How To Talk to Your Progressive Niece about Obamacare This Thanksgiving

 

shutterstock_41145493As your family gathers around the table this Thanksgiving, the conversation may get a little heated if a left-wing relative brings up the 2016 race, the attacks by ISIS, or President Obama’s failing health reforms. In particular, the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular and misunderstood among the American public — a combination that makes it likely fodder for holiday conflicts.

The liberal website ThinkProgress posted an article titled “How To Talk To Your Tea Party Uncle About Obamacare This Thanksgiving” while Vox published “How to Survive Your Family’s Thanksgiving Arguments.” So, if your niece is a progressive blogger and starts making wild assertions about the Affordable Care Act, here are some key points that will help keep your conversation on track:

Claim: Obamacare is not causing premiums to skyrocket.

You are excited to see your sister and brother-in-law for the first time in three years. As you welcome them into your home for an overdue celebration, their twenty-something daughter walks by your hug. “We need to talk about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” she says, pulling an iPad from her Netroots Nation tote bag. Her parents offer a resigned look and mention that she just got her Master’s in Gender Sustainability.

“Fantastic work,” you say, “I always knew you’d do it! You must have got your smarts from…”

“Does your TV have wi-fi?” she interrupts. “The pie charts really pop on a big screen. According to a recent Center for American Progress analysis, the premium rates for individual market in states with federally-run marketplaces will increase by an average of less than four…”

Before she continues, offer her a glass of wine and ask about her favorite classes. This provides a polite excuse to step out out of the living room while allowing your other guests to keep watching football.

Claim: Jonathan Gruber did not expose the “real truth” about the law.

To everyone’s relief, your niece’s iPad battery is too drained to show her presentation. (She spent the drive over watching a live-streamed #OccupyCapitalism protest at a Puyallup Walmart.) While your spouse plies her with appetizers, you hide all the Apple charger cords from view. But before long, the earnest progressive buttonholes septuagenarian Aunt Judy in an angry screed about “Faux News’ biased coverage of GruberGate.”

“The debate over Obamacare thoroughly addressed the aspects of the policy that the MIT economist claims lawmakers were hiding,” she shouts into Judy’s bad ear. “The Congressional Budget Office did score the individual mandate as a mechanism to increase revenue, and President Obama was open about…”

At this point, interrupt with family photos. “Did you know we still have pictures of you as a kid? Let’s go to the other room — I bet we can find that photo of Aunt Judy nursing you back to health when you had chicken pox.” As you leave, Aunt Judy turns her hearing aid back on so she can enjoy the third quarter.

Claim: Obamacare has successfully lowered the uninsured rate.

Good news! You’ve successfully refocused your niece and the other guests on funny stories, family memories and plans for the next year. But as everyone sits down to the Thanksgiving feast, Grandpa complains about the troubles he’s had scheduling that hip surgery.

Your ThinkProgress niece seizes the opportunity. “Just imagine how bad it would be if you were poor, a person of color, or a woman!” she says. “Did you know that many oppressed communities with preexisting conditions were able to attain coverage for the first time when ACA marketplaces opened? According to data compiled by Commonwealth Fund…”

Now is the time to gently remind her that before she shares research about Medicaid expansion’s effect on the low-income transgendered, the family needs to say grace and load up their plates. If she still doesn’t get the hint, encourage every guest, one by one, to say what they are most thankful for this year.

Claim: Businesses are not cutting back on workers’ hours or coverage because of Obamacare.

Wisely, you made sure your progressive niece is one of the last to share her Thanksgiving story. Everyone talking about close calls avoided, unexpected little miracles and new job opportunities will surely help her focus on the deeper meanings of family and the holidays. Not so fast.

“The fact that Ben and Jennie got new jobs proves that Obamacare is not creating a ‘part-time economy’ like teatard wingnuts keep claiming!” Your brother-in-law tries to stop her as she hands out white papers from the Urban Institute and the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation.

Since none of your gentle rebukes have worked, it’s time to level with your ThinkProgress blogger niece. “Honey, everyone at this table loves you very much. But today isn’t about arguing. Thanksgiving is about counting our blessings and sharing just one day with family from around the country. All of us have different views on politics, religion, football and everything else. But today is about setting all that aside and remembering what we have in common: Family. Now, who wants seconds?”

A version of this article was first posted last Thanksgiving.

Members have made 45 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Douglas Member

    First relative that tries to lecture me on politics at the Thanksgiving table… especially Millenials…. gets a fork in the face.

    • #1
    • November 23, 2015 at 10:03 am
  2. Profile photo of Austin Murrey Member

    Jon is far more patient than I. If a family member came in with the proverbial iPad and, no doubt, a tofurkey I’d loudly pronounce that there weren’t enough seats at the table and set her in the garage with an old stuffed animal as a dining companion – then I’d mention that since everyone at the table was similarly wool-headed they’d no doubt enjoy the meal.

    Unsurprisingly I don’t host many family dinners.

    • #2
    • November 23, 2015 at 10:10 am
  3. Profile photo of Mike Rapkoch Member

    If you live in Colorado just give her some pot and stick her in the tool shed with 50 bags of Funyons.

    • #3
    • November 23, 2015 at 10:20 am
  4. Profile photo of Roberto Member

    To be sure this has the sound of a nightmare Thanksgiving but shouldn’t it be seen as an opportunity?

    This would really be the perfect time to chat with these spunky youngsters about the upcoming election, “You know who has a healthcare plan you’ll love, Trump, and that is just the beginning! During the Trump administration we’ll have so much winning, you’ll get bored with winning. Let me tell you about all his immigration plans, they’re big I tell you HUGE….”

    donald-trumppresident

    • #4
    • November 23, 2015 at 10:28 am
  5. Profile photo of Barkha Herman Member

    Jon: with all due respect, your advise goes in the “defensive” column. When speaking to young ones, especially the clueless variety, I like to use “compassionate firmness”.

    How about asking some tough questions like:

    1. How many degrees has the earth cooled since 2008?
    2. What percentage of women now earn equal pay to men? How many in the white house do?
    3. Is every one in the US now insured?
    4. How many people now live in war zones in the world?
    5. When did Gitmo close?
    6. What is the current debt?
    7. Are we racially integrated now?

    Then, talk about how despite Obama being the noblest of men, it is impossible to get much done due to the size of the Government, and how the only solution to many of our problems is to get the government out of the issues.

    • #5
    • November 23, 2015 at 10:42 am
  6. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    There is only 1 thing to do:

    • #6
    • November 23, 2015 at 10:47 am
  7. Profile photo of JimGoneWild Member

    Sorry John, but I poke, prod, ridicule and crack-wise on my niece until she gives up.

    • #7
    • November 23, 2015 at 10:49 am
  8. Profile photo of Kevin Creighton Contributor

    Douglas:First relative that tries to lecture me on politics at the Thanksgiving table… especially Millenials…. gets a fork in the face.

    Oh no, they’ll be MUCH more subtle about things, like using a handy-dandy gun control placemat to do the talking for them.

    • #8
    • November 23, 2015 at 10:58 am
  9. Profile photo of Barkha Herman Member

    Kevin Creighton:

    Douglas:First relative that tries to lecture me on politics at the Thanksgiving table… especially Millenials…. gets a fork in the face.

    Oh no, they’ll be MUCH more subtle about things, like using a handy-dandy gun control placemat to do the talking for them.

    Kevin –

    The only response to that is to open carry at the dinner table.

    • #9
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:00 am
  10. Profile photo of HeartofAmerica Member

    Niece, schmiece! It’s all of my husbands family.

    I loved the one Thanksgiving when my sister-in-law tried to engage my college-age son (when we were out of earshot) by saying, “you all never seem to join the conversation about politics, it’s okay if you do, you know.”

    I truly believe she thought that he was a hidden progressive and didn’t want to speak up in front of us. In reality, we’ve asked our (very anti-progressive, extremely pro-capitalism) son not to debate them because it wouldn’t be pretty and that would probably be the end of all the holidays.

    • #10
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:03 am
  11. Profile photo of Songwriter Member

    HeartofAmerica:Niece, schmiece! It’s all of my husbands family.

    I loved the one Thanksgiving when my sister-in-law tried to engage my college-age son (when we were out of earshot) by saying, “you all never seem to join the conversation about politics, it’s okay if you do, you know.”

    I truly believe she thought that he was a hidden progressive and didn’t want to speak up in front of us. In reality, we’ve asked our (very anti-progressive, extremely pro-capitalism) son not to debate them because it wouldn’t be pretty and that would probably be the end of all the holidays.

    I think we might like to meet your son here at Ricochet.

    • #11
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:08 am
  12. Profile photo of Barkha Herman Member

    My nephew was visiting from India. I spoke to him about political issues, and he was hesitant to talk at fist. I asked him what he thought of guns, and his response was tepid. I understood it to be “guns are dangerous and should be restricted”. So, I took him to the range. It took a bit for him to warm up, and then things wen red hot :-D.

    Later, over dinner, we spoke of liberty, the need for an armed citizenry, political corruption and why Government needs to be small.

    It is important to listen to the concerns of the young and expose them to the alternate thought; which, I find in many cases, they’ve never been exposed to. The lefty drag – they grew up on. The only thing new under the sun for many youngsters is classical liberal thought.

    • #12
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:12 am
  13. Profile photo of RabbitHoleRedux Member

    Mike Rapkoch:If you live in Colorado just give her some pot and stick her in the tool shed with 50 bags of Funyons.

    LOL! This is truly twisted. (Are Funyons even still around?)

    • #13
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:36 am
  14. Profile photo of Ryan M(cPherson) Coolidge

    I think I have 2 liberal family members, and both live thousands of miles away.

    I am extremely lucky in that regard!

    • #14
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:40 am
  15. Profile photo of Spin Coolidge

    Kevin Creighton:

    Douglas:First relative that tries to lecture me on politics at the Thanksgiving table… especially Millenials…. gets a fork in the face.

    Oh no, they’ll be MUCH more subtle about things, like using a handy-dandy gun control placemat to do the talking for them.

    For my part, when it starts I pull out my concealed weapon, set it on the table, and say “Let’s talk about the 2nd Amendment, instead…”

    (I don’t really, why should I do that?)

    • #15
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:46 am
  16. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    Ryan M:I think I have 2 liberal family members, and both live thousands of miles away.

    I am extremely lucky in that regard!

    I don’t think people with more politically mixed or progressive families realize that even when you get a bunch of conservative family members together the volume tends to rise and people get angry. They’re not angered by silly comments. They’re angered by the madness of the world we live in.

    Avoiding heated conversations is hopeless. Instead, arrange for the political junkies to have their own sound-proofed area, be it a corner room or a patio.

    In the South, just interject a statement about football. Irresistible!

    • #16
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:46 am
  17. Profile photo of Ryan M(cPherson) Coolidge

    Aaron Miller:

    Ryan M:I think I have 2 liberal family members, and both live thousands of miles away.

    I am extremely lucky in that regard!

    I don’t think people with more politically mixed or progressive families realize that even when you get a bunch of conservative family members together the volume tends to rise and people get angry. They’re not angered by silly comments. They’re angered by the madness of the world we live in.

    Avoiding heated conversations is hopeless. Instead, arrange for the political junkies to have their own sound-proofed area, be it a corner room or a patio.

    oh, true. If my family all actually got together, it would probably get like that at some point (although people generally break off into small groups, talking about whatever they like). But I don’t have family close enough for that to happen. So it’s a relatively small group with plenty to talk about without ever delving into anything controversial.

    Besides, it’s almost completely a group effort, so that (with only a few exceptions), everyone is busy either cooking or playing with the kids. That is the nice thing about small children.

    • #17
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:50 am
  18. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

    The only topic of discussion that should ever be allowed at the Thanksgiving table is, “why is nobody handing me more food?”

    • #18
    • November 23, 2015 at 11:50 am
  19. Profile photo of Hoyacon Member

    It’s with great fortune that I’m able to dine at the table of a cousin who is a recently-retired Marine colonel. Nobody talks politics. They better not.

    • #19
    • November 23, 2015 at 12:00 pm
  20. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Barkha Herman: My nephew was visiting from India. I spoke to him about political issues, and he was hesitant to talk at fist. I asked him what he thought of guns, and his response was tepid. I understood it to be “guns are dangerous and should be restricted”. So, I took him to the range. It took a bit for him to warm up, and then things wen red hot :-D.

    Guns are a gateway drug to freedom.

    • #20
    • November 23, 2015 at 12:29 pm
  21. Profile photo of drlorentz Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation.

    Dude, it’s the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Know your Progs.

    • #21
    • November 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm
  22. Profile photo of Trinity Waters Thatcher

    Roberto:To be sure this has the sound of a nightmare Thanksgiving but shouldn’t it be seen as an opportunity?

    This would really be the perfect time to chat with these spunky youngsters about the upcoming election, “You know who has a healthcare plan you’ll love, Trump, and that is just the beginning! During the Trump administration we’ll have so much winning, you’ll get bored with winning. Let me tell you about all his immigration plans, they’re big I tell you HUGE….”

    donald-trumppresident

    Roberto, you get the esteemed award for first Trump slam in an unrelated post. Congrats!

    • #22
    • November 23, 2015 at 12:41 pm
  23. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    I have a liberal niece. She is also smart enough not to raise the subject of Obamacare and its costs. She knows if she did, I would invite her to pay the difference between my health insurance premiums in 2011 and my premium today.

    Here is a clue: in 2011 my monthly insurance premium was significantly less than my monthly mortgage payment. Today it is over twice my monthly mortgage payment.

    Seawriter

    • #23
    • November 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm
  24. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member

    In my family, Thanksgiving table talk is limited to four subjects: (1) what we’re grateful for (excluding government agencies and their programs), (2) food, (3) why we love guns, and (4) football. People who violate these rules of engagement must eat their pumpkin pie outside.

    • #24
    • November 23, 2015 at 2:21 pm
  25. Profile photo of DizzyBritches Coolidge

    My conservative-behind-closed-doors sister has already chided me for sharing on Facebook things that my progressive millennial nieces object to, the little dears. Nevertheless, I’m sharing this on Facebook. I still remember the thank-you note I received from Elder Niece, telling me that she had just used the Amazon gift card I gave her for Christmas to purchase Lena Dunham’s book. This year she’s getting socks.

    • #25
    • November 23, 2015 at 4:27 pm
  26. Profile photo of Roberto Member

    Tom Riehl:

    Roberto:To be sure this has the sound of a nightmare Thanksgiving but shouldn’t it be seen as an opportunity?

    This would really be the perfect time to chat with these spunky youngsters about the upcoming election, “You know who has a healthcare plan you’ll love, Trump, and that is just the beginning! During the Trump administration we’ll have so much winning, you’ll get bored with winning. Let me tell you about all his immigration plans, they’re big I tell you HUGE….”

    Roberto, you get the esteemed award for first Trump slam in an unrelated post. Congrats!

    Meh, I view him as one of the easy ways to get a rise out of Lefties. Useful in that fashion, they can’t handle him as he breaks all the rules.

    • #26
    • November 23, 2015 at 7:22 pm
  27. Profile photo of Douglas Member

    DizzyBritches:My conservative-behind-closed-doors sister has already chided me for sharing on Facebook things that my progressive millennial nieces object to, the little dears. Nevertheless, I’m sharing this on Facebook. I still remember the thank-you note I received from Elder Niece, telling me that she had just used the Amazon gift card I gave her for Christmas to purchase Lena Dunham’s book. This year she’s getting socks.

    “By the way, I’m writing you out of the will. Pass the potatoes, please”.

    • #27
    • November 23, 2015 at 7:32 pm
  28. Profile photo of Brian McMenomy Member

    Claim: Jonathan Gruber did not expose the “real truth” about the law.

    To everyone’s relief, your niece’s iPad battery is too drained to show her presentation. (She spent the drive over watching a live-streamed #OccupyCapitalism protest at a Puyallup Walmart.)

    It’s a Tumwater Walmart (Evergreen State College Geoducks nearby & all that), but you’re close.

    Yes, that really is their nickname.

    • #28
    • November 23, 2015 at 8:12 pm
  29. Profile photo of Casey Member

    This is really great but why is there a photo of a family from 1992 sitting around a card table carving a pineapple decorated hen with a butter knife?

    • #29
    • November 23, 2015 at 8:18 pm
  30. Profile photo of Casey Member

    And FYI – Red wine does not pair well with French fries.

    • #30
    • November 23, 2015 at 8:18 pm
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