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To the very long list of reasons we have to give thanks that the election of 2012 has mercifully concluded we can add the holiday that’s coming up, which has become famous for throwing together relatives of disparate political persuasions and turning turkey dinners into turkey shoots. One would like to think that now that the matter is settled, the resulting exhaustion on both sides would mean this Thanksgiving’s political discussions would go something like this:

He (possibly Maureen Dowd’s brother Kevin): Congratulations on your man’s victory.
She (possibly Maureen Dowd herself ): So kind of you to mention it. Thank you.

Then the conversation might smoothly and politely pass on to football, the new cranberry relish recipe, and grandma’s heirloom tablecloth. But don’t bank on any of that if my post-election survey of the losing side’s emotions and intentions are at all accurate.

First, the emotions. I get it. I really do. The 2004 election between Bush and Kerry was the first one I followed in the blogosphere. The half-dozen or so political blogs I read daily each had at least one amateur diviner of polls who would regularly calm us partisans down whenever a poll went against Kerry. "It oversampled Republicans," they sagely informed us. Or, "It overlooked cellphones," they would announce from high atop the cutting edge of obviousness. Or, "Its methodology was wrong," they would proclaim dismissively. With my total absorption in these critiques of the polls rather than the results of the polls, I was able to convince myself and anyone who would listen that Kerry was going to win. And when he didn’t, I was so deeply shocked that I entered a total news black-out for much of a year, buried myself in pamphlets about living abroad, and hung a sign outside my door that read, No habla Inglis.

As I slowly started to regain my mental health, I threw myself into the enterprise of creating and selling John Kerry T-shirts featuring an Elvis album parody. I didn’t sell many, but the therapy was great and helped me return to the state of a functioning, politically engaged citizen once again. My 2004 experience allows me to empathize with the looks on these faces.

And, I daresay, any Obama voter with a sense of fairness and honesty should be able to admit, “Yeah, if my guy had lost that would be me, too.” So I really do understand how certain fellow citizens entered this past week positively, absolutely, indubitably convinced that America, the land that they love, would never give a president they so loathed another lease on their White House. I’ve been there…along with so many of my liberal friends who also reacted to the Bush reelection news by hunting the job and housing market in Canada.

The intentions are another matter though. My personal survey of rightwing media and my encounter in a coffee shop last week with Romney voters who only had visions of Hitler as they watched Obama tearfully thank his young campaign volunteers both indicate that conciliation will not be on the menu this Thanksgiving. The folks on the losing end of this election seem ready to go back on the warpath:

Obama won last night, but we rejoin the fray today. Fight every attempt to spend us further into oblivion. Fight every attempt to further redistribute wealth. Fight every attempt to entrench a new entitlement. Fight every attempt to weaken our military. Fight every attempt to bury Benghazi. Fight every attempt to curb our religious freedom. Fight every attempt to revise history. Fight the enervating imposition of political correctness. Fight for American exceptionalism.
Even before the chads were hung out to dry in Florida, they were filling the airwaves with calls for impeachment, secession, and investigations galore into all manner of imagined malfeasance. The unhinged host I heard on rightwing radio this morning was exhorting the 57 million voters who lost the election to confront the 59 million who won and tell them to their faces what’s wrong with them.

So this could be a real Margo Channing Thanksgiving, but there may be more we can do than just fastening our seatbelts for the bumpy night ahead. My friend and neighbor Bob Zink died this week. Bob would easily have been at home with those Romney voters in the coffee shop comparing Obama to Hitler. Over the years, our political discussions—regardless of the subject—global warming, taxation, immigration, whatever—got hot in a microwave instant. Where Bob was a loyal Limbaugh listener; I consider Limbaugh the most toxic person in the country. Bob once introduced me to a group of his fellow Sarah Palin followers as the “the biggest liberal asshole in Vista,” which I took as high praise.

Yet, I am going to greatly miss Bob this Thanksgiving, which I would agree to spend with him in a heartbeat. Bob was the classic guy who would give you the shirt off his back. And he didn’t have to know you to do it either. Once we were traveling together with our wives and standing around waiting for our baggage in Houston when Bob excused himself to approach a pregnant woman at the adjoining carousel. He told her that when she saw her bags to wave him over and he would retrieve them for her. When a lesbian couple at his synagogue adopted a baby, it was Bob they asked to be its honorary grandfather, a role he enthusiastically embraced despite his politics. And whenever we ran into each other around town, he was always keenly sensitive to a personal issue that he knew had deeply plagued me for years and was always ready with a sympathetic ear and fatherly advice. (And the day after calling me the biggest liberal asshole in Vista, he called to apologize profusely...the man had both conscience and soul.)

We kept the politics that divided us to very brief, occasionally sharp exchanges, but both moved quickly and eagerly to the common ground where we knew our relationship could safely exist. We valued our friendship enough to never let politics ruin it. Agreeing to disagree may sound like the lamest of strategies, but given how helpful it was to Bob and me over the years, it may be just the ticket for avoiding a rancorous Thanksgiving. So when your bitter Uncle Buster concludes grace by saying something like, “And God save America from our socialist, Muslim, Kenyan overlord,” you answer by saying something like, “And God save the New England Patriots from that porous secondary of theirs. So now tell me, Uncle Buster, politics aside, what was the happiest day of your life.”

Originally posted to Capriccio on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 03:43 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm very sorry for the loss of your friend Bob (5+ / 0-)

    We have several friends and acquaintances who are Tea Partiers, sadly, being that we live in a very Red portion of a very Red state.

    I'm not as easygoing or tolerant as you are, but my husband is genial and diplomatic.
    I dislike confrontation immensely and am very good at tuning out, which has taken me years to perfect.
    Fortunately, my husband is usually with me, so he replies and comments in a highly intelligent and congenial manner.

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  •  Capriccio - thank you for your diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ms badger, Rosebuddear

    and great advice!

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 05:22:33 PM PST

  •  Good story (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4mygirls, Rosebuddear, bluedust

    A nice bit of cheer for Thanksgiving. Compassion is one of the key parts of being liberal—and staying sane with good friends.

    SO-CALLED FRIEND: "Do you think America is sliding into socialism?" ME: "You don't get it, do you?"

    by RyanHarvey on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 11:12:58 PM PST

  •  yes that is a good story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53

    great diary.

    One of my best friends is a winger, we have agreed not to talk politics, whenever she tries to introduce a bit of Obama bashing or RW talking points into our conversation, I smack her down hard, she shrugs and smiles like "oh well I tried". And then we move on. When she does that, my favorite thing to say to her is "just how stupid do you think I am?"  To her credit, she has never taken the low road to tell me just how stupid she thinks I am. :):):)

    As for family - my whole family in 2000, 2004, they were pretty rabid Republicans, but all did some soul searching. I am quite proud of them actually. They have all always had this Ross Perot/Libertarian streak in them, which confused them during W's reign, and the I-like-Ike moderate Republican in them started to resurface. They ALL voted for Obama. As to others on the ticket, I don't know. But they have all regained their sanity quite nicely, so I don't press for answers.

    So our Thanksgiving will be peaceful and happy. For which I am, well, thankful.

    Best to you and yours and happy Thanksgiving.

    Old Mamasan would certainly be glad to know that Ronnie's gotten past it. I'll tell her the next time I see her. Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

    by Rosebuddear on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 08:10:34 AM PST

  •  We are spending Thanksgiving with a winger (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leema, ladybug53, bluedust, NYC Sophia

    We will be at my Dad's in LA and he is inviting the cranky neighbor. She told me that she had been unemployed for two years and it was because "the illegal Mexicans" had taken all the jobs. I asked what her job had been. "Museum docent". Seriously.

    She told me right before the election that being in this country without documentation was a felony. "So every illegal alien is a felon!" Of course, I checked. Being caught repeatedly can result in a felony but law-abiding citizens are not charged with a felony upon discovery and being undocumented is generally considered a civil, not criminal matter.

    I usually avoid talking politics with her because she is all loaded up with talking points, but I was in LA just before the election and told her that I knew how she felt because I had suffered from Bush Derangement Syndrome and was convinced Bush and Cheney would not give up their offices. (My sig line on Kos for the Bush years was "Those who take power through a coup do not relinquish it willingly") I told her that I was happy to be wrong and that the Obama era would also end and power would shift again. She said she fears we will be a Socialist Country by then. She also told me how happy she is that since she just turned 65 she gets Social Security. Cognitive dissonance all over the place.  

    So I promised my father that politics would be off the table for Thanksgiving so we can all simply concentrate on our many many blessings.

    "Seed corn. It's what's for dinner!" Republican philosophy of governance

    by madame damnable on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:06:33 AM PST

    •  That sounds really difficult to take...my hat's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      off to you!     May the focusing on blessings  work.

      I think our dinner will be relatively calm this year...my sig other's daughter & partner are strongly in the Obama camp....but I'm not sure about the son & his girl friend who will be coming here from rural CO.   We shall see.  

      I'm not mentioning the next door neighbor who listens to Limbaugh but doesn't really know anything and who might be coming also!  

      "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

      by leema on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 04:38:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am sorry for the loss of your friend. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53

    I am not looking forward to the holiday.  Just before the election, my mother and I got into a huge fight over politics...so sad, actually.  What started as simple policy differences, (and I knew she was Republican), turned into "We still have questions on Obama's birth certificate".  Um, no we don't, turned into, "AND he went to school in Indonesia...what did he learn there?".  

    Which hits very close to home, as my husband is Italian, born here accidentally, then whisked back to Italy at a mere 4 months to be schooled there till he was 10.  So how is what Obama went through, different then your son-in-law, father of your ONLY grandchildren?  Oh, yes, the silence hung.  Throw in the fact that my entire family is Mormon, and I am no longer "practicing" (there is no true escape they haunt me constantly to rejoin the flock).  sigh

    I later apologized for being harsh, and said let's just put our politics aside, but she never replied to me, but I'm supposed to bring pie on Thursday.  

    I suspect it will be fine, as I will just nod and keep my mouth shut, but I was really crushed to learn that my mother is a teabagger/birther and there is no reasoning with that.  

    Well.  Guess I got that out.  Sorry.  

  •  This was the first time I clicked on one of those (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, NYC Sophia

    pages that feature the expressions of Romney people when they realized they lost.  Ouch, that was painful. Watching Rove have a melt-down on Fox was fun, but not these people.
    "My 2004 experience allows me to empathize with the looks on these faces."   I remember my 2004 Election day-after.  
    **
    Your friend Bob sounds like he was a great guy.

    For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?'' ...

    by QuaintIrene on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:58:58 AM PST

  •  I bought a couple of Jehovah Witness woman (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53

    A Rotissere chicken and King Hawaiian rolls and some pudding and Cocoa and Apple pie and Cherry  Berry pie, i know they do not celebrate  Thankgiving ,but i could not in good conscious not do it for them, i do not expect nothing in return ,it was the right thing to do

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