Your 2021 Holiday Dinner Political Survival Guide

Below is my column in The Hill to help readers survive this year’s the holiday dinners with friends and family. The cards below can be printed and cut down for easy palming or secreting in a napkin for reference during meals.

Here is the column:

It seems like this Christmas is all Krampus and no St. Nick. People are in a foul mood, and politically it seems every day brings little offerings from the Caga Tió — from packing institutions or sacking individuals. in righteous indignation.

Indeed, if you expect your holiday events are going to be an emotional powder keg, think of  dinner for Justice Sonia Sotomayor with the three newest justices after she said a “stench” of politics followed them to the Court. Then there is the happy gathering of the Democrats with senators like Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) after the White House basically called him a liar, and other members called him the killer of democracy for refusing to support the Build Back Better bill (BBB). Of course, the Republicans have a former president who hates the majority leader and house members who are seeking to sanction each other.

Welcome to Christmas 2021, our hair-triggered holiday season.

It is not surprising, therefore, to read the recent Quinnipiac University poll, which found a universal fear of holiday fireworks over political divisions. Some 66 percent of adults are hoping to avoid any discussion of politics. The problem is that 21 percent say that they are “looking forward” to hashing out political differences. That means that even with eight guests struggling to stay on football and fashion, two guests will be actively trying to steer the conversation onto immigration and insurrection.

That means that you have to be prepared.

Below are some Christmas crib notes to get you through holiday dinner. Each topic — abortion, the filibuster, court packing, and gerrymandering — is divided between comments you might expect from Democratic and Republican family members and friends. Just palm a few of these if your holiday gathering suddenly turns from “Whoville” to “whodunit.”


Abortion is about to be outlawed

No, the Supreme Court in Dobbs is deciding whether to return some — or all — of the power over abortion limits to the states. Even if Roe were overturned, it would simply make this a state issue — and most states would protect the right.

Backside fun fact:

Even Justice Ginsburg criticized Roe as “Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.”


Abortion has always been criminal

Actually, some early laws were tied to the “quickening” for the first feeling of movement in a pregnancy. That would occur around the 14th week.

Backside fun fact:

At his confirmation hearing, Justice Clarence Thomas testified that he had never really thought about Roe v. Wade and had no firm view on the matter.


The filibuster is a racist relic that must be eliminated to protect democracy

Actually, it is more a “relic” of the Julius Caesar era than the Jim Crow era. In ancient Rome, the filibuster was used to force the Roman senate to hear dissenting voices. It has been used in the U.S. Senate to protect minority rights and to encourage compromise.

Backside fun fact:

Then-Sen. Joe Biden denounced any termination of the filibuster as “disastrous” and would change “understanding and unbroken practice of what the Senate is all about.” Then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) denounced those seeking to eradicate the filibuster and warned that it would “put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only become worse.”


The filibuster has been part of our constitutional system since the Framers

Actually, it can be traced to a procedural argument by former Vice President Aaron Burr to get rid of an automatic end to debate on bills in the early 1800s. The rule has been repeatedly modified, as in 1975 when the threshold to end a filibuster was reduced to 60 votes.

Backside fun fact:

The Democrats under then-Majority Leader Harry Reid crossed the Rubicon by removing the filibuster for votes on non-Supreme Court judicial nominees in 2013. The Republicans then removed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees to end the blocking of the confirmations of Justices Neil Gorsuch and then Brett Kavanaugh.


Republicans packed the court first in the Merrick Garland nomination

The Senate has the constitutional authority to vote or not vote on a nominee. The refusal to vote on President Obama’s nominee was not court packing. It did not add justices to force an instant majority in favor of one side.

Backside fun fact:

As a senator, Joe Biden called packing the Supreme Court “a bonehead idea,” “a terrible, terrible mistake. Packing the Court has also been opposed by justices including the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer.


Court packing is unconstitutional

Actually, the number of Supreme Court justices is not set in the Constitution. The number has fluctuated through the years, with larger and smaller courts — tied to the number of federal circuits. Since justices once “rode circuit” and actually sat as judges in lower courts, Congress would add a justice when it added a circuit — or reduce the court with the elimination of a circuit. Thus, when a 10th circuit was added in 1863, a 10th justice was added at the same time.

Backside Fun Fact:

When the court first convened in 1790 in New York, at the Royal Exchange Building, it had just six members.


Democracy is dying

The claim that democracy is dying without the federalization of elections ignores the fact the Constitution leaves most of the election rules to the states. Each state sets its election rules as a result of the democratic process, and both parties continue to engage in gerrymandering with Democratic majorities this year being challenged over such contorted maps to engineer victories.

Backside fun fact:

The precursor to the Democratic party (Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party) actually started gerrymandering. In 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry, signed a bill to redistrict Massachusetts for the benefit of his party. In the 1980s, California Democrat Phil Burton boasted that his distortion of district lines to help the democrats was “my contribution to modern art.” Both Democratic and Republican states are gerrymandering this year.


Gerrymandering is what Democracy is all about

Abuses like gerrymandering are inherently abusive and undermine the democratic process. The fact that courts have allowed states to engage in such abuse (unless it dilutes minority voting) is not an endorsement of the practice.

Backside fun fact:

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and other Republicans pushed for the passage of “legislation aimed at outlawing gerrymandering.” The bill sought “‘neutral criteria’ to be used in drawing the nation’s congressional districts after the 1990 census.” Despite multiple bills, it was defeated by Democratic opposition.—————————————————————————————–


26 thoughts on “Your 2021 Holiday Dinner Political Survival Guide”

  1. The party that ends the filibuster it will rejoice only to regret it in short order. See Harry Reid

  2. “God endorses the genocide, killing, torture, suffering, orphans, etc. that always accompany such military excursions”. God does these things himself with tornados, earthquakes, and tsunamis. If God can do it, then humans can do it. God is just leading by example 🙂

  3. Thank you professor for being the adult in the room. If 2021 has proven anything it is that politicians, voters on the far-right and far-left of both parties, and most media outlets (CNN, MSNBC in particular Reidout who is embittered against all whites, WaPo and Jennifer Rubin the hater, Ann Coulter who cannot find any goodness in the center of politics and Kimberlee Crenshaw and her preposterous theory on race) are incapable of having civil discourse without accusing the other side of being racist, bigots, homophobic, fascists or anti-immigration. We would have been better served by electing Moderates to office including Pence, Ben Carson, Mitch Daniels, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Tim Ryan or John Hickenlooper or Lindsey Graham who seek consensus rather than extremism. We get what we deserve when we (or the idiots who hijack the primaries) elect extremists like Harris, Warren, Sanders or loathsome figures like Trump. Dinners with family and friends are quite colorful already without politics.
    Hope you enjoyed a Merry Christmas. Our family looks forward to reading your column in 2022.

    1. So you’re saying the GOP AND DNC do not both buy votes by fomenting unnecessary, deficit-fueled, military-contractor enriching military excursions overseas against persons almost always with darker skin than the average American? And always brain-washing taxpayers into believing that God endorses the genocide, killing, torture, suffering, orphans, etc. that always accompany such military excursions? Wars and military excursions which USMC Lt. Colonel Smedley Butler swore always had one primary purpose-to transfer public wealth to bankers?

    2. “[T]he laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.”

      – Thomas Jefferson

      Congress was never to lay taxes “ad libitum” or for anything and everything it pleases or fancies at the time.

      General Welfare means ALL welfare and excludes everything that is not, such as individual welfare, specific welfare, redistribution of wealth and charity. Social Security and Medicare do not constitute all but a small segment of the population, those over 65.

      The entire American welfare state is unconstitutional including, but not limited to, any and all regulation beyond that which is clearly enumerated: Money, commerce and land and naval Forces.

  4. On the filibuster, JT meant Gorsuch, not BK. On Garland, the Senate Republicans took the unprecedented step of refusing to even consider his nomination — no votes or hearings and many refused to meet with him.

    1. “step of refusing to even consider his nomination “

      Concerned, observing Garland in action at the DOJ makes one realize how prescient some of those Republicans were.

    2. Ever heard of Miguel Estrada, Janice Brown, etc? They were all blocked by Dems, given no hearings.
      It’s Democracy in action. Whoever controls the Senate schedules hearings.

      1. Unlike Supreme Court nominee Garland, both Court of Appeals nominees Estrada and Brown were considered by the Senate through a committee hearing, committee approval, and a filibuster on the Senate floor. Brown was ultimately confirmed during the next Congress.

    3. Apparently, some DNC members are still in denial that nominating possibly the all-time most hated politician in American history in 2016 has lasting results including what you describe above.

    4. Unprecedented step or eminently constitutional step? You seem incoherent. You have read the Constitution, right? I have the impression that you are attempting to impose a communist dictatorship.

      Indeed, it is the dominion of the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution that bears.

      The entire American welfare state is unconstitutional.

      Most Justices of the Supreme Court should have been impeached and convicted long ago; imagine, they swore an oath to support the Constitution.

  5. The democrats have lost the ability to apply common sense to their decisions in congress.
    Nancy C

    1. Do you think that the judgement exercised by Republicans is “common sense?” If you do then your judgment is seriously impaired.

      1. Randy, most politicians exercise political speak rather than common sense. If one reads Hayek, Friedman and others, one can better visualize common sense. Then when one removes himself from all political speak, one can see that most of Biden’s policies do not exercise common sense, rather exercise political speak from an incoherent leftist agenda.

        1. I place very little stock or confidence in the concept of common sense. It is virtually a fiction and what little of it there may be is neither common nor sensible. I taught science for several decades. I frequently encountered then and still to this day numerous people who throw out the common sense defense to defend plainly stupid ideas, not to mention all manner of prejudices and biases.. Common sense is often times just a form of ignorance masquerading as something useful and sensible

          1. “I place very little stock or confidence in the concept of common sense. It is virtually a fiction”

            Randy, common sense is what gets people through life. It also informs them that there are many things they don’t know. The best way to demonstrate what I am saying is to observe how a person with no common sense functions.

            I think you answered yourself when you said: “Common sense is often times just a form of ignorance masquerading as something useful and sensible

  6. All interesting facts.

    Seems like we are dominated by talking points pushing a narrative. A large swath of our population are totally ignorant of these facts, because they directly contradict the narrative.

  7. Thank you, Professor Turley, for those tidbits of information that represent not the left or the right rather a centrist point of view.

  8. Hark the Harold gangster sings…
    Glory to the new born ting.
    Peace on Mars and other planets..
    Earth is just a muddled mess!

  9. I have followed you for years since I first saw you on TV. I so wish that our political leaders would mimic your professional, logical, and intelligent demeanor. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

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