Winter break is fast approaching. For many, being done with final exams, papers and projects and getting to go home and eat some home-cooked food is something to look forward to. For some, however, going home promises fraught tensions brought on by many things — a large one being differences in political opinion.
The state of politics right now is so horribly divisive that it can even drive wedges between family members. This may surprise some, as one’s family’s ideology is the most reliable predictor of political party affiliation. In a poll conducted by Gallup, it was found that 71 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 feel the same as their parents when it comes to social and political issues.
However, it’s worth noting that this poll only concerns itself with high school-aged teenagers, and does not account for older adolescents who are in college.
It’s no secret that the professors here at Binghamton University tend to be more left-leaning. So what happens to students’ views once they enter college? Education is one of the most accurate predictors of political view, as exposure to political issues while at college has great influence over one’s opinions.
Even in universities where many of the students come from conservative backgrounds, the students’ views move toward the left end of the spectrum. Being exposed to authority figures with particular views can mold and shift one’s own perspective.
It’s common to find professors and older students with liberal viewpoints because more education and higher education correlates to these liberal ideas. This is true even in notoriously conservative states.
In Georgia during the 2008 election, more white people with a college degree voted for former President Barack Obama than white people without a college degree. Obama beat out challenging Sen. John McCain by 8 percent within the college graduate demographic, and 18 percent with voters who had obtained a postgraduate degree.
More recently, in the 2016 election, 49 percent of college grads voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, beating out President Donald Trump’s 45 percent. When it came to postgraduate degree holders, the divide grew, with 58 percent of people voting for Clinton and just 37 percent for Trump.
During the 2016 election, the influx of media attention given to the turmoil and scandals surrounding Trump gave him and his followers a nationwide platform. When he’s on the 5 p.m. news every night and on the cover of the local paper, he becomes regular dinner table chat. If your family’s opinions on him differ, it can cause you to dread these interactions.
This established difference in opinion common between students and their parents can lead to tension and all-out arguments. Particularly with the holidays approaching, when stress is already heightened and family you don’t often see comes around, it’s tempting to be on edge and constantly ready to fight.
You may want to convince them that you are correct, and sway them to your side of the table. You may think you are doing them a favor, helping them to see things in the “correct” way, but this will only lead to more hard feelings and division.
You likely won’t be able to make them change, so the effort and frustration that will go into trying simply aren’t worth it.
There needs to be a balance between standing up for what you believe in and not compromising your integrity, and keeping the peace at home. Lay down your boundaries and stick to them, but know that not every hill is worth fighting and dying on.
Jessica Gutowitz is an undeclared freshman.