The publication of a rash of stories about how to deal with a conservative relative during Thanksgiving dinner has become something of an annual tradition, but this year’s iteration requires something a bit more… thorough.
Many families will be celebrating the holiday together for the first time in several years, and while the country’s political and social environments were plenty fraught in late 2019, today the United States is in the midst of a civil war, torn apart by greed, misinformation, hatred, and malicious actors exploiting them all. Instead of a mass populist uprising against corporations and con artists, we’re stuck fighting over basic facts and breathtakingly stupid disputes. This is all by design.
Endless right-wing media repetition and Facebook’s reckless amplification have injected basic political misinformation and batshit conspiracy theories into the heart of our national discourse. For some, that has led to believing in traditional right-wing positions, and more recently, it has fostered demented mass paranoias amongst true believes.
Changing anyone’s worldview over a late afternoon meal is almost impossible, but some good information shared in compelling formats, especially when paired with smart talking points, could guide help someone toward a first step on the path back to reality. And at the very least, having smart answers and winning a rhetorical throw down is immensely satisfying.
With that in mind, enjoy these resources on Thanksgiving, over the holiday season, and really any other time you want to shake people out of their stupors:
Inflation is Biden’s fault!
There’s no one single thing responsible for the modest price inflation we’re experiencing right now, but there are a few main culprits, led by a supply chain breakdown, which has its own list of contributing factors. They include:
- The death of American manufacturing, which means most products start out half a world away;
- The shipping monopolies that clog ports with overly massive freights, delaying product arrivals and creating further scarcity;
- And outright corporate greed. My colleagues at More Perfect Union just released this masterful video about how profit-squeezing executives are directly driving up prices:
Actually, show this to everyone at dinner — lots of independent voters and Democrats are also very concerned about inflation and it’s always good to hold big corporations to account. Email it to people, too.
Democrats are socialists!
I like to immediately disarm people pressing this specious argument by saying “I wish!” It may shock some people from time to time, but it also lets them know that we’re both dissatisfied with the exploitative ruling class, which is the trait that binds us all together. If someone thinks that you’re a shill for a party instead of driven by your own personal values, you’ve already lost the conversation.
This will allow you to pull a deft reversal and discuss all the ways that the Democratic Party has actively rejected anything resembling democratic socialism these last 40 years. The negotiations over the Build Back Better Act alone offer all the specific evidence you’ll need. The pared back iteration of the bill will still be a major, major victory in so many ways, but it also embraces and defers to the private market in almost all policy provisions that remain, which weakened some items and flat-out killed others.
Thus far, Democrats have:
- Eliminated free tuition to government-run community colleges
- Severely limited government price negotiations with private pharmaceutical companies
- Cut the tax increases that targeted the wealthiest Americans
- Provided tax cuts to wealthy homeowners
- Changed the proposed Medicaid expansion into a subsidy for private markethealth insurance
- Cut out the biggest penalties to polluting energy companies
There will likely be more concessions to come, too. It brings me no pleasure to report this, but perhaps the silver lining will be that their selling out to corporate interests will convince your weird uncle that they aren’t socialists.
Admittedly, if Democratic leaders did rig elections, the centrists in the party really might opt to get wiped out in many states and win themselves a bare majority in Congress so that a couple of narcissists can threaten to sink entire legislation on behalf of pharmaceutical and fossil fuel lobbyists (see above) or block a crucial regulatory nominee on behalf of banking institutions.
That said, unless you’ve disarmed the socialism boogeyman, you may be best off rattling off some of these audits that proved there was no Democratic or Deep State election intervention:
- Arizona’s disastrous “audit” by Cyber Ninjas reaffirmed Biden’s victory in the state
- Wisconsin’s audit proved there was no election interference
- Georgia’s first-ever audit of paper ballots upheld the election results there, too
If that’s not enough to prove that the election wasn’t rigged, you may well be in a special situation:
Off the Deep End
If you find yourself spending Thanksgiving with someone that has bought into the QAnon cult, you should do your very best to avoid any contact or shared air, because there’s little chance that they’re vaccinated. But should you still be able to hear their nonsense from afar and are unable to suppress the burning urge to thr facts their way, here are some words of wisdom sent over this week by Mike Rothschild, a leading expert on QAnon and far-right conspiracies and the author of The Storm Is Upon Us, the acclaimed book that documents their hostile takeover of American culture:
Everything really comes back to that nexus of the stolen election and COVID-19. You wouldn’t think that vaccine refusal and not believing the 2020 election was real wouldn’t mix together, but they really do — it’s all about special, secret knowledge; not trusting experts and the media; and thinking you’re in a cool club that knows things that the rest of us sheep don’t. So while those two movements have a ton of offshoots, they really all come back to the same thing. It’s hard to think of any conspiracy theories that have really taken off that don’t come back to one or both of those things.
Perhaps the most batshit QAnon theory is that JFK, Jr. and a few other very dead celebrities are still alive and will soon reveal themselves to the world. I honestly can’t get much of a handle on it myself, so Rothschild sent over some links and gave us a brief rundown:
The very short explanation is that a QAnon believer and conspiracy theorist named Michael Protzman grew himself a numerology cult on Telegram, and somehow convinced some of them that John F. Kennedy, JFK Jr., Michael Jackson, and a bunch of other deceased celebrities would return to the public eye in Dallas in early November. And all of it was based on a very simple numerology that takes the numerical value of letters and adds it up into numbers, and those numbers are supposed to mean something.
It’s very much a cult, with behavior and thought control, members burning through money they don’t have, and cutting themselves off from their families. My hope at this point is that these people just go home after they realize they’re being exploited. But many have been there for weeks, and don’t seem to want to leave.
Rothschild has a great way of humanizing — but not sympathizing with — QAnon members as people who are desperately looking for meaning in life and have been hoodwinked by outrageously false prophets. That’s not to say they weren’t also assholes — most were Trump supporters from the jump — but there’s a difference between liking the racist Build the Wall guy and camping out on a bridge in Dallas absolutely convinced that they have the inside track on JFK Jr.’s surprise comeback.
It’s unbelievably selfish to not get vaccinated, but again, between the amplification efforts of right-wing media and half the Republican Party, vaccine misinformation has been injected deep into the American discourse. The GOP is overseeing a genocide and deserve total blame for the ongoing mass deaths in this country, but Democrats have not done a great job at pushing back against the misinformation and false science that seduces the people “doing their own research.”
A lot of the skepticism comes from the fact that the Covid-19 vaccines were developed so quickly and seem so unprecedented, but the reality is that they were built on existing technology that was on the verge of revolutionizing medicine even before the pandemic broke out. The pushback from Democrats has mostly focused on the success rate of the vaccine, and by leaving out any explanation of how the science works, they’re failing to address people’s fears about perceived long-term risks.
This video is very helpful in that regard:
I’d also suggest you go over some of the things that people are thoughtlessly putting in their bodies both today and everyday — the chemicals in our food, the pollution in our tap water and air, whatever the hell it is they put in our energy drinks, etc. Most of that stuff has not been approved by the FDA or CDC!
P.S. This is from a story in my newsletter, Progressives Everywhere, which aims to counterbalance the corporate media and right-wing social media that focuses on gossip and uneducated hot takes instead of calling out corrupt politicians, reporting on the issues that really matter, and working to explain how power really works. There’s a reason why these lies have festered and grown.
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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.