Because it’s the Trump era, you don’t want to talk about politics with your extended family.
But because it’s the Trump era, it’s hard to avoid talking politics.
Everything has become political and everything has become about President Trump. Don’t be surprised if your liberal relatives this Thanksgiving blame Trump for Charles Manson, or for Rand Paul’s neighbor attacking him, because mainstream left-leaning publications made exactly those charges this week.
Trump, you may hear over dinner on Thursday, is ruining sex, women’s golf, football, marriages, and everything else. As a result, even if you steer the conversation away from politics, somehow Trump will come up. Heck, your nephew Trevor’s phone will probably ding in the middle of the second pie course with an alert that Trump tweeted.
So avoiding Trump talk is not an option. Here’s one idea for my fellow conservatives out there: Find the few things Trump is doing well that no good liberal could object to.
Start with the tax plan. Not the whole tax plan — you’ll never convince your aunts Linda and Carol that reducing the corporate rate is anything other than a giveaway to big business. Also, don't try to correct the error the aunts believe that the bill would cut taxes for corporate jets. That’s an object of faith now on the Left.
But here’s something your liberal relatives should like: The tax bill would limit the deductibility of mortgage interest to the first $500,000 in debt. So a guy with a $3 million mansion (say, Tom Steyer or Al Franken) would get the same deduction, dollar-wise, under this plan as the person with the $600,000 home.
The mortgage-interest deduction is primarily a subsidy for real estate agents who use the deduction to talk buyers into buying more house than they could otherwise afford. Mortgage bankers and homebuilders also love the mortgage deduction. So Trump is curbing a special-interest tax break for the wealthy.
You could also point to Trump’s Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has spent plenty of time and effort getting more generic drugs on the market in many categories. October saw more generic drug approvals than any month in history. This means those expensive name-brand drugs now see low-cost generic competition sooner.
Trust me, Trevor will be pleased about sticking it to Big Pharma. Aunts Carol and Linda aren’t very price sensitive because of Medicare, but Trevor’s fiancé Kate (they don’t have a wedding date yet) should like the populist benefit of lower prices for everyone.
How’s it going so far? You may be running into the Trump Effect. Trump has this magic power to change the minds of people — not by persuading them, but by taking a stance, he drives so many people to the opposite stance. I’ve seen liberal writers go from calling Chicago “Chiraq” because of all the gun violence to declaring it Earth’s safest place because Trump warned of inner-city gun violence. I’ve even seen liberals complain about doubling the standard deduction — a massive tax cut for the working class and middle class worth zero dollars to the wealthy — once Trump got behind it.
Even Trump’s talk of opposing an AT&T-Time Warner merger is getting guff from the Left.
So it’s possible Kate will decide generic drugs are bad, actually, or that mansion tax deductions are good. But if your liberal relatives can think on their own, they might be with you so far. So here’s a daring one: Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Yes, they’ll hate him because he won’t pretend the Constitution protects abortion, and because they think that Supreme Court seat was stolen by Republican obstruction of Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland. So this is risky. But here you go:
One of Gorsuch’s most profound rulings came in Yellowbear v. Lampert. Andrew Yellowbear is a member of the Northern Arapahoe Tribe, and a federal prisoner. That is, he should be sympathetic to your relatives because he’s an ethnic and religious minority at the hands of law enforcement. And law enforcement has treated him badly — they wouldn’t give him access to the sweat lodge he wants for religious purposes, because escorting him there required extra resources.
But federal religious liberty laws require the state to accommodate Yellowbear, even at the state’s inconvenience. Yellowbear lost his court case, but then appealed. Gorsuch heard his appeal and ruled in his favor.
A powerful man using his power to protect a vulnerable religious and ethnic minority being misused by law enforcement. This ought to get a nod of approval from your liberal relatives.
If you’ve made it this far without war, quit while you’re ahead, and try to turn the evening away from politics. Just don’t turn on the NFL.