November 20, 2017

Study: Politics Is Ruining Thanksgiving

Kristin TateRebel Buzz Contributor

If you live in a "politically divided" family, you might be in for a Thanksgiving holiday full of problems. 

A new study by M. Keith Chen of UCLA and Ryne Rohla of Washington State University found that politics really is ruining family Thanksgiving celebrations. 

The [study] matches location data from 10 million smartphones to precinct-level voting data for the 2016 election, painting a detailed portrait of how people from predominantly Democratic and Republican areas spent their 2016 Thanksgiving holiday.

In the wake of last year's bitterly contested presidential election, "politically divided" families cut their Thanksgiving celebrations short by an average of 20 to 30 minutes. Republican voters were more likely to bail on Democratic families than vice-versa. And reductions in family time were steeper in areas that saw more political ads.

In recent years, Thanksgiving has become a politically fraught time, often pitting family members with diametrically opposed political beliefs against each other over plates of turkey and mashed potatoes. Last year, for instance, news outlets across the country published stories on how to navigate political discussion with Trump-supporting uncles and socialist nephews. A majority of Americans said they hoped to avoid Thanksgiving politics completely.

Interestingly, Chen and Rohla also found the amount of political advertising in a precinct affected Thanksgiving celebrations. 

"Thanksgiving dinners are further shortened by around 1.5 minutes for every thousand political advertisements aired in the traveler's home media market," they stated. 

Overall, the author found that their "results suggest partisan differences cost American families 62 million person-hours of Thanksgiving time, 56.8 per cent from individuals living in Democratic precincts and 43.2 per cent from Republican precincts."

These depressing results speak to just how polarized our nation has become. Political tension has gotten to the point where it is now dividing families. 

Perhaps the blame can be placed squarely on the mainstream media, which has become increasingly partisan over the last year. The Pew Research Center found that the overwhelming majority of press coverage of Trump's presidency so far has been negative.

The hyper-partisan coverage only makes left-leaning voters more angry, while frustrating right-leaning voters who are fed up with not having their opinions represented in the media. 

It also doesn't help that the rise of smartphones has made it nearly impossible to unplug and tune out from politics during family time. 

Hopefully you won't let politics get in the way of stuffing your face with turkey and awkward family traditions this year. 

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commented 2017-11-21 01:34:42 -0500
Maurice Potvin well said.
commented 2017-11-20 21:10:03 -0500
Maurice, that’s a healthy attitude and you’re right, a good sense of humour goes a long way.
commented 2017-11-20 20:37:08 -0500
That’s a great story, Tammie. Gratitude makes all the difference in the world. I have very little (just OAS and CPP) and I’m in poor health, I have mobility problems, but I don’t believe the world owes me a damned thing. In fact, I always count myself blessed and I’m profoundly grateful grateful for everything I do have. So I’m a very happy and contented person. Also, having a good sense of humor, particularly the ability to laugh at yourself, goes a long way. Hey, you’re with yourself 24/7, you may as well get a laugh out of it.
commented 2017-11-20 20:06:43 -0500
You mean left wing babies left early because they are intolerant bigots. There i corrected it.
commented 2017-11-20 17:11:30 -0500
Maurice, thanks for link.
In my previous career, one of the tools I would recommend to clients is to spend some time each evening writing in a Gratitude Journal. I suggested they start with looking all of the little things around them & acknowledge this….doing this can lead to seeing things from a different perspective. Leaving the victimhood arena for a few minutes each day will encourage them to see beyond the trap of feeling entitled and constantly being disappointed. In many instances, clients reported over time it became easier for them to write in their journal; they started to actually feel grateful.
commented 2017-11-20 16:19:39 -0500
Our Thanksgiving in Canada is in October so this comes a little late for us Canadians, but Dennis Prager made an excellent video on the importance of gratitude, or giving thanks:
commented 2017-11-20 16:11:05 -0500
Families should just agree before Thanksgiving that there will be no talk of politics at all, if you can deliver on that, fine, the invitation still stands. If you can’t agree, stay home and heat up a frozen turkey dinner that tastes like cardboard and zone out with Netflix, all alone! If a person cannot leave politics out in the cold for a day, I would say that person is warped.

Ask everyone to bring old photos; board games etc…. and have some fun. Ask the family to write about what they are thankful for ahead of time, and, then read them out loud during dinner and try to guess who wrote it & why.