Nationwide – Thanksgiving is associated with bringing family together and a majority of Americans say they don’t want that spoiled by political talk over the dinner table.
Of people planning to celebrate the holiday Thursday, 58 percent told pollsters they dread talking about politics on Thanksgiving, with only 31 percent eager to engage on the topic.
Retired American studies professor Chris Lewis says even though the country seems very divided right now, Thanksgiving should remind us that we’re all part of a larger, national community.
“If you asked Americans what was the most important holiday for them throughout the year, the one that means the most to them is Thanksgiving,” he points out. “Why? Because Thanksgiving brings family and community together. Believe it or not, it still seems to hold and stand for national values.”
The survey by NPR, PBS and the Marist Poll group found that two-thirds of the Democrats polled and half of the Republicans said politics should not be dished up with the turkey on Thanksgiving.
The poll also found that 67 percent of survey respondents believe the tone and level of civility in Washington has gotten worse since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016.
Predictably, 79 percent of Democrats think so, but 60 percent of Republicans also agree.
Lewis contends America currently is lacking politicians who can unite the country.
“We don’t really have leaders with the stature of someone like Roosevelt or, of course, Lincoln to stand and call Americans together once again,” he points out.
The survey found that Americans are much less pessimistic on the home front – with the majority saying the level of discourse in their local community is not worse since the 2016 election.
Lewis says that optimism is what Thanksgiving has traditionally been known for.
“It’s about sitting down and celebrating family and community and the year’s successes and failures and knowing that we are stronger as families and communities because we as Americans need that to keep going, to keep trying to make our society a better society,” he states.
Both Republicans and Democrats agreed by a large margin that attacks by both political parties have crossed the line since the 2016 election and gone beyond acceptable boundaries.
Roz Brown, Public News Service