How to Talk to Someone Who Disagrees with You

Feb 7, 2018

Words by Alexander Kamczyc

The sound of a beer cracks open.

“Play that song again!”

My dad is hollering from the pool room over to where I sit in the adjacent room, getting ready to replay the song that was blaring through the speakers. The song was “Talk to Me,” by Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, a band my siblings and I grew up listening to because of him.

It was Thanksgiving, and almost all of my family had either filed out or began to file out. It was me, my two older brothers, cousins, two of my uncles and my old man, all standing around drinking and laughing. At this point in time everyone was mostly drunk (save for me who only had a few shots), playing a form of pool in our basement.

There’s a running joke in our family: How long can we go until my dad started talking politics with the rest of the family? The time to beat is now 20 minutes, a new world record.

“Liberals are screwing you guys over.”

“The media would have never done that if Obama was in office.”

“Trump is actually doing a good job in office.”

There’s also a new running joke in the family: How long could I go without starting an argument with him about politics?  

The time to beat is nine hours — we started our party at 4 p.m.

During the holidays, you may have seen articles sprout up titled: “How to Talk to Your Family about Politics,” “How to Talk about Trump with Your Family,” “How to Avoid …,” so on and so forth. I never understood this sentiment.  

Why are these articles necessary? In most cases, those people are still bound by blood to you. Some of those people have even been around you since you were born.

Why should they be seen as the villain? Because their politics don’t agree with yours?

The New York Times published an article on November 25 of last year about a Midwestern man and Nazi sympathizer. It caught flak because it made him seem normal, as if he wasn’t a human being. Why?

OK, I’ll concede. That’s an extreme example of what I’m talking about. The guy is still a freaking Nazi. My point is: There’s more to someone than just their political beliefs.

I have picked a fight with my dad over political ideals on everything from Trump to who caused the housing collapse of 2008. So far, he has only conceded during one argument, and it wasn’t because he thought I was right. He was just tired and wanted to go home.

For the most part, aside from Roy Moore, we haven’t agreed on a single political stance for a while. I get the typical insult that more Republicans spew out:

“Typical libtard.”

“I’m just playing devil’s advocate.”  

Aside from that statement, I keep my comments to myself. I know that in today’s political landscape, things are more divided than ever between Democrats and Republicans. Despite this, I try to look through the veil of stubborn ignorance that we both have over our beliefs. After all, this is still the man that would pick me up and carry me to bed if I fell asleep during a long road trip. This is still the man who taught me how to read, write and ride a bike (albeit painstakingly).

Our arguments are long and loud, the Kamczyc way; there are never any clear victors. It goes like this for a while and then we go get food or do chores around the house or we go back to watching TV.  

I don’t resent him for his beliefs, nor do I resent the people who will inevitably disagree with me in the future. It’s life, and I can’t stop that from happening, nor do I want that to happen because when the exchange of ideas is only one way, it’s no longer an exchange.

In this series of columns, I plan on discussing controversial topics going on today like DACA, #MeToo, etc. and explain why I am for or against it every other week. I will also be providing sources of where I get all my information so you, the reader, may base your own opinions on what I talk about. Of course, we may bicker, argue, fight over our disagreements.

That doesn’t mean we can’t discuss them, and I look forward to it.