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Dear conservative reader,
I’m sorry about Thanksgiving 2013.
I got carried away. The Obama administration and seemingly every liberal website were putting out all these Guides To Explaining the Affordable Care Act to Your Conservative Uncle, and so I jumped in the game.
I offered you the “Thanksgiving guide to making conservative arguments liberals can understand.” It seemed like a good idea. You could sow some doubt about regulation by pointing out the food regs that Michael Pollan opposes. You could critique Social Security by pointing out its regressive redistribution.
But once you mentioned Monsanto, I’ve been told, it triggered a monologue from your nephew Trevor. I had no idea he would actually have a slideshow on his Macbook Air about genetically modified foods.
Aunts Carol and Linda did not take the Social Security criticism well, I heard. We probably shouldn’t have touched that third rail.
I learned my lesson, and I didn’t produce one of these guides for the last two years. Better to just avoid politics, I thought. It was smart.
But this year, avoiding politics just ain’t gonna happen. Your Baby Boomer aunts will be despondent. The glass ceiling was supposed to shatter this year. Trevor, who has been marching against Trump since Election Day, is even bringing the girlfriend he met at a Bernie rally in Oakland.
Trump will come up. You need to know how to handle it.
Limited, decentralized government
This is your chance to sell your liberal relatives on the virtues of limited government. They’ve never been into small government or Constitutional limits on executive or Congressional power. That’s all 1700’s stuff, man. The Constitution is alive, dude.
But now maybe you can sell some libertarianism to them.
“Do you want Trump, McConnell and Ryan having more say over your life or less?” Heck, even read the 10th Amendment to them — they may be warm to the idea that the federal government has only those powers explicitly granted to it by the Constitution.
Kate’s from California, and so you can pitch her on federalism. Wouldn’t it be good to shift power from Trump to Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom?
Oh no. You said “states’ rights,” didn’t you? Don’t do that — that’s a trigger word. Now Aunt Linda is ranting about the “Alt Right,” and she has no idea what it means. Trevor’s bringing up Steve Bannon. This is going the wrong way. Bring it back.
Stick instead to the common ground. Kate and Trevor were Bernie volunteers. Mention how Trump is talking about a five-year ban on administration officials cashing out to become lobbyists. He’s taking on the special interests. He’s against TPP. They should like that.
“That’s a decent point,” Kate may say. “Besides, he’s better than Mike Pence.”
Resist the temptation to argue here. I know what you’re thinking: I can pitch the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in liberal terms of tolerance and plurality. Can’t we just live and let live? Embrace diversity man? What kind of gay couple caters their wedding with Midwestern pizza anyway? Ha!
Don’t do it. It’s a trap. You cannot make headway here. Just laugh it off.
I hate to say “I told you so,” but I told you so. You went ahead and compared the contraception mandate to something else didn’t you? Like requiring Muslims to serve pork? You thought the multiculturalism angle would work, right?
Let me be clear: You May Not Make Analogies to Birth Control. This is like Rule No. 1 of arguing with liberal feminists. “Pork isn’t birth control,” may seem to be missing the point. It’s an analogy, you explain. Now you’re mansplaining literary devices to a BA from Oberlin who majored in critical lit? This is going off the rails.
You can hear the pinot noir fueling the guffaws from Aunts Linda and Carol. “Mansplaining!” they cheer. “What a perfect word!”
Take stock of your situation now. You’re about half a step from an abortion debate. I don’t need to tell you how that will end up.
Divide and retreat
Hiding in the bathroom was the right move.
You can still hear the aunts chortling. “‘Mansplaining!’ Love it!” while refilling their glasses. Trevor and Kate are out there talking about “Christian Supremacy.”
There’s only one move now: You have to make them fight each other. Then you can flee to safety.
Check out these emails published on WikiLeaks. Read them here. When you’ve finished, exit the bathroom and just drop the topic on the table: “Can you believe Donna Brazile was feeding the debate questions to Hillary? Did the DNC rig the primary or what.”
Now step back when the generational war erupts. Grab a beer. And if you get anymore questions, just say you voted for Gary Johnson.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Washington Examiner’s website on November 24, 2016. It has been re-posted on AEI.org for your reading pleasure.
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