Politics

November 20, 2012

Turkey, pie and politics? T-Day family friction

The Associated Press

Ah, Thanksgiving. A little turkey, some cranberry mold, maybe apple pie with ice cream, some football on TV. Getting together with the cousins. Catching up beside the fire. Togetherness.

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Jake Loesch and his grandmother, Bunny Arseneau pose outside Bunny's home where they replaced the Thanksgiving ornament with one for Christmas on the front door, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 in Crystal, Minn. The issue dividing the family at the Thanksgiving table will be gay marriage. Although Arceneau disagreed with her grandson who was deputy communications director for Minnesotans United for All Familes which opposed Minnesota's gay marriage amendment, she congratulated her grandson on his stance. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, Brian Malone, of Duxbury Mass., speaks about the recent presidential election, while gathered with his extended family including his wife Rebecca Malone, left, and brother-in-law Andrew Marshall, right, of Quincy Mass., during dinner at his in-law's house in Hingham, Mass., where politics is a frequent, and divisive topic of conversation. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

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On second thought: Scratch that. What were we thinking? This was an election year.

"The Thanksgiving table will be a battleground," says Andrew Marshall, 34, of Quincy, Mass.

Like many extended families across the country, Marshall's includes Democrats and Republicans, conservatives, liberals and independents. And so, like many families that count both red and blue voters in their ranks, they're expecting fireworks. Things had already gotten so bad on Facebook, the family had to ban political banter.

"It was getting brutal," says Marshall.

And now, it will all play out in person. In this family, the older generation is more liberal, the younger more conservative. So Andrew, a conservative, particularly expects friction with his aunt, Anne Brennan, 57. "She firmly believes in what she believes in, and we'll go head to head with it," he says.

As for Brennan, she's looking on the bright side: the wine they'll drink. "You always bring a good bottle," she told Andrew at a family dinner a few days ago — perhaps softening him up for the holiday. No dice. "What are you talking about?" Andrew replied. "The wine just amplifies it."

But the Marshalls seem to be relishing the occasion. Not so the Davidson family in Alabama.

In fact, things have gotten so tense over politics between Brian Davidson, a 40-year-old attorney in Helena, and his father, 130 miles away in Russellville, that they've changed plans, forgoing their usual gathering.

"We're not even going," says Brian, who voted for Barack Obama, and describes his father as "a little to the right of Glenn Beck." Better to skip this one, he says, than suffer "a non-recoverable blowup."

Davidson, a Boy Scout leader and the father of two school-age sons, once was firmly conservative, even serving as an officer in the Young Republicans Club at the University of North Alabama. His parents — particularly Dad — always taught him and his brother to think for themselves, he says.

And so he did. Davidson eventually realized he no longer fit in with the Republican Party, which he saw as moving rightward, and now considers himself a political moderate with liberal positions on issues like gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana — he supports both — and conservative positions on foreign and fiscal policies.

Each Thanksgiving, Davidson typically loads up his family and makes the 130-mile drive to his parents' house. This year, Davidson will take the kids to wife Kim's family instead, but even that could be tricky: They are conservative as well. So Brian and Kim will try to avoid any topics that could lead, they say, to "an Obama rant" around the table.

"Anything can cause it," Brian says. "We're just going to suck it up."

For some families, it's not necessarily the presidential race that divided them. The Cox family in Colorado has long been split over the legalization of marijuana — ever since Diane Cox first caught her son, David, trying to smoke the drug when he was 14.

David, now 31 and a peach farmer in Palisade, Colo., has volunteered for years on efforts to legalize marijuana. Diane, meanwhile, has spearheaded several successful protests to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in nearby towns — even waving "BAN THE POT SHOPS" signs on the side of the road.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, Anne Brennan, center, of Hingham Mass., listens to her sister, Linda Marshall, rear, and brother-in-law Steve Marshall, right, discuss the recent presidential election as the family gathers for dinner in Hingham and where politics are a frequent, and divisive topic of conversation. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

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In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, Anne Brennan, right, of Hingham Mass., speaks as, from left, brother-in-law Steve Marshall, of Hingham, niece Rebecca Malone, and her husband Brian Malone, both of Duxbury, Mass., and nephew Andrew Marshall, of Quincy, Mass., are gathered for dinner in Hingham, Mass., where politics are a frequent, and divisive topic of conversation. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

 


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