As midterm elections rapidly approach, politics are becoming the preferred topic at every dinner, class and party across the country. It can be difficult to have these discussions with people who disagree with you, but it can be even harder when it’s a family member. Having constant arguments with a parent, sibling or cousin that disagrees with you on everything can feel mentally and emotionally draining. Debating with family members can be a difficult balancing act between wanting to stand up views that you’re passionate about, and not wanting to damage a relationship that’s important to you. Here are a few steps that can be taken when discussing politics with your liberal family members:

Listen when they talk

Nothing is more irritating when you’re trying to have a political discussion than when the person you’re talking to keeps interrupting you and won’t listen to the points you’re making. If you want to make strides with your liberal family members, hear them out. You might still disagree with them after listening to them. You might realize that your views are more similar than you thought. Being heard is one of the easiest ways to feel validated. Offering your family members this respect will help them to in turn, respect your views.

Don’t be a “cold-hearted Republican”

This is especially important when you’re debating more emotion-fueled issues like abortion. Politics should be viewed from a factual standpoint, but we can’t get passed the fact that people have emotional reactions to the ways that politics affect us. If a family member you’re debating brings up something emotional, like the fact that they were sexually assaulted, when debating something like abortion, don’t immediately turn to giving them facts and statistics. Instead, say something along the lines of, “rape is a very sad situation and I don’t think anybody should have to go through something like that.” Then, proceed with providing them with facts. Your family member probably already knows that you’re well-versed in the facts of the issue you’re debating. Showing that you can think about the issue emotionally, as well as logically, will help them to understand your point of view.

When sharing articles, stay away from websites with heavy bias

I watched two of my close friends get in a debate on Facebook the other day. The first person shared an article from CNN. The other person commented that CNN was a liberally biased website. Then they provided an article of the opposing view from a website called Sharing an article from a website that clearly has conservative bias to a liberal who you’re trying to have a reasonable discussion with immediately undermines your argument. If you want them to respect your opinions, make sure the information you’re sharing with them is from a credible, respectable source.

Show them, don’t tell them, that you’re educated

It can be so frustrating when you’re having a debate and in order to establish credibility someone says to you “well I’m a doctor so I know what I’m talking about,” or “I’m an econ major so I wouldn’t expect you to understand what I’m saying.” To establish credibility with the family member you’re speaking with, prove to them that you’re educated on the topic, without telling them why. Instead of saying “well I’m a political science major so…” try, “one of my professors was talking about this issue in class the other day…” Trying to establish your credibility, simply by telling them that you know a lot about the subject matter makes you sound condescending, not educated.

Admit when you don’t know the answer to something

Sometimes, an argument a family member has against you will stump you. Instead of making up an answer or getting angry at them, admit that you don’t know. There is nothing more humble-sounding or intellectually respectable than when a person you’re debating with says “I’m actually not sure about that. Let me read up on what you just said and I’ll get back to you.” Then, follow through. If they stumped you, read as much as you can about the subject. Ask a professor or someone else who knows more than you about the subject, form an opinion based off of what you learn and bring the information back to them. “I looked into what you said about X. Now that I know more about it, here’s how I feel…”

Don’t try to “score points”

This is your family member. They are not your speech and debate opponent. There’s no prize for being right. Trying to “beat” your family member in a political debate will only upset them. It might even drive a wedge between the two of you. Don’t try to attack and diminish their arguments. Hear them out. Talk to them with the end goal of respecting each other more. You never know, this might open their mind to conservatism.

Georgia G

Georgia Gallagher graduated from the University of Alabama in the summer of 2019 where she majored in Journalism and Political Science. She is currently working as a Cast Member at  Walt Disney World in Florida. In her free time she can be found advocating for pro-life policies and working with single or low-income mothers. She often says that her planner is second only to her Bible and she’s never caught without a cup of coffee in her hand.