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#TurkeyTalkGuide: Your Guide To Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner This Year

Just weeks after one of the most contentious presidential elections in recent history, we’ll be sitting down with our family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner. Undoubtedly, politics will come up. We wanted to make sure that you’re going into Turkey Day feeling confident and proud of all of our country’s progressive victories over the past few years. So here’s your Thanksgiving primer, divided by topic.


Your dad says: “What are these people doing wasting their time? It’s over!”

You say: “A lot of people are upset right now. So many have been targeted by Donald Trump’s campaign: women, Latinos, people with disabilities, black people, people of non-Christian faiths…a lot of people are concerned that someone’s going to be leading our country who not only doesn’t represent them, but doesn’t value them. That hurts.”

Health Care

Your brother says: “Obamacare is junk! And the rising prices proves it!”

You say: Rising prices are frustrating. But if the Affordable Care Act were overturned, 20 million Americans would lose access to healthcare. That would be disastrous. Obamacare is also responsible for many of the provisions people now take for granted, like young people being able to be covered on their parents’ insurance until age 26 and no discrimination for individuals with preexisting conditions.”


Your uncle says: “Well, why should we let these illegals into the country? They should come legally or face the consequences!”

You say: “These hardworking people are undocumented because of our broken immigration system, forcing many individuals who are fleeing horrifying situations in their own countries to come to U.S. as undocumented immigrants. Remember, that’s how this country was founded in the first place. I know it can seem scary, but American immigrants are already contributing tremendously to our economy as workers, business owners, and tax payers. In fact, immigration reform with a path to legalization would add $1.4 trillion to our GDP over the next 10 years. A policy of mass deportation would reduce our GDP by $4.7 trillion over the same time period.”

Reproductive Rights

Your aunt says: “Well, Donald Trump wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and defund Planned Parenthood, that’s good because I don’t think anyone should get abortions.”

You say: “I hear you. Choosing to terminate a pregnancy is the hardest decision a person could have to make, and no one takes that decision lightly. But Planned Parenthood is the world’s leading provider sex education and birth control—and cutting access to that would lead to more unplanned pregnancies and more abortions. And Roe v. Wade is an important way in which we have made sure women have a constitutional right to make their own health care decision. Overturning this Supreme Court decision would unfairly leave it up to state governments to decide what a woman can and can’t do with her own body.”

Student Loans

Your sister says: “Donald Trump is going to privatize my student loans and cap repayment of my loans to 12.5% of my income. He also might get rid of the Department of Education. That honestly sounds like I’ll be saving money and paying less in monthly loan payments.”

You say: “Getting rid of the Department of Education means banks would be in charge of your loans instead. They could manipulate your interest rates upward to guarantee their profits. The Obama administration took banks out of the business of student loans and guess what? We saved billions of dollars and used the money to issue more Pell Grants. Also, Obama’s Income Based Repayment plan caps repayment at 10%, which means you’ll pay much more over the lifetime of your repayment period under Trump and could mean the difference between a tank gas each month or not.”

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Your cousin says: “I heard Donald Trump is going to pay students back for attending his university. Why should he be on the hook for his students not doing well? That seems unfair.”

You say: “Well, it wasn’t actually a university. Donald Trump featured himself in ads where he made it seem like people that enrolled in his “university” would learn from professors handpicked by Trump and that they would benefit from learning Trump’s personal real estate strategies. None of this actually happened and documents admitted in court later revealed that Trump University salesmen were actually instructed to use manipulative and misrepresentative language to suck in vulnerable students, such as single mothers and the elderly. Also, the students defrauded by his scam university won’t be getting more than half of what they lost to his fake university.”

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Your niece says: “Black Lives Matter? More like All Lives Matter!”

You say: “Yes, all lives do matter — but African Americans are disproprotionately disadvantaged by police brutality. You wouldn’t walk up to your friend’s grandma’s funeral and say “Hey! My grandma’s dead too! Why aren’t we talking about that?” While unfortunate that your hypothetical grandma may also be dead, it’s only right that your friend’s grandma’s funeral is only about her. Black Lives Matter is not saying all lives don’t matter, just as your friend’s grandma’s funeral is not saying your grandma’s death doesn’t matter.”

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Your mom says: “What’s really changed with our stance on climate change? The earth is still getting warmer.”

You say: “We took unprecedented action on combating climate change by signing the Paris Agreement. The United States worked together with other major carbon dioxide emitters like China to make real progress on slowing down global warming before it’s too late.”

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Your dad says: “We saw many mass shootings occur during President Obama’s years. Clearly the United States is just getting more dangerous, not safer.”

You say: “It’s true that gun violence continues to wreak havoc on communities throughout the United States. But we have made progress. Earlier this year, President Obama signed 23 executive actions to fight gun violence, and there’s been major reform on the state level, as well–including several successful ballot measures that voters chose in this election.”

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Your brother-in-law says: “Nothing has changed with the criminal justice system.”

You say: “So much has changed. President Obama has granted clemency to more Americans than the past six presidents combined. He banned solitary confinement for juveniles. He launched the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to change the relationship between law enforcement officials and the communites they serve. And the administration has decided to phase out its use of federal private prisons. To quote Vice President Biden, that’s a big f****** deal.”

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You nephew says: “Obama wasn’t so great! Name 3 things he’s done that were actually good.”

Take your pick:

  1. Created a public market for health care
  2. Protected Planned Parenthood
  3. Directed the Department of Justice away from using private prisons
  4. Signing the Paris Agreement to combat climate change
  5. Acknowledged transgender people as human beings
  6. First president to mention gay individuals in the State of the Union
  7. Halved unemployment
  8. Passed executive actions to prevent gun violence
  9. Restored diplomatic ties with Cuba
  10. Increased funding for national parks
  11. Stopped Iran from creating nuclear weapons with the Iran Deal
  12. Authorized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden
  13. Urged states to raise the minimum wage
  14. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
  15. Created 15 million jobs to help get us out of the Great Recession

Liana Bishop is the Senior Digital Communications and Multimedia Associate for Generation Progress.

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