and the neighbors they once loved. Remind them how the retirement fund looks, and how there will be more for them some day in the future.

Prepare for some hurt feelings and rolling-eyes by the time the pumpkin pie is served. But on balance, we all must realize that these opportunities to confront those in our family who form the vanguard of the American left are few and far in between. If we don’t want to end up eating meatless turkey at some Thanksgiving in the future, now may be the time to serve up a hot plate of reality. 

Joseph Borelli is the minority whip of the New York City Council, Republican commentator, professor and Lindsay Fellow at the City University of New York's Institute for State and Local Governance.He served as co-chair of Donald Trump’s New York campaign. He has also been published in the NY Daily News, Washington Examiner, and appears on Fox News, Fox Business, BBC, CNN and HLN. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeBorelliNYC.