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Tom Purcell: Be thankful if you don't take a drumstick to the noggin

| Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, 7:57 p.m.

“Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday of the year. Now I can't wait for it to be over.”

“Your sentiments reflect the findings of a new working paper by M. Keith Chen of UCLA and Ryne Rohla of Washington State University. In these turbulent times, more ‘politically divided' families are cutting their Thanksgiving celebrations short.”

“You got that right. God only knows what may happen this year when my progressive liberal Democrat nieces discover they're sitting next to a cousin or uncle who is a conservative Republican.”

“That's regrettable and just not necessary. Our country is far from perfect, but Thanksgiving is about coming together to give thanks for our considerable bounty.”

“My uncle's girlfriend doesn't see it that way. Last year, when she found out I supported Trump's efforts to dismantle Obama's many economy-killing executive orders, she hit me in the noggin with a drumstick!”

“Ouch. That's no good.”

“Yeah, well, this year I'm terrified she might find out I favor Republican efforts to simplify and lower taxes, as I think it is the best way to unshackle the economy, create more jobs and benefit all Americans!”

“Well, maybe you should try to explain your point of view to her in a calm, objective manner, at the same time you try to understand her point of view. I'll bet you and she agree on more things than either of you are aware.”

“Why would you think that?”

“Ken Stern, former CEO of National Public Radio, recently published a book about the divide between red and blue America. It's called ‘Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right.' He wrote about it in the New York Post.”

“Go on.”

“Well, Stern, who lives and works in an overwhelmingly Democrat area, spent a year with red-state voters where they live, work and pray. ‘I embedded myself with the other side, standing in pit row at a NASCAR race, hanging out at Tea Party meetings and sitting in on Steve Bannon's radio show,' Stern writes.”

“As the former NPR CEO, he surely is from the ‘other side.' What did he discover?”

“He writes this: ‘I found an America far different from the one depicted in the press and imagined by presidents (‘cling to guns or religion') and presidential candidates (‘basket of deplorables') alike.'”

“Well, that's obvious to those of us who live in ‘flyover country.'”

“He discovered some things about America's major media that you probably agree with, too. He cited a Pew Research Center poll that found ‘liberals outnumber conservatives in the media by some 5 to 1, and said that it ‘comports with my own anecdotal experience at National Public Radio.'”

“No shocker there.”

“Stern further writes that ‘when you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be.'”

“I couldn't agree more. We call that media bias. But what does this have to do with Thanksgiving?”

“Look, Stern discovered that people in red states are just as intelligent and nuanced as people in blue states or anywhere else. He gives one example about college-age evangelicals who are intensely interested in helping refugees find racial equity, not keeping refugees out, as he expected they might. He says conservatives are being stereotyped and that Americans both red and blue have much more in common than each side thinks. So maybe you can talk about that during Thanksgiving this year.”

“I'll give it a try, but I'm going to hide the drumsticks before I do.”

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, lives in Library. His books include “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery. Visit him on the web at TomPurcell.com. Email him at: Tom@TomPurcell.com.

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