Republicans will get a chance on Thanksgiving to better understand liberals. Here's how.

Former President Donald Trump after announcing a third run for president at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Nov. 15, 2022.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

If you’re a Republican still reeling from the fact that your party struggled mightily in the midterm elections, I have great news: Thanksgiving is coming, and that’s a perfect time to try and better understand your liberal and independent-minded relatives.

This is the advice we liberals were given after Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

“You need to step outside your lefty bubble and figure out what makes Trump voters tick,” they said. We were dispatched to rural diners and told to listen sympathetically to the concerns of those who called us DemonRATS and enemies of the people.

After a midterm disappointment, maybe Republicans need to reach out

Well, turnabout is fair play. By all measures, Republicans should have cleaned up in the midterm elections, seizing both houses of Congress and grabbing governorships and state legislatures galore. President Joe Biden’s approval numbers were low, gas and food prices are high and midterms almost always go well for the party not in the White House.

Oops! Republicans lost a slew of governor’s races they expected to win, didn’t get hold of the U.S. Senate and took over power in the U.S. House by a perilously narrow margin.

It seemed the message of “Democrats are evil and Joe Biden is senile and the 2020 election was rigged and we’re going to ban abortion everywhere and make sure transgender kids don’t play sports!!” did not go over as Republicans had hoped.

Opinion alerts: Get columns from your favorite columnists + expert analysis on top issues, delivered straight to your device through the USA TODAY app. Don't have the app? Download it for free from your app store.

Thanksgiving dinner is the perfect place to learn what makes liberals tick

So now’s an ideal time for GOP voters to do as they once instructed others. Holiday gatherings invariably include people with differing political views. So instead of dispatching Republicans to big-city coffee shops and vegan protein-bowl restaurants, I recommend they just look across the Thanksgiving table and ask their non-conservative loved ones: “So, you’re kind of a liberal/independent type, right? How can I understand you?”

To facilitate these talks, I’m happy to provide the following conversation starters, all bound to yield productive chats and a deeper understanding, just as our post-2016 conversations with Trump supporters always worked out swimmingly.

How to talk about politics, civilly: We meet weekly for lunch and talk politics. We don't always agree. But we're always civil.

Some conversation starters for conservatives reaching out to liberals

“I guess what I’m trying to understand is why you all want everyone to get abortions all the time. Is it because you’re godless? Please pass the stuffing.”

“Let’s start with something I’m sure we can agree on. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hates America.”

“Was there something in the Republicans’ midterm message that didn’t resonate with you? What’s that? Everything? Can you be more specific? No? Literally just everything. OK. That’s a lot. I’m going to go get pie.”

“So one person who tends to come down more in the middle on things is Tucker Carl…wait, where are you going?”

“OK, let’s say America is this bowl of mixed vegetables. On the count of three, let’s each say what we think will make it great. One, two, three…why did you say making sure each vegetable has an equal chance to contribute to the taste? The answer is obviously to separate out the white beans and put them all on top.

Helping Republicans connect

I hope these different scenarios help my Republican friends, surely humbled by the midterms, learn how other Americans think, allowing them to forge a stronger message that resonates with a broad swath of Americans.

I also hope a slice of pecan pie comes to life and jumps into my mouth.

Not sure which is more likely, if I’m being honest.

More from Rex Huppke:

House GOP heard the American voters: They definitely want Hunter Biden investigations!

Noted political loser Donald Trump announces plan to lose presidential race again

After the 'red wave' flop, we need new male political experts who are always wrong. I'm in.

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Thanksgiving dinner might be the place to talk politics this year