Thanksgiving Food Fight: How to avoid politics at the table

The Nation's political divide could seep into holiday dinners, hard feeling linger

Donald Trump, left, and Hillary Clinton (Nexstar Photo)
Donald Trump, left, and Hillary Clinton (Nexstar Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Deborah Whiting has a long list of guests coming to her Thanksgiving dinner this year. But, there is one person who may broach a political table topic and spoil the meal.

“Your husband,” said Karen Dionne, Whiting’s sister. After an 18-month heated election cycle, Whiting said she is putting her foot down. No politics at the table this year.

“He’s been warned to keep it quiet,” Whiting said. “It’s supposed to be a nice day. We’re supposed to enjoy each other’s company”

Whiting is not alone and her situation is not unique. Nationwide voters have reported taking hiatuses from fervent friends, passionate parents and sour siblings.

“I have even seen one patient that said she stopped talking to her sister,” said Dr. Joanne Sotelo, a psychiatrist with Baylor Scott and White. Sotelo said she has seen a slight uptick in the number of patients asking for ways to cope this holiday.

She gave KXAN News a few easy tips.

First, know who is on the guest list and prepare ahead.

“You know what family members you’re going to see,” Sotelo said. “You might know their political views and then you need to know how much you want to get involved or not.”

Step two: avoid the worst offender.

“If you know that person is: ‘his way or the highway,'” she said. “Then, don’t sit next to them.”

And if all else fails, create an escape route fast.

“Say, ‘I have to go check on the turkey,’ or  ‘I’m going to wash the dishes,'” said Sotelo.

Joe and Olga Archuleta are from New Mexico. They have an invitation to their daughter’s house this year. She was a strong Hillary Clinton supporter; and, encouraged her parents to vote for the former secretary of state.

“She was pushing us real hard to understand her reasoning and why we should vote for Mrs. Clinton,” said Joe. The Archuleta’s didn’t support either candidate.

So this year, to keep the peace and the meal a happy one, the couple plans to focus on one topic. “Go Cowboys,” said Olga.

People looking to reconnect with family and friends cut off during the election cycle, can mend those relationships, Sotelo said. She said one way to get back together: find a common area of interest and reach out to them in a kind way. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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