The fallout from the nastiest presidential election in decades is set to spoil a lot of Thanksgiving dinners. All over the U.S., friends and relatives who found themselves on opposite sides of the political divide are now wondering if they can sit across the table from one another and talk turkey. Some have decided that they can’t, that the wounds are still too raw. Nancy Sundin, a social worker in Spokane, told The New York Times that she had called off Thanksgiving with her Donald Trump–supporting mother and brother after arguing with them over the Republican’s immigration policies. Manhattan resident Leigh Anne O’Connor received a phone call soon after Election Day from her dad, who had been criticized on Facebook by O’Connor’s liberal daughter over his vote for Trump. “He said he is not coming for Thanksgiving,” O’Connor told the Associated Press. “I cried when we hung up.”
These schisms aren’t just sad for the families involved—they’re another sign of the estrangement that’s tearing at the nation’s social fabric. For decades, Americans have been steadily segregating themselves into like-minded communities: Liberals live near and socialize with fellow liberals, gun owners with gun owners, evangelicals with evangelicals. This clustering is echoed online. The algorithms that power Facebook, where 44 percent of Americans get their news, ensure that we’re only presented with stories and opinions from friends, family, and news outlets that confirm our pre-existing biases—including fake news. (See Technology.) But what if we all looked at Thanksgiving as an opportunity to deescalate, and renew our bonds with family members and friends who might not share our political convictions? Some connections are deeper than politics. If Native Americans and the English settlers invading their country could enjoy a meal together despite their mutual suspicion, surely you can avoid tossing partisan insults at your Trumpist uncle or Clintonite niece in between mouthfuls of pumpkin pie.