Some years back, my mother-in-law, as fine a lady as ever drew breath, passed a unilateral rule for the family at family holiday events, dinners, and so on: No discussion of religion or politics at family events. That ended up being a good idea; while the whole family is on the right side of the political spectrum, my brothers-in-law are paleocon, social-issues conservatives, while I am a minarchist libertarian, enough of a difference to provoke some good-natured but spirited debate.
My own parents, when they were still with us, had a similar rule, for more compelling reasons; my siblings, early-cohort Boomers, are still engaged in their late '60s and early '70s hippie-leftist politics. I love my siblings, but we don't talk politics.
More families should follow that advice. But some don't, and for those folks, The Federalist has published "A Guide To Surviving Your Miserable Leftist Guests At Thanksgiving Dinner." There are some good bits of advice and some not-so-good bits.
The danger most commonly manifests itself in the passive-aggressive dinner- or drinks-time dare. The septum-pierced undergrad who dares you to have a difference of opinion on Gaza being an “open-air prison.” The cat-lady aunt who dares you to say otherwise on the “threat to democracy” (anyone who disagrees with her, ie. you). The 30-something cuckold who dares you to have the wrong answer to his intrusive query of who “got their booster.”
They say what they want with impunity. The expectation is everyone present accepts it to get along. If not, the belief is you’ll be outsmarted and overwhelmed by their mastery of argument. Should they be countered with a superior, more popular perspective, the game isn’t over. They’ll scream. And just as likely, they’ll cry. Evening ruined. Mission accomplished.
That's the advantage of the rule my mother-in-law imposed. As soon as a leftist relative starts in, hold up a hand: "No politics at the table. No politics at family gatherings. If you don't like it, there's the door." That's harsh, but it's a lesson that all but the most stone-skulled should be able to absorb.
I do see value in this suggestion:
Invite them to relax, cheer up, and share in the joy of the season. Happiness, amusement, and contentment are not the natural disposition of leftists. They prefer anger, self-righteousness, and dismay. The most wonderful time of year quickly approaches, though it makes no difference. But it very well might be because they don’t feel explicitly included by their family and loved ones. After all, leftists are nothing if not self-absorbed, neurotic, and needy.
This is the best suggestion. If you can, push the conversation in another direction. Emphasize the joyous aspects of the holiday. Ignore the initial snide remarks and see if they back off. If they don't, remind them of the no-politics rule. What you don't want to do is engage them in the discussion; there is a time and a place for such things, and family holiday gatherings are not that place. That's why I don't see value in this suggestion:
With caution, engage the conversation. This option only works if done under the assumption the interaction is sure to become acrimonious. It’s nothing for a liberal to call family members — to say nothing of perfect strangers — racist, bigoted, and uneducated.
No. Just no. This will descend into a shouting match nine times out of ten and add stress and discord to what should be a happy occasion. Never engage.
Belittle, debase, and denigrate the cheerless sourpuss. This is generally a last resort to cope with the miserable liberals known to repeatedly spread their blight in such gatherings; the ones who can be counted on to radiate discontent and decay, infusing holidays with their unique poison.
Now, this is just childish. Let the lefty relatives be petty and childish if you like, but before you insult or belittle a family member, keep the high ground and just show them out.
People with wildly different political opinions are capable of setting those differences aside on family and social occasions. My siblings, while we disagree on many things, remain siblings, and we still follow our parents' rules at our annual sibling reunion. That's the best way, most of the time, to handle this.
There are enough outside influences making the holidays bothersome. Don't let them inside your home. It's a family holiday. Set the ground rules in advance. The day is supposed to be happy. And, yes, blood is supposed to be thicker than water. Above all else, keep the high ground. Don't get drawn into an acrimonious, angry shouting match. If the lefty relative won't back down, politely direct them to the door and tell them they are welcome to come back when they leave their politics at the door.