7 Tips to Not Be a Jerk When Discussing Politics

After the 2016 Presidential election, the political landscape in America has evolved into a hostile wasteland filled with minefields and high explosives.  Social media has been overrun by countless shares and arguments between former acquaintances, now bitter enemies.  Really, this shouldn’t be surprising.  As of late, centrism has given way to extreme polarization.  Instead of choosing between left leaning and right leaning, we’re choosing between characters that some deem socialists and Nazis.  What a time to be alive!  Still yet, maintaining proper etiquette when taking to the discussion boards and campfire talks and bringing up politics shows upon our character, not our politicians’. Thus, it is imperative that we conduct ourselves in the most respectful of manners. Otherwise, we may find ourselves the victim of a missile barrage of derogatory political terms or worse, the dreaded block/unfriend.  To that end, here are seven ways to generally not be an a-hole when you’re talking politics with your buds over whatever it is that you drink.

1. Understand that it is legal and respectable to disagree or have different opinions.

Seems simple enough, huh?  Recently, things have gotten a bit hostile between our two three-ish? parties, and it’s become acceptable to berate those with opposing political stances.  Repeat after me:  This is not okay.  Everybody has different life experiences and upbringings that generally shape our political views.  Even people who identify with the same party can often times have different moral values and priorities.  And that’s okay.  The beauty of the American political system is that it (theoretically) flourishes when there are numerous opinions (think, checks and balances).  The first step to general argument enlightenment is acceptance of the fact that people will disagree with you, but that it doesn’t make them terrible people.  It doesn’t even make them bad people.  They’re just people people.

2. Do not raise your voice or act, in other various ways, like a monkey.

Generally speaking, raising your voice during a discussion is frowned upon.  If you’re having a political discussion, that’s still a discussion, so it’s still frowned upon.  Unfortunately, the recent election cycle has brought about the advent of an entire new breed of chimpery.  It should go without saying that when you’re talking with someone, differing viewpoints does not justify generally being rude. This seems like a given, but we seem to have abandoned generally being respectful to each other in favor of slinging insults and making loud noises, which are both generally no-nos.

3. Provide justification for your view points.

When it comes down to it, the purpose of your political chess match is to eventually persuade the person you’re talking to to agree with you at least a little more than when you started.  Otherwise, you’re just one of those people who enjoy arguing for no reason, which is just weird.  To that end, most people don’t just take ideas pulled out of thin air and latch on to them (unless you’re a Scientologist) and will need a little bit of convincing.  So when you’re talking to your Democratic friend about abortion, try providing a legitimate reason as to why you disagree with it/feel the way you do.  If you’re talking to your Republican friend about a single payer healthcare system, try providing a reason as to why it’s a good idea.  Don’t just keep repeating that it’s the best way of doing things.

4.  Compromise.

There will be very few times when you end a political conversation with the phrase, “You know, you’re right.  That makes sense.  I agree.”  That doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve some good out of the conversation though.  Just because you disagree with the big picture that someone is trying to support doesn’t mean that the whole thing is wrong.  Most often, you’ll disagree on details but will agree on a few points at least.  Establishing this common ground is a great way to build the respect of your rivals and peers, and reinforces the idea that although you disagree, you both are striving to find the best way to run the country.

5.  Don’t take it personally.

Okay.  We know you love Bernie or The Donald.  We get that.  Having a deep seated love for a politician has been around for ages and will be around for ages, but just because you’re feeling the Bern doesn’t mean you should stop talking to your friend who insults Bernie, and just because you like The Donald doesn’t mean that it’s a big deal to say something about his hair.  Bernie’s a socialist, Donald doesn’t have great hair, Hillary is pretty much a liar.  You can come up with phrases like these for LITERALLY EVERY politician.  Not a big deal.  Expanding on this, just because someone disagrees on policy with you does not mean they hate you or wish you harm.  You just have different opinions.  Don’t get super upset over it.  The world will go on, and you really don’t have to rebuild those bridges once the election cycle is over.

6.  Try to be objective.

Politics in America is generally garbage.  Let’s face it.  The two party system has given rise to the idea that you either have to be right or left.  As such, most of our information is spun either to the right or to the left to fit a political agenda.  That doesn’t mean that we have to do the same thing.  Try to present information and arguments in a way that doesn’t heavily favor one side or the other.  If the facts support you, great.  If they don’t, you’re better off not saying anything than trying to spin them around to say something else.  Of course, we all have political preferences, and it’s generally impossible for humans to be entirely objective, but at least putting forward the effort will result in conversations that are generally less frustrating for everyone.

7.  Learn when to keep your mouth shut.

You ever hear the phrase, “There’s a time to fight, and a time to walk away”?  This applies to political discussion.  It is against human pride to concede anything.  We’re competitors and it generally involves an internal moral dilemma when we surrender something, especially when there’s a chance of victory for us.  However, there are just some times when the perks of winning just don’t outweigh the cost of winning.  Even when you’re right, just ask yourself:  Is winning this argument worth not talking to this person for a month?  Or worse, is escalating this discussion and carrying it for the next thirty minutes going to be worth the end satisfaction of proving someone wrong?  Sometimes, the answer is yes.  Victory is sweet, and the defeat of your enemies will sting them to the core.  Other times, it’s better to simply keep quiet, and walk away.  Your friends will thank you, your spouses/girlfriends will thank you, your blood pressure will thank you.  It’s not always worth the hassle.

Welp, that’s it.  If you use these tips, you can conduct yourself in a manner that will save you time and heartache.  Don’t let politics get you down, or worse, make you act like a complete ape.  Keep on carrying on, and remember that Republican, Democrat, or whatever that other party is, we’re all Americans, and we all have to live here, unless you’re one of the celebrities that said they’d move if Trump were elected president.  In that case, you’re probably free to move wherever.


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