The most stereotypical, called-out liberals in America, for generations, have been the most creative, the most educated and the most well informed members of our society. Who wouldn't want to be grouped in with them?! Yet the holidays are upon us, and for many of us this does not just mean heading home for some quality time with our kin and stuffing ourselves with turkey and pumpkin pie. It also means that for liberals who grew up with conservative families, or even just that lone uncle who thinks "Obama is ruining this country with his socialism" or that "the gays shouldn't be getting married" or that "scientists are pulling a fast one with all this climate change mumbo jumbo," that we are on a collision course with the inevitable: the Thanksgiving dinner political argument.
I am one such liberal. I grew up in a loving family, both immediate and extended, of mostly conservative Republicans. With the exception of a few cousins and my brother's late turn towards leaning slightly left, I will be heading home to suburban Chicago for the holiday as the lone liberal ideologue. Now I know that no family is the same; some liberals have one liberal parent and one conservative one, others have conservative grandparents but liberal parents and so on, so I will keep this guide very broad. I could also give you talking points on specific, topical issues such as Occupy Wall Street, the GOP presidential field, and President Obama's job performance but there is little way of knowing which issue your relatives will bring up.
Instead I suggest you keep your rebuttal fundamental. I am not the type of person who thinks that you should shy away from intelligent conversation on the specifics, but let's face it, odds are your family isn't looking to talk specifics, they want to talk ideology in the end, even if they don't know it. Your family, unlike your peers, saw you born with no ideology, surrounded by conservatives in many cases, and you grew up to become a bleeding heart, tree-hugging liberal Democrat and they want to know why, God dammit!
So here are some things to remember before you sit down to that holiday dinner: Think of, say, the top three most stereotypically liberal groups in the U.S., the ones that conservatives often target for being liberally-biased: Hollywood, teachers and the news media. All three of these groups are far from perfect, without question. However, if you break them down you have to wonder about the trend of liberalism in them.
1) Hollywood is lauded as the epicenter of entertainment and creativity in every corner of the world, including in the most conservative areas of this country, even if they would hate to admit it (if that is not true then somebody explain to me all the Nielsen ratings, movie ticket stubs, and iTunes downloads from rural America...). All Americans laugh and cry and cheer for a group of Hollywood "elitist" liberals every time they turn on their TV or sit down in a theater.
2) Teachers and the educational system on the whole are often labeled liberal because the top colleges and universities in the country have liberal-leaning professors and curriculum. Nearly every Ivy League school, including Harvard, Yale and Brown, are historically liberal. Many of our Founding Fathers attended these liberal institutions and were part of the east coast elite, at a time when America was ONLY an East Coast anyway! I could go on for days about how the Tea Party worships men who really don't measure up to what they hold dear, nor would our founders side with them on most things, but it has been said enough. My point here is that many of our most admired doctors, authors, lawyers, architects, entrepreneurs, CEO's, and even conservative politicians were originally attracted to and hail from these liberal institutions.
3) The news media seems to get the most consistent backlash for being liberal. The Fox News Channel was even built in part to counteract all the "liberal bias" out there in the news media. The same liberal media that makes up the vast majority of our war correspondence, our White House and congressional correspondence and our daily news briefings that cover every area of foreign affairs and domestic policy, and it all airs or streams twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year. It could be argued that it is members of the news media that are the most qualified to pick a side.
So when your Uncle John or Aunt Jane start baiting you with classic gems such as "Obama is a Muslim socialist" or "evolution is just a theory" or "who do those hippy protesters think they are?" just remember, keep it simple. And if all else fails, slip in the fact that liberals freed the slaves, helped put a man on the moon, helped create civil rights, created Social Security and Medicare, are the ones at the forefront of protecting God's green earth, and, oh yea, finally shot Osama bin Laden in the face... Happy Holidays!
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