I'll be the first to say that my parents have influenced my political beliefs.
In fact, maybe it's even more than that. The first time I ever paid attention to politics was in 2012 when Barack Obama was about to be elected for his second term. My mother was a fervent supporter of his campaign. It was hard to ignore my father, who swung back and forth, telling me to keep an open mind, and that both Democrats and Republicans had pros and cons that could be challenged.
About half of my family supports the Democratic party and the other half supports the Republicans. A few months ago, it was funny to hear my little cousin make jokes at the dinner table about Trump because no one in my family could actually predict the outcome of this election. Half of my family believed whole-heartedly that we were going to have our first female president, while the other half firmly believed that we needed an outsider in the White House. Now here we are as a country with the results of the election, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For those of us with families who lean both left and right, how are we going to have civil, smooth conversations about the election at Thanksgiving?
My answer is simple: keep an open mind. Give your families and friends a chance.
My uncle and cousin, who both voted for Trump, are not racists, bigots, or homophobes. I know that they didn't vote for Trump because they want a wall to be built, women to lose the right to choose, or Muslims to be banned from this country. My mother and aunt, who both voted for Clinton, are not angry, bitter Feminazis. I cannot speak for every voter in this country, but the people I know and love who voted for both parties believed in their candidate for different reasons.
If you're planning to tackle the election at the dinner table, remember this. Remember that we want our nation as well as our families to be unified under love, not hate and resentment. Remember that none of us can predict what will happen in the next four years under our future president, whether it be good or bad. Remember that if we are to remain strong as a country, we need to tolerate each other, and that includes tolerating our friends and family members with differing opinions. Whether your cousin, aunt, or best friend voted for Clinton, Trump, or a dead gorilla doesn't change the fact that they are family. Americans support their families and friends, and the outcome of this election shouldn't change that.
And yes, that includes the people who wrote in Harambe on their ballots. We even need to tolerate them.