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‘Tis the season: The one where everyone seems to want to give you advice on how to win arguments while spending the holidays with family members with different political views.
Yes, Americans feel more polarized right now than any other time in recent history. But the truth is that Americans are less divided than we think: 86 percent of Americans comprise the “Exhausted Majority” and are tired of the toxic polarization.
Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you feel the same way.
You know that Americans have real disagreements, but you also know that we have more in common than what divides us. And you’re more than ready to move past all the anger and actually discuss real issues productively.
Americans – family members, neighbors, coworkers – aren’t going to agree on every single issue. And that’s okay. America thrives because of our differences, not in spite of them. We can come from different backgrounds and beliefs and still find common ground – such as our pride in being a part of the great American experiment; our belief in liberty and justice for all; and our gratitude for the opportunity and promise that our country holds.
The path forward isn’t to not debate. It’s to learn how to debate better. Instead of preparing what to say to just “own the libs” or “put your MAGA uncle in his place,” what about if we try to listen to each other, understand others’ points of view, and discover areas where we can collaborate – or even persuade each other?
Let’s use this holiday season to talk with each other, not at each other. Rather than going to your in-laws ready for a fight, get ready to connect. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:
I hope these help you find more joy this holiday season and less contention. The First Amendment itself doesn’t create a culture that values free speech. It can safeguard our rights, but it’s up to us to use the tools to engage in civil debate across any lines of difference – whether that’s at the holiday dinner, in the workplace, or in civic life.
One last note. I traveled recently and saw this solid display on students’ First Amendment rights at Dulles airport in Terminal B. I am grateful for the opportunity to play a small role in a few of those cases. It gives me hope for the future of free speech to remember the young adults who defended the First Amendment and the impact they have had.
Warmest wishes to you and yours for a joyous holiday season and a happy New Year!
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