CINCINNATI (AP) – Some people heading to Thanksgiving gatherings predict itâ€™s not just the turkey that will get roasted.
Already polarized over Republican Donald Trumpâ€™s presidency, Americans are deeply split on a looming historic impeachment. Many families reflect the nationâ€™s divisions, setting up heated holiday debates in households with a taste for politics.
Bryan Wright, of Cincinnati, said â€œimpeachment will definitely come upâ€ as a divisive topic at his extended familyâ€™s holiday meal. With a family representing a range of viewpoints including Trump supporters, he and his mother have been texting about the impeachment debate they expect.
â€œWe would openly talk about that … but we have different ways of coming at it,â€ he said.
Wright is a longtime advocate of welcoming immigrants and helps lead Cincinnatiâ€™s efforts, something that relatives who support Trumpâ€™s push for a border wall with Mexico chalk up to his â€œliberal brainwashing,â€ he said.
Wright – whose wife, University of Cincinnati psychology professor Farrah Jacquez, is of Mexican descent – will gather with her family and his relatives at his parentsâ€™ home in Florence, Kentucky, after hosting two recent Thanksgivings.
That included 2016, right after Trumpâ€™s hard-fought election, when there was family drama over whether Trump-backing relatives from Tennessee would be willing to come to his house. They did but some voiced â€œsome pretty awful views on immigrants and immigration,â€ he said.
Alex Triantafilou, an attorney and chairman of Hamilton Countyâ€™s Republican Party, also expects impeachment to be on the table at the holiday feast hosted by an older brother. While the swing state of Ohio has been trending Republican, Democrats have turned the GOP tide in his county.
Triantafilou, who is critical of the Democratic-led impeachment proceedings, said that his family backs Trump for the most part but that more viewpoints have been added as it has grown with new in-laws and friends.
â€œIf somebody comes in and theyâ€™re not on the Trump train, so to speak, they get a little bit of an airing,â€ he said, adding that itâ€™s â€œusually in fun.â€
But sometimes it goes past fun.
Wright recalls Thanksgivings with offensive comments that strained relations. Mindy Nagel, a physical therapist with liberal views, has unfriended her conservative brother on Facebook over his political posts and said sheâ€™ll be â€œsurroundedâ€ by people who disagree with her politically at her in-lawsâ€™ Thanksgiving.
â€œPolitics is the elephant in the room,â€ she said. Her hosts will probably turn off conservative Fox News while sheâ€™s there, Nagel said, but there will likely be someone who â€œtries to stir the potâ€ by raising Trump and impeachment with her.
Elaine Swann, a Los Angeles-based etiquette coach, advises hosts to have a plan to deal with polarizing discussions amid â€œall this talk about impeachmentâ€ in the air, along with the aromas of oyster dressing and freshly baked pumpkin pies.
â€œI do think itâ€™s healthy for people to express themselves and to have those conversations,â€ said Swann, who will host her familyâ€™s Thanksgiving. â€œMy advice is to take a route to allow some sort of platform, but with guidelines.â€
One tactic: sequester the debates. Sheâ€™ll have a room away from the dining table stocked with snacks for people who want to talk politics. She also suggests designating a calm family member as a combination moderator-peacekeeper.
Triantafilou, a former judge, said that role often falls to him, although he wouldnâ€™t mind taking a break from politics for the day.
â€œMy preference would be to not have the conversations at Thanksgiving,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™d rather watch football and leave politics behind.â€
Swann, who will host around 30 people, said that if guests start tearing into one another like drumsticks, â€œmake sure that in your arsenal as a host you have some family-building activity to get everybody out of it.â€
Games can be a good diversion or, Swann suggested, invite people to bring family photos to share that will stir warm memories.
If the debate starts getting out of hand Thursday, Wright said, someone will probably defuse things by asking: â€œHow about those Bengals?â€
Cincinnatiâ€™s hapless pro football team is winless this season.
The bottom line, Swann said, is cherishing the time together.
â€œAlthough we may not agree politically, the one thing we are is family,â€ she said. â€œThe big takeaway that I encourage everyone to have is that love for family, because tomorrow is not promised to us, and you never know who is going to wake up the next day and who is not.â€
Wright will miss his uncle Tom Burnside, who died in 2018 after years of helping lead spirited discussions of politics â€œand B.S.â€ that would go on into the wee hours. He and his pro-Trump uncle were on opposite ends of most political debates but would hear each other out.
â€œNo oneâ€™s hearts and minds were changed in these conversations,â€ Wright said with a chuckle.
But Burnside knew how to get the final word: heâ€™d leave behind pro-Trump mugs he sneaked into the cupboards of family critics.
Follow Dan Sewell at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell