Archive for Saturday, November 1, 2008

Election debates strain family meals

November 1, 2008


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With only a few days remaining in the 2008 political campaign, political discourse can overwhelm the airwaves - and dinner-table discussions as well.

For some families with divided political allegiances, election season can be difficult.

Jessica Griffith, a Lawrence resident, said that while she's pretty liberal, her father is a conservative. Or at least, he claims to be, she said.

"'You're really a Democrat,'" Griffith said she'll tell her father these days, who she said supports abortion rights and women's rights.

The subject of politics comes up nearly every time they speak these days, and she said she gets a flurry of pro-Republican e-mails from her father, too.

"He kind of antagonizes me," she said. "I kind of try to not send as many back, but when he asks for it, I'll send stuff."

Barrie Arachtingi, a psychologist and executive director of Christian Psychological Services in Lawrence, said that in a healthy family setting, differing political positions can lead to healthy disagreements and discussion.

"It's when people get locked into thinking that they are right, especially in a couple relationship, there can be examples of tension and fighting," Arachtingi said.

Her office sees some families that have difficulty resolving political arguments. She said families should try to keep the discussions from being too emotional.

"The solution is to agree to disagree and to take the emotions out of it," she said.

Nicole Marshall, a Lawrence resident with politically divided sides of the family, takes a different approach.

"I try and keep quiet," she said.

Her parents are divorced. Her mother comes from a long line of Republicans. Her father attended Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

"Everyone is so passionate," the self-proclaimed liberal said of her political discussions with her family. "A lot of times I feel like nothing gets accomplished."

For Obama supporters Fairley and Donna McCain of Jefferson County, in addition to putting up with jokes about their surname, they deal with Fairley's Appalachian siblings, who are staunch Republicans.

"It's just one of those things that's just best left alone," said Fairley McCain, who himself ran for the County Commission earlier this year.

Allison Koehn, a junior at Kansas University from Galva, is the vice-president of the KU College Republicans.

Her father is a government teacher, and tends to fall on the left end of the political spectrum.

They'll have disagreements, but they are always civil, she said, and in the end, usually no one changes positions.

"Once we get done talking about it, it's over," Koehn said.

And, she admits, she becomes a little more understanding of an opposing view after hearing from someone she knows and trusts.

"I know it's coming from someone that helps me gauge and understand where the other side is coming from," Koehn said.

And no one has been wounded over Thanksgiving dinner.

"Not yet, anyway," she said, laughing.


KansasPerson 9 years, 6 months ago

'"'You're really a Democrat,'" Griffith said she'll tell her father these days, who she said supports abortion rights and women's rights.'Is it possible to be a conservative on economic matters and a liberal on social matters?

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