Your Drunk Uncle

How to talk to your drunk uncle about Trump this Thanksgiving

When politics and alcohol mix, the results can tear families and the country apart.

Learn to have conversations that create insights instead of food fights.

1. Find common ground

Bridging the divides in our families is the first step in keeping our country from being torn apart by politics. That doesn't mean agreeing on everything. Take a step back to remember the love and connection you share.

Remember what's good about your relative

  • I know you care about the community because of your volunteer work.
  • I respect how hard you work and I know it's a really tough job.
  • I'm so proud of you for your military service.

Acknowledge the divide and affirm family ties

  • You know I'm deeply concerned about what's going on in the country, but we're still family.
  • Even though we strongly disagree we shouldn't be torn apart. That's wrong.
  • I want to understand where you’re coming from, and for you to understand why this matters to me.

2. Cultivate self-reflection

When Trump comes up, rather than a fight breaking out, we can ask questions and recall history to help our loved ones think beyond the slogans.

Create stop and think moments

  • Do you remember a campaign ever being so dark, angry, and bizarre? Where do you think all that is coming from? Where is it taking us?
  • Did you hear about the new word of the year? It's "post-truth" because emotion is trumping facts in our politics. Do you think we can believe what feels good in our gut and ignore facts we don't like?
  • What do you think about the way Trump uses Twitter? What effect do you think Facebook had on the campaign? Are people checking the facts before sharing? Is it making polarization worse?

When talking Trump, stay cool to be heard

  • The Pope's endorsement of Trump turned out to be written by a guy who makes $10,000 a month posting fake news. Did anyone else hear that story?
  • Did you hear Trump asked the CEO of JP Morgan Chase to be Treasury Secretary? Does that sound like someone who's serious about draining the swamp?
  • What do you think FDR meant when he said: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself? What was Trump's message? What effects does fear have?

3. Tell a story to create insight

A crack in your loved one's certainty is an opportunity to tell a story that's fun and educational. This can get everyone to ask themselves, "Should I believe everything I think?" Stories convey ideas in ways that facts and figures can't. Telling the right story can help avoid a fight and get people to start thinking critically.

Freedom from Fear

  • Tell a story that recalls our history and reveals a contrast. FDR was disabled by polio but led America through WWII and the Great Depression. He created Social Security and told the American people: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Now we've elected a President who mocked a disabled reporter, leads a party that wants to dismantle Social Security and uses fear to divide people.

War of the Worlds

  • Tell the story of the "War of the Worlds." On Halloween Eve, 1938, Orson Welles put on a radio play about an invasion from Mars that thousands of people believed was real. Why did they believe? Welles heightened the drama by making the play sound like an unfolding newscast. Music was suddenly interrupted by 'urgent bulletins.' Actors played 'reporters,’ 'government officials' and 'scientists'. Dressing up a scary fictional story like news fooled a lot of people.

Ebola Panic

  • Tell a story about a past instance of fear-mongering. Ask if anyone present died from Ebola in 2014. The outbreak was something to be concerned about, but the media blew it out of proportion. Fox News, talk radio, and Trump said we would all die because of President Obama's failed response. But we're alive, stuffing ourselves on turkey instead. In reality, the government response worked. The virus was stopped in the U.S. with only three deaths and thousands of lives in West Africa were saved. Fox and Trump didn't retract their wrong statements - they moved on to the next fake story. We should be thankful our government saved so many lives.

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Hear Yourself Think is a 501(c)3 non-profit fighting against fake news and its harmful effects on the minds of American citizens. With a decade of experience knocking on 100,000 doors throughout the Rust Belt, the team at HYT has developed a proven methodology to help people break free from the fear-inducing narratives of Fox News and other right-wing media and to rebuild the habits of critical thinking that are the foundation of democracy itself.