Updated: Dec 10, 2020
In years past, college students have packed up their belongings and headed home to celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday season with their families. However, as the holiday season approaches this year, many college students did not return home to celebrate with their families. One of the reasons being a global pandemic disrupting travel and bigger gatherings. The other being the aftermath of an extremely polarized election.
Not only has the election left the nation divided, but also American families. So much so, that many students did not see going home for Thanksgiving and the holidays as a viable option. How did our politics get so polarized that a child and their parent can't be in the same room as one another? Because this election wasn't just about policy. It was about basic human rights and decency. So now an 18-21 year old college student refuses to eat turkey next to his/her father who voted for a man who wouldn't condemn white supremacy. What used to be uncomfortable conversations has transformed into simply cutting people out of your life.
Politics have always been a contentious issue, especially among family members. I remember coming home from my freshman year of college and telling my extended family that I had chosen to study Political Science at our Thanksgiving dinner. They let out an uncomfortable and hesitant "oh," forced out some smiles, and we moved right along. Politics make people uncomfortable. Why is that? People feel very strongly about the economy, environment, healthcare, abortion, and human rights. Politics involves all of these issues and leads people to elect candidates they think will draft policy that aligns best with their personal views. This passion for highly disputed issues leads to polarization. Polarization leads to an inability to see the humanity in the "other side." This massive ideological disconnect can tear families apart.
Generation Z views the world very differently than Generation X and Baby Boomers. The global conversation and expectations have shifted tremendously in the past 60 years. Prejudice and discrimination are denounced. Gay and women rights are human rights. Climate change is real and scary. Coronavirus is ravaging the globe that so badly needs science at the forefront. Combine controversial topics and a big family table: a recipe for disaster.
So, how are we supposed to move on from this? Some view a vote for Trump as inexcusable and despicable. Some view a vote for Biden as radical and unpatriotic. Biden won. Trump lost. We are supposed to move on and prepare for the transition process, one that has typically been honored with grace and dignity, but now we face division and violence. In the streets and in our homes. I believe that every person is entitled to their own viewpoints. This is what a democracy depends on. If one believes they should cut out their father for voting for Trump, so be it. However, I believe that the only way to repair our nation is to begin to reconcile our differences at the most basic level, with our families. This requires effort from both sides. It is time to let go of that resentment for the "other side" and instead focus on the core issues and see if we can meet somewhere in the middle. If we continue in the direction we are headed, we won't recognize our nation, or our families in a few years.