Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Party Chit Chat for the Political Novice!

It’s holiday season, which means lots of holiday parties! But it’s also campaign season, which means that holiday party chit chat will turn towards politics! That’s great for a political junkie like me, but for the average Joe who doesn’t know much about politics, it just creates anxiety. People tell me all of the time that they’re afraid that expressing a political opinion at a party could make them look stupid, or give offense to others. And they’re right! Without expert guidance, you’re bound to seem like a fool or a buffoon!

But never fear! Below I’ve provided some pro tips for talking politics at parties that will help you seem smart and in-the-know!

What’s your political philosophy? This is an easy one! Practice the following sentence: “I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative!” This simple phrase shows that you’re thoughtful and independent! It shows that you’re cosmopolitan and “down” with all sorts of people, but that you’re not a sucker and that you have enough bank to care deeply about the top marginal tax rate! I’m serious about practicing; repeat “I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative” over and over until it’s second nature! At a 2003 cocktail party at Maureen Dowd’s house I had a few too many and announced “I’m a social conservative and a fiscal liberal.” It nearly caused a riot! Don’t you make that mistake!

Are you a Democrat or a Republican? Also easy: “I’m an independent!” Definitely a safe answer! A real pro would add, “because neither party really has the solutions to today’s problems.”

Which candidate do you support?  This is a tricky one! Anything you say that directly responds to the question could be held against you! So use a trick that the pros use on teevee! Answer a different question! Instead of talking about who should win the election, talk instead about who will win the election! For instance, you could say, “I think Ted Cruz has got the organization on the ground in Iowa to take advantage of his strength with evangelical voters,” or “Hillary Clinton will pick up the nomination by tacking to her left, but that could weaken her with moderate voters in the swing states in the general.” That way you show that you’re savvy about politics, but you don’t risk offending anyone by declaring support for a candidate that they hate! And don’t worry about being wrong; no one will remember!

What do you think about Black Lives Matter? Another tricky one! The best approach: “What do you think about Black Lives Matter?”

What do you think we should do about ISIS? It may surprise you to learn that this is actually an easy one! You’re not the President, so it isn’t your job to know what to do about ISIS! So you say, “The problem with our approach to ISIS is that the President doesn’t really have a strategy.” This same statement can be adapted to make you seem thoughtful about any foreign policy problem!

Follow these simple tips, and the average person will think you’re a professional political pundit!