Philip Galanes on Navigating Politics

Thursday, October 25, 2012

'I Promise to Vote' pins. (Neighborhood Centers Inc./flickr)

If arguing about politics isn't your favorite past time, this time of year can be especially difficult. It can be hard to know how to remain polite—or know how and when to change the subject—when political debates arise with friends, family, roommates, co-workers, and anyone you may not see eye to eye with. Expert Philip Galanes is here to give some advice! He's the New York Times Social Q’s columnist and author of Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today.

Do you need advice on navigating political disagreements and debates in your life? Leave a question for Philip Galanes!


Philip Galanes

Comments [16]

Jessie Henshaw from Way Uptown

What are the reasons for such close races, for years and years now?

Is it possible that political consultants are so very good at attacking any issues giving one or another candidate an advantage, that the electorate is left without all the distinguishing differences being erased?

Oct. 25 2012 01:34 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ Marjorie from NYC

A participant in a class/discussion group is not the church. While it's not appropriate to bring up politics in this setting, it doesn't violate the IRS' prohibition against politicking by churches. This is completely different from preaching from the pulpit about who the people should vote for.

Oct. 25 2012 12:50 PM
The Truth from Becky

Walk away mid conversation, rude but effective!

Oct. 25 2012 12:46 PM

I consider myself open-minded when it comes to talking to folks with different viewpoints, but my question for Philip is: how do I tactfully handle a conversation with someone who, while they agree 100% with my point of view, is overzealous to the point it makes me uncomfortable?

Oct. 25 2012 12:42 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

I find it amazing how many people assume, whatever political philosophy they're spouting, that the rest of the group agrees with them.

Most of us are uncomfortable disputing crazy positions of others in a social setting.

Oct. 25 2012 12:35 PM
Marjorie from NYC

Anyone can contact Americans United for the Separation of Church and State if politically coercive or inappropriate messaging occurs in a place of worship. This is grounds for revocation of their tax exempt status.

Oct. 25 2012 12:34 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Re: the lady calling about politics being discussed at bible/religious studies.

It is definitely the place of the person leading the class/discussion to put a stop to off-topic discussions. And, yes, politics is absolutely off topic (and off-putting).

Oct. 25 2012 12:32 PM
Meaghan Shawcross from Croton on Hudson, NY

I have a number of relatives who have very strong opposing views to mine. I have found the best way to avoid a major fight is to say "If your candidate wins, I certainly hope you're right", not in a snarky way, but a genuinely positive way.

Oct. 25 2012 12:27 PM
John from Blue NJ

What I find hard about talking politics in these situations is that the other side has a totally different set of information. I don't watch Fox News. It is all lies as far as I am concerned. But those who do come up with stuff that just seems ot be from another universe.

Oct. 25 2012 12:20 PM
Dave from Brooklyn

While I agree that attempting to manipulate someone's personal feelings towards another is rather distasteful, at the same time the occurrence in this country of people voting against their own interests or those of their loved ones-- often ignorantly, one would presume–- is rampant. Opening people's eyes to that is not an entirely bad thing.

Oct. 25 2012 12:18 PM
Janet from Manhattan

In addition to being coercive and, to say the least, politically incorrect, isn't it ILLEGAL to tell employess to vote for "X" or get fired???

Oct. 25 2012 12:17 PM
mr nyc

We have lots of Republican and Democratica family members and we never get into political discussions since a) we realize we'll never change each other's minds and b) being a strong family is more important than the election of the day. Also, I can't choose my family so I don't want to alienate them.

When it comes to friends, however, it would be difficult for me to be good friends with people who don't more or less share my political persuasion. These days politics comes down to values more than policies and I couldn't be friends who, again, doesn't more or less share my values.

Oct. 25 2012 12:15 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I hate to say it, but some of the tales Mr. Galanes is telling make us sound like a third world dictatorship. Maybe we should have Jimmy Carter monitoring our elections...

Oct. 25 2012 12:11 PM
Not A Fan

Here is the liberal philosophy on how to talk politics without burning bridges:

"Agree with my liberal philosophy or be mocked and ridiculed."

Oct. 25 2012 12:04 PM
Jenna from UES

Lenny, you must not get out of the bubble that often. Horse shoes are still very popular in the "fly overs"

Oct. 25 2012 11:17 AM
Daniel from Carroll Gardens

I have a cousin in Ohio who just turned 18 this year, which means his vote this year alone has more electoral weight than the sum of all votes I'll cast in my life. I feel like, as an Obama supporter, my energy would be much better spent talking to him about Obama than kvetching with like-minded Brooklynites, although given his age we've never talked politics and I don't know how to start without sounding preachy. Any advice?

Oct. 25 2012 12:00 AM

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