This Spring, DILEMMA posted a note asking how people felt about talking politics in social situations. I started the post by describing a dinner party I attended years ago in Chicago, which ended in awkward silence after two guests (1 Democrat and 1 Republican) got aggressive over their differences and let themselves and their hosts down by shouting at each other. At the time I wrote the post, I was aware that tempers were heating up around dinner tables in the UK whenever the upcoming EU referendum was being debated, but I hadn’t imagined the debate-carnage that followed the result, nor that friends, colleagues and families would fall out over the issue to the extent that seems to have been the case.
And then lately, things have gone the other way. When I go out now, I’ve noticed that the subject of politics is largely avoided (except when I’m in a setting where everybody present is safe in the knowledge that they’re more or less on the same side of the argument). Equally, I’ve spoken to a number of people who were very vocal in the weeks following the referendum who now say they avoid the subject entirely for fear of confrontation.
Are these really going to be our options? Fight or abstinence? Or is there a way that we can re-educate ourselves to exchange opinions in a mutually respectful manner?
Related post: Brexit – the emotional fall-out