Dread Talking Politics with Your Republican Family?

3 reasons you should — and how to do it well — this holiday season

Karin Tamerius
Progressively Speaking
4 min readNov 8, 2021

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Many of us hate the idea of having political conversations with Republican family members — we may even avoid them to keep the peace. But the political stakes for the nation are too high for us to pretend our political differences don’t matter.

If you’re worried about the rise of authoritarianism, concerned about climate change, or committed to ending systemic racism, talking about politics with Republican family and friends isn’t just a good thing to do — it’s a moral obligation.

Here are three reasons why:

#1 Winning elections

Democrats have been chasing the myth of mobilization for far too long. Registering voters and getting out the vote are very important, but they won’t get us where we need to be, from the presidency and Congress down to state officials and even school boards. If our losses and narrow victories last week showed us anything, it’s that we need to sell our message to a wider range of voters — not just those who already agree with us. Yes, Republicans have rigged the game with gerrymandering and voter suppression, but that makes it even more important to reach voters who aren’t on our side.

#2 Passing legislation

That said, even winning elections isn’t enough. As we pull our hair out over Biden’s stalled legislative agenda, it’s time to accept that winning an electoral trifecta — control of the presidency, Senate, and House — doesn’t automatically let you keep your promises to voters. Passing legislation requires coalitions and broad-based support, but if Republican legislators aren’t pressured by their own voters to collaborate, they won’t. We can’t persuade every conservative voter to switch parties, but if we get enough of them to change their minds on individual proposals, we can shift the political winds.

#3 Fighting prejudice

Yes, reasons #1 and #2 are important, but it’s easy to become so fixated on electoral and legislative politics that we lose focus on the larger challenge of improving American culture. Our country is struggling with all kinds of outdated…

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Karin Tamerius
Progressively Speaking

Political psychiatrist | Pragmatic progressive | Smart Politics founder (JoinSmart.org) | Speaker