I’m the lone progressive in my company — how do I deal with all the political talk?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I work in an extremely conservative industry in a red state. While my city did flip blue in 2018, I believe I am the only person with progressive beliefs in my company. However, I keep that information to myself because political discussions can be very difficult for me as I am highly sensitive. As we get closer to the next election, what do your readers suggest for dealing with disparaging comments about someone with my beliefs or discussions about upsetting news stories? I never engage if I hear anyone talking and try to leave the room when it has started. My thought is that they genuinely believe that everyone in earshot agrees.

I am in a position where hiding in my office is not reasonable all the time and headphones are only sometimes appropriate.

Well, this is timely. Readers, what’s your advice?

{ 339 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Can you take off the week of the election? That’s not going to help mitigate things on a day to day basis, but at least it’ll get you out of there when it’s likely to be most prevalent. Especially after the election when people may be arguing about the results.

    1. Even In an Emergency*

      I’m taking the day after off and I don’t even go into the office – this is a really good idea if possible.

      1. juliebulie*

        Me too. There’s a good chance I’ll be hungover, no matter what the outcome.

        If there even is an outcome yet on that day. I still have nightmares about the 2000 election; I was living in FL at the time… I’m glad I don’t know anyone named Chad…

        …and speaking of being in Florida for the 2000 election, I was working in a very conservative industry (actually the intersection of two very conservative industries) and there was surprisingly little political talk, either before or after the election. It was just not part of the company’s culture. So, such workplaces do exist.

        1. Even In an Emergency*

          Saaaame. And in 2016 I actually don’t know if I worked for a conservative or liberal company – no one talked about politics at all. I just know the next day I wasn’t the only one who went to cry in the bathroom.

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          From what I’ve read, we should definitely not be aiming to have an outcome on November 4. And not because of things like 2000, but because if everything works perfectly it’s still not possible to count the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots overnight. And we should count every ballot! We don’t have to have results by the next day; we need them by January. I hope news organizations get this and don’t p pressure on anyone to concede or declare victory on election night. Being fair will mean being patient.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            The Electoral College votes on December 14th.

            And even if we don’t have a solid answer the night of/day after, those days are likely to be more fraught with anxiety and tension for people.

            1. Katrinka*

              The EC is supposed to start on Dec. 14, but there are provisions for their voting to take several days. Their results don’t have to be submitted to the House of Representatives for ratification until Jan. 3.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I feel like it’s VERY different now. In years past, there just was not so much talk at the office about politics.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Same. I’m planning to stay up and watch the returns. Even if there isn’t a resolution, I want to see the outcomes of the various Senate races and whatnot.

      3. Artemesia*

        It is also possible when there is a lot of political talk to say ‘all this politics right now is just making me so anxious; can we not discuss it at work.’ I know all sorts of progressives who can’t stomach it right now with other progressives. This is a very anxiety producing time — not wanting to talk politics need not mark you out as having different political views. You won’t stop it but you might reduce it that way and also give yourself cover for walking away.

        It might also be a good time for the ‘anthropologist’ approach. i.e. emotionally distance yourself and look at them as an interesting tribe you are observing.

        1. Secretary*

          Love this– though in some workplaces you may want to frame “anxious” as “over it” like, “Y’all I’m so over politics talk in general can we change the subject?”.

          Not wanting to talk about politics isn’t a progressive thing, conservatives can feel that way too and I’ll bet you’re not the only one who’s sick of it.

          1. Artemesia*

            In my social group the phrase is ‘it is making me crazy’ but that word can be fraught. People are mostly sympathetic with the idea that political talk is not pleasant right now.

        2. HerGirlFriday*

          I love this. I work in govt & politics and even I get fatigued by it. I like to approach it gently and with humor.
          “I’m going to sit out this conversation. I’ve reached my saturation point on election talk.”
          “(fingers in ears) La la la la la la la. Next topic. No more political chatter.”
          “I am sooo overwhelmed by current events. Can we find something else to talk about? How about those (sports team)/have any weekend plans/weather/Seen anything on Netflix or Hulu you can recommend?”

      4. Ally McBeal*

        I was planning to take off the day after, until (1) I realized we probably aren’t going to have a final answer that day, and (2) my company (which works with young people) is doing a lot of programming in the days right afterward to debrief the election, and I’ll probably be needed for some aspect of that programming. But I worked at my company during the 2016 election, and we’re very progressive, so our entire department did nothing but sit around and cry together – we somehow weren’t expected to be very productive because everyone was so shocked. I’m very fortunate in that regard, and I can’t imagine enduring this election season as the lone progressive in a conservative environment. My heart goes out to everyone in that situation.

        1. Katrinka*

          I am working as an election judge, and early voting here is the week before Election Day. It will be long hours every day (Nov. 4 will be at least 15 hours straight), so I hope everyone around me will understand that the last thing I want to talk about is election stuff (and I can’t discuss a lot of what happens at the polling place). I am unemployed, so avoiding work talk should be easy.

        1. Yes Ma'am*

          Same. In 2016 I fell asleep when things were looking okay for Clinton but then woke up at 2am to total chaos and didn’t sleep the rest of the night. This year I’m just accepting I’ll be up all night and won’t be working the next day.

        2. But There is a Me in Team*

          Ha, I have a friend with dual Canadian/US citizenship. I told him that I/my spouse/both would like to marry him and and get out of Crazytown. He said he has a lot of proposals and I need to sweeten the pot. Thank you for sprinkling sanity in our general direction.

          1. Properlike*

            I once had a French-Canadian friend propose to me so he could become a US Citizen. Wonder what he’s doing 20 years later…

          2. Part Time Poet*

            I know a family in the US with dual US/Canadian citizenship and even have a house in Canada. Their gay son had stacks of marriage proposals for the dual citizenship angle. I would seriously consider marrying just about anyone for dual citizenship.

        3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          It’s too bad (for me) that Canada needs programmers like it needs snow and maple trees…

      5. NGL*

        Election day is my birthday. I’m volunteering at my local polling site to give me something productive to do rather than doomscroll Twitter. I’m also taking the day after off. Either for bleated birthday celebrations or…not.

      6. tamarack and fireweed*

        ROTFL – we have the major annual all-hands meeting of our project Wed/Thu right after the election. Not sure what they were thinking! I have to present twice. But at least I won’t be expected to be super productive with new stuff…

    2. Smithy*

      Strong agree with this.

      Overall, I think the OP is truly doing everything that makes sense. Short of saying comments like “these days the news makes me look forward to relaxing at work where I can just focus on data entry/TPS reports/cold calling” – I don’t think there’s a lot the OP can do that won’t simply draw more attention to themselves and their beliefs. That being said, knowing that you have the week of the election of perhaps the Monday-Wednesday around the election off – that may provide some emotional relief of looking forward to some time off plus time away from the office during what will likely be a highly political conversation time.

    3. Oxford Comma*

      This is a good idea. I think I’m going to take the day after off. No matter what happens I’ll be a mess.

    4. GigglyPuff*

      Yeah, I didn’t set out to intentionally do this, but I totally ended up renting one of those tiny cabins with no wi-fi, and cellphone box, Election Day + that week, and I’m so happy I’ve done that.

    5. Nikki*

      Keep in mind that we might not know the results of the election by the next day. I’ve been hearing that with all of the mail in ballots that need to be counted and restrictions in some states on when that counting can start, we might not have full election results until days or even weeks later.

      1. Katrinka*

        I think most states are giving mail-in ballots until Nov. 6 to arrive. Many are starting to count already because of the sheer number that have already arrived. I would imagine we’ll get fairly accurate numbers by the weekend (Nov. 8). Hopefully the result will be overwhelming enough that any calls for recounts will be few and obviously superfluent.

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          My state isn’t giving a date to arrive, just a deadline to be postmarked, which is Nov. 3.

    6. Cedarthea*

      I am in Canada (but an American citizen who did vote), and I am strongly considering something similar because some people in my office watch US politics like one would watch a sporting match, and its far too high stakes for me to find funny.

      1. Alex*

        I am an American, and I dated a non-American with that exact “it’s like sports!” approach in 2016 and had to break up over it. The stakes were so high to me, and American politics was all a hilarious show to him. I know what my country isn’t the center of the universe but I couldn’t take it. So, props to you for handling this more gracefully than I did. Hang in there, hopefully the bulk of it will be over after November and we’ll return to a deeply boring political scene .

      2. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

        That’s shocking and as a Brit so complacent. The issues affecting US politics have been replicated in different countries across the globe no one country is immune to these trends. Standing with you guys in hoping for a return of civil and respectful political life.

      3. Tidewater 4-1009*

        I’ve gotten the impression many Americans see it as a sport too. It seems that’s part of the problem in this country.

    7. Ann O'Nemity*

      This is not a bad idea, though it may take some time to get results.

      One year my company had a big event a few days after the election. The timing just kind of worked out that way, and no one had the foresight to realize how divisive the election outcome was going to be. It was… tense, to say the least.

    8. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

      I am taking the week of the election off, and I work in a blue office in a blue city in a blue state. I just want to spend the entire week knitting and drinking.

    9. Aphrodite*

      Sadly, these problems will not end on election day (or the day after the election). I fully expect this awfulness to go on until at least January 20.

  2. Even In an Emergency*

    I hate this because I worry there’s no good way for you to speak up. It’s not fair, at all, but I have a feeling if you say “hey can we cool down the politics talk, you don’t know how others in the office may feel” to a group, you might be outing yourself to people who will treat you badly.

    I wonder if you could ask HR to send out a reminder that political conversations shouldn’t be happening at work?

    1. Annony*

      I think it may be better to focus on how exhausting politics and world events has been this year. “I’m sorry but do you mind not discussing politics/news for a while? It’s been so mentally draining this year that I really need a break from it.” A lot of people of all political views feel that way right now. I have shut down politics talk even when I agree because right now, I am DONE. I still plan to vote, but I just can’t handle the constant bombardment anymore.

      1. Evan Þ.*

        I agree. Sometimes I’m happy to talk about politics, but sometimes I’m just exhausted. I’ve said that several times to my parents, even though we share the same political views.

        1. bluephone*

          Yes, very much so. I’ve set up most of my social media feeds so that the politics/views expressed are probably similar to mine…but I still don’t necessarily want to see all that right now. Or like, ever. Like, yes I’m voting, yes I donate, yes I care about the causes I support and the people they’re helping but good lord, I need a break, y’all. I just want to see pretty pictures of sunsets or whatever on my Instagram, what is so wrong about that.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Every so often I share something on my Twitter feed that isn’t a cat picture.

            But not very often, because honestly, I mostly just can’t with the things more serious than my cats, right now. I’m reserving what energy I do have for that for the things you mention – voting, donating, etc.

      2. Even In an Emergency*

        Yeah I think that could be a better approach … I still just worry that people will begin to wonder and get nosy about OP’s position … maybe I’m overthinking.

        1. Idril Celebrindal*

          Unfortunately, I agree with the worry. I’m my experience, even saying something about it being draining well likely result in either a barrage of “sure I’ll stop after I tell you about this one last important thing you need to hear, and another, and another,” thus resulting in making OP the focused target of the rants; or it would start an interrogation of “how could you be exhausted, you’re so sensitive, maybe that’s just because you are a (insert derogatory term for people the speaker disagrees with)” I wish I had a better answer, but there is a certain flavor of person where anything other than nodding and vague sounds that could be taken as agreement will only fan the flames.

        2. Persephone Mongoose*

          If they do, hopefully OP keeps in mind that those people the ones being unreasonable, not the OP. “I keep a hard line between work and politics, so I can’t get into it. Thanks for understanding!” is all that should, SHOULD, be needed. Keeping that boundary is 100% good and reasonable and they do not have to humor people who try to push past it. Easier said than done, I know!

          1. Even In an Emergency*

            I think it’s more that in a situation like this it can affect her actual work. If they begin to guess she’s a lone progessive and they feel strongly about their own views, will they shut her out of projects/promotions/ get togethers? It can really affect her standing, no matter how reasonable she is being.

            1. Tidewater 4-1009*

              I think you’re right. OP should be very cautious about the slightest hint she doesn’t agree with them.

      3. HungryLawyer*

        I think this is a good approach. I work in politics, and sometimes I even have to take a bit of break (as much as I can). It may help to reframe it as “I prefer to catch up on the news after work/before work/on the weekends, so I’d rather not hear discussions about it now.”

    2. a thought*

      I think its possible that there are other people who are uncomfortable or who don’t agree and are also keeping quiet! The OP would know best but if it’s a larger office and not everyone participates in the politics talk, the script you propose could work.

      Now, you wouldn’t want it to kick off a search for “the person who disagrees!” so if it seems like people will be fired up and combative, it might be your best bet to lay low.

    3. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      Asking people to be respectful or saying you are bothered by something absolutely outs you as not-a-Trump-voter. OP is clearly not at a place where that is safe – not socially, not professionally, and – to be perfectly frank – these days not physically either.

      Sorry, OP – don’t let them know you disagree. Trust me on this, and don’t. Cultivate a reputation as just a fairly private person who keeps their head down and works.

      For my bona fides: I made this mistake as a youngster. At one place, the boss just took it as a chance to constantly “rib” me about being a liberal. I was young and hot, so the vibe was more condescending, creepy paternal figure won’t leave you alone. He thought it was cute and hilarious and also, since liberals can’t be good Christian girls, that it meant he had a shot at getting in my pants.

      At another place, where the break-room was “the Rush room,” lunch conversation was the graphic things the guys wanted to do to Bill Clinton’s wife, and management was all LITERALLY in the John Birch Society, it made things genuinely scary. The 1990s and factory jobs were a different world, as far as sexual assault goes, even if we didn’t call it that, and the guys had some opinions about “feminazis.”

      1. JokeyJules*

        i experienced exactly this but flipped. at my last job, everyone was very anti-trump and anti-trump supporters, and would have lengthy discussions about their views and opinions and internet arguments. Whether i agree with my coworkers stance or not, its exhausting to listen to! it’s not a good energy to be around, especially not every day and when you’re at work. at one point i piped up and said “hey, can we cool it on this? i need a day without the politics talk, and you dont know what everyone heres views are, i dont want people feeling uncomfortable at their job”

        so then they all thought i was a trump supporter. which i’m not intending to be a negative thing, but it would be an inaccurate statement. those coworkers completely ostracized me and it really sucked.

        1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          Cool – anybody corner you in the breakroom and explain in detail about how they were going to cure you of feminism? More than once?

          Yay I win.

          For real though – I’ve also worked places with droning, self-congratulatory progressives who assume everyone is on board with their views. Even when I agree with them, I find them mad irritating. But they’ve never made me feel unsafe or said I was subhuman and had no right to exist.

          1. Firecat*

            Alison asked us to avoid this.

            It doesn’t have to be a one-upmanship to have this discussion.

            I say this as the lone progressive in my very conservative office. I was out as a liberal atheist. I’ve never been physically attacked at work and if I was there are processes for that. I wouldn’t assume HR would have wave it away either.

            I’m sorry you had that scary encounter but the advice for the op isn’t really changed by this.

            1. JokeyJules*

              Thank you, my intention was to agree with HarvestKaleSlaw and point out that it can go both ways. politics can be inherently divisive, no matter which side you align with

              1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

                I think your point was well made, JokeyJules.

                Rabid political talk is uncomfortable regardless of which side you’re on, and while I consider myself politically progressive, I’ve encountered many liberals who only respect those who share their opinions, dismissive of Christians, and anti-Semitic to boot.

                I’m not in the US and my country’s political landscape is pretty different from yours, but intolerance is universal.

            2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

              The intent was not to one-up – that was snark. However I refuse absolutely to tolerate both-siderism. To take but one example: Some people are uncomfortable seeing gays on the TV in the breakroom. And some people are told by their coworkers that they are an abomination in the eyes of God, that their marriage should be criminalized, and that they should be sent to a reeducation camp to be brutalized and brainwashed until they’re straight.

              That’s not “politics at work.” That’s not “people have different opinions.” It’s denying someone’s fundamental human rights. Forget that.

              My advice to the OP is and was this: When you are dealing with people who maybe do not see you as fully human, your priority is to be safe. Hide if you can’t leave.

              1. Gaia*

                Sexism and bigotry know no political party. I am a liberal in a very liberal area and let me tell you I have experienced some of the absolute worst sexism, sexual harassment, and bigotry here by people that identify all over the left half of the spectrum.

                This isn’t bothsider-ism. This is reality. I refuse to be blind to the misogyny and bigotry that exists within my political affiliations because that does nothing to help anyone. These are societal problems, not political ones.

                1. Firecat*

                  Yes look at Silicon valley as an example. Google is a very liberal company. It’s toxic environment to women was also all over the news.

            3. Tidewater 4-1009*

              I think the point Harvest KaleSlaw is making is the people on one side of this divide tend more to intimidation and physical violence than the people on the other side, and she is right. So the OP should be aware and careful about this.

              I know this from growing up in a fundamentalist area. Luckily my experiences weren’t as bad as Harvest KaleSlaw’s, but there were a lot of scary men around my early jobs. I avoided them and kept quiet and left the area as soon as I could.

          2. Sam I Am*

            “Yay I win. For real though-”

            It’s not a competition. You’ve maximized your experience and minimized someone else’s experience, then essentially said “just kidding.” That’s a great way to lose an ally, and I think wherever you land politically you know strength is in coalitions.

            1. Paperwhite*

              If someone is going to read HarvestKaleSlaw’s bit of snark and conclude that feminism is evil and corrective rape is fun and cheerful to threaten people with, I don’t really think they could have been reached anyway.

              1. Sam I Am*

                I agree with your statement, I just wanted to point out that this type of rhetoric turns off the people that already agree with you by minimizing their experience.

            2. Salymander*

              Maybe the “I Win” snark was misplaced, I don’t know. But if an ally is lost because if that, maybe they weren’t really an ally anyway.
              That argument is really similar to a lot of stuff some really bigoted and yet supposedly liberal people have said to me. Don’t be pushy or abrasive or loud or too demanding and of course always smile pleasantly and be agreeable or else your request for equality will be denied. As if acknowledgement of my basic humanity was on the table until I messed it up by failing to behave perfectly. Maybe you didn’t mean it that way, Sam I Am, but it did strike a nerve I guess.
              Sometimes that dark humor is less about trying to one up anyone and more about trying to laugh off a history of dealing with some really hurtful stuff.

        2. Firecat*

          Yes I’ve had very similar experiences expressing different view to clique view group. That’s why I think, unless you are cool being the office *other* you should leave off any feelings part and keep it to general dislike of all things politics.

        3. Firecat*

          Agree. Adding the “respectful of feelings” “not sure whose listening” is usually interpreted as I disagree/am upset with what you said.

          1. Tidewater 4-1009*

            It comes off as a hint there are people who disagree around and it will upset them, which will make them defensive, which will make them try to fix the problem of having people around who disagree with them.
            Not a good result.

      2. Definately Not Monica*

        You are not alone. I made the mistake of opining that Bill Clinton’s impeachment was a bad thing at a Christmas luncheon with the big boss. I was just out of college and I had no idea about how differently opposing perspectives would be taken in the “real world” It was so awful I had to quit several weeks later.

      3. Majnoona*

        I agree. Don’t engage or they’ll go after you. One thing I have done to stay sane as a blue dot in a red state is work on a Democratic campaign

    4. JustaTech*

      I think maybe it’s something for the commentariate to think about: if you’re in the political majority at work consider asking people to lay off, saying something like “You know I agree with you, but you don’t necessarily know who doesn’t agree with you and there’s no reason to make things weird at work if we don’t have to. Let’s talk about something else.”

      Like, I know that most of my coworkers agree with me politically, but it still feels off when the bosses start to go off on this or that politician.

    5. Firecat*

      I actually have a conservative coworker in my conservative agency who does this a lot and no one assumes she’s a closet liberal.

      The trick is to leave off the feelings bit:
      I’m tired of politics.
      I don’t want to talk about this.
      That story wears me out.

  3. King Friday XIII*

    If you don’t want to engage, can you fall back on the ol’ “I’m not comfortable discussing politics at work” or maybe a “I’m trying to focus on positive things so let’s not talk about news” or something like that? I’m sorry, that sucks and honestly was a big part of my choice to move cross-country a while ago.

    1. Washi*

      Yeah, or something along the lines of “agh, I’d rather take a break from the endless news cycle while I’m at work!”

      I’ve always worked in pretty progressive places, but even so, I don’t want to spend every workday hearing a rehash of Everything That is Terrible in the world. I am politically engaged and follow current events, but at a certain point everyone agreeing with each other that something is horrible just isn’t productive, particularly at work.

      1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        Same, on all counts. I’ve verbalized “can we please not doom scroll while talking to each other? I have more than enough of that going on in my free time” before.

    2. Jenny F. Scientist*

      I belong to a knitting group where every time something like this comes up, someone says “Remember the rule! No religion or politics!” I feel like a semi-joking, semi-serious “Hey, let’s not discuss religion or politics at work! Too controversial/stressful!” could be politely and firmly deployed on the regular.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      One thing my mum (who used to work HR prior to retirement) drummed into my head was ‘never discuss politics, religion or sex at work’.

      Things too fraught for casual conversation. I’m trying on a ‘let’s try to find at least one bit of positive science, photography, nature news per week’ stance that recently had us all cooing over a tiger photo.

  4. I'm Just Me*

    Any chance you could make it clear you don’t want to discuss politics at work, maybe expressing some dismay about how fraught/emotional they seem to make everyone and stating you prefer to focus on work? I think that ignoring political talk or shutting it down this way are probably your best bets since you state you are “highly sensitive” about it.

    1. EgyptMarge*

      I think folks on both sides of the political spectrum are burned out on politics after this year. It seems that this election has been going on for multiple decades. I would lean into the “can we cut the political talk and change the subject to something happier?” You don’t have to voice what your opinion is, just that you don’t want to hear ANYONE’S opinion at the moment. I know even simple things seem fraught at the moment but I think people will understand the need to take a break from the reality of 2020 for awhile.

        1. Environmental Compliance*


          I’m torn between “holy crap, it’s almost November” and “holy crap, how are we still in 2020” at all times.

        2. Tired of Covid-and People*

          Ain’t that the truth? I’m 65 and this has been the longest year of my life, and it’s not over yet.

      1. But There is a Me in Team*

        The TV ads you can sort of avoid but the TEXTING. I cut and pasted some nonsense phrases eg “you are a donkey’s uncle” in Japanese, Arabic and Polish from online dictionaries and that’s how I reply to spam texts. After doing that about 3 times, all the spam texts have stopped. Probably has me on a watch list somewhere, but feels worth it.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          You can report spam texts to 7726. I’ve done it with creepy solicitations and it works.
          I never give a phone number. If some politician’s form is insisting on it I enter one that’s obviously not real.

  5. sv*

    I think you are probably doing the best you can – as someone who frequently found myself in similar situations before I moved from [southern state] to [major metropolitan area], sometimes zipping your lips and finding any excuse to leave the room is the best way to handle political conversations that won’t go anywhere nice. If leaving or staying silent isn’t an option, you can try to diplomatically change topics, but that’s also a crapshoot depending on who you’re talking to. It can be very frustrating knowing that you are politically outnumbered. However, given how polarizing everything is lately, I think you know you wouldn’t change anyone’s mind by speaking up. Good luck!

  6. Observer*

    Even people who agree with you don’t necessarily want to hear your political views in the office, conservative or liberal. Also, both conservative and liberal are a spectrum, so even two people who are conservative (or liberal) can STRONGLY disagree on a given issue. On top of which, this year, for a lot of people all along the spectrum, politics is something they REALLY don’t want to discuss even if in the past it was interesting.

    Which is to say that you can easily try to push the culture to just not discuss this stuff in the office. At least not as often. So when something comes up, you could say that you just don’t have the energy for this, and what about the >favorite sports team<, crazy weather, or TPS reports?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Agree wholeheartedly — everyone has folks (even close friends) they disagree with right now. As a moderate, I disagree with many of the extreme positions espoused by folks on the less moderate end of my own political spectrum, and some of those disagreements have become very unpleasant. I think it’s reasonable to have work be a politics free zone — it’s just too fraught right now.

    2. KayDeeAye*

      I like the “don’t have the energy” approach a lot.

      These days, I am only somewhat outnumbered in my office, but it used to be much more one-sided (one-sided the wrong way, at least from my perspective), and most of the time, I’d just absent myself from such discussions – which was somewhat effective, but only somewhat.

      Every now and then, though, when the talk would stray too far into “Of course all of ‘us’ feel the same way” territory, I did sometimes remind the speaker that no, actually, we don’t. I just couldn’t help myself. I’m sure they found it very annoying, but it didn’t seem to hurt me professionally…and it would reduce such comments for a little while.

      I can understand if the OP doesn’t feel as though this is a good option for them, though.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My boss and I are of a similar mind and I STILL don’t wanna talk about politics or the world or whatever at work. Now I have a great boss. I think so highly of her.

      But it’s exhausting. And our work requires an extra amount of concentration. I can either do the work or I can have this conversation. So, I just tell her that for my own health I have to focus on other things. If there is something specific that I can do right today or right this week I am happy to talk about that. However, barring any of that, I am really maxed out on talking about the state of things. And this is a person I think highly of and very much agree with.

      OP, just say, “Work is my time out from all that. I hope you understand. So how’s your garden/kiddo/puppy doing?” Use redirects to take the conversation elsewhere. If it’s a group of people trying to pull you into a conversation, tell them that work is your respite from all the news reports but you’d be happy to chat about something else.

    4. Reality Biting*

      I could not agree with you more.

      I am the head of a small company with a uniformly liberal workforce. I too am basically liberal; however, nothing gets my goat more than mindless groupthink, especially when it emerges with a captive audience such as in a meeting. It’s very common for people to voice opinions with an “of course we all agree on this” tone. I try to do what I can to redirect the conversation where possible. Often I’m not even thinking about my own disagreement (I often don’t disagree. But I am thinking about that one staff member who may have a different opinion who is now sitting in a hostile environment.

      1. JustaTech*

        Thank you for doing this!
        I’m pretty sure most of my immediate coworkers have similar political opinions, but somehow it feels wrong/off/pushy when the bosses start talking about this or that politician (it’s rarely policies).
        Since the bosses know I generally agree with them I feel like it gives me a little more standing to say “hey, can we not with the politics, please?”

      2. some dude*

        That’s something that worries me about this political moment. Someone will say something and then all of a sudden it becomes the party line/talking point without any real interrogation/investigation. Not to mention there is this weird one-upping thing that happens in white progressive circles where you have to show you are more down and woke than the other white folks. Often it is well-intentioned, but it still kind of creeps me out how all of a sudden everyone will have the same talking points.

      3. Tired of Covid-and People*

        This is the problem with being part of any organization, the tendency to groupthink. I have never agreed 100% with any group I’ve ever belonged to, and will leave if it is a major issue. Otherwise, I take what benefits me and leave the rest alone. Some people have a hard time believing that not everybody in the group accepts all aspects of the group’s beliefs. Even non-cults can be somewhat intolerant of dissent.

    5. Western Rover*

      Not just a spectrum, but perhaps a cloud, where people can have beliefs in many different directions that aren’t necessarily all lined up in one column. I don’t actually know what my co-workers’ beliefs are, but among my extended family I have a traditionally conservative John Bircher type who didn’t vote for Trump last time and won’t this time, and a full-throated Feel the Bern, eat the rich type who isn’t voting for Biden. I know people who are against abortion and against the death penalty. People who are pro 2nd amendment and ACAB. Etc.

      1. 10Isee*

        This. The two-party system is nonsensical and divisive, to the point that a person cannot voice an opinion on one issue without being seen to have taken sides on a number of other, wholly unrelated issues. I have a lot of liberal views with some conservative ones and I’m hardly the only one. Red vs. Blue is a terrible way to decide policy and it isn’t much better as an approach to conversation.

      2. Observer*

        This is true. Which makes the whole “liberal” vs “conservative” thing even less useful.

  7. Renamis*

    I am in a politically diverse company, but honestly I shut it down no matter the party. I point out that with politics as divisive as it is, many people want a break from hearing it all the time, and work is not a place I want to get fired up politically. Usually people drop it.

  8. Analyst Editor*

    I got lucky enough to not be the lone non-progressive in a young, very progressive company, but it was close. I had plenty of very frustrating conversations I had to listen to over cubicle walls, which as far as I could tell were wrong, off-base, and infuriating.
    I think you just have to disengage or signal your disagreement subtly, but without making any aggressive arguments or statements. Usually you make a soft objection to someone’s point and they get that you don’t agree; you don’t have to get into details.
    Luckily I had a couple of people who I could talk to privately, and a couple more who were comfortable having a friendly debate.

    1. Jane*

      Flipping this only sort of works though. I know that when I am in this type of situation from the other side I don’t feel frustrated – I feel a mix of physical danger, ptsd, and a deep seated sense that the people I work with would not see me as human if they knew who I was.

      Subtle disagreement and friendly debate aren’t really options under those sorts of circumstances.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah. When I was a child and Bush was running for a second term I could have a friendly debate with other people too young to vote and ultimately the election did not personally affect me at the time.

        Now, as an adult queer woman who needs, among other things, guaranteed access to birth control and other medical care to survive, we’re not arguing about the national debt, we’re arguing about policies that will kill people, often against people who are willing to enact violence against us.

        Analyst, it’s not comfortable to feel dogpiled, but the rest of us are out here actually afraid for our safety, not just our social standing.

        1. Environmental Compliance*


          I closed my office door and had a frustrated crying spell yesterday after a colleague nonchalantly discussed, among other things:
          – those who are high risk for COVID should just stay home, it’s most important for Coworker to be able to go to bars (yep, that’s a quote)
          – USA should be ran by Good Christian Values (TM) as God intended
          – their church hasn’t experienced any COVID yet, because they are protected (with a heavy implication of “no protection for all you heathens”)

          I chewed him out, but was so angry.

      2. Mouse*

        I really get this, but as a Lone Conservative in my workplace, the #1 thing I wish everyone understood is that I don’t have to agree with the more hateful Republican views to consider myself a conservative on topics like economics, foreign policy, structure of government, etc. I keep my political views to myself because there’s no place in the current Us vs Them dynamic for a lot of us younger conservatives who want to let people live their lives, but also can’t agree with a lot of liberal policies when it comes to actual government.

        1. stiveee*

          If you vote conservative whether or not you agree with their social policies, people whose civil rights are up for debate are going to feel threatened. The 2020 Republican platform includes provisions about overturning gay marriage, and the DOJ is aggressively trying to dismantle or block protections in employment, healthcare and housing. They support the current state of policing. Libertarians would leave peoples’ rights up to the states with no guarantees. Marginalized groups will rightfully feel threatened by that regardless of how you define yourself in theory. Their discomfort stems from fighting for their lives, so I can’t fault them. I know a few conservatives who are voting Democrat because of these issues and you may be one, in which case it’s helpful to signal somehow that you are an ally (if it is safe to do so). Otherwise, people will make assumptions. I know it isn’t fair. If you can be a visible, conservative ally you could do some real good. Didn’t mean to get political-just trying to explain the dynamic.

        2. Quill*

          What Stiveee said, but also…

          The us vs. them dynamic isn’t being created in a vaccum. If you say you want to let people live their lives… well, you can start by not supporting candidates whose platforms run on preventing them from living their lives.

        3. yala*

          I mean, conservative economic policies are just inherently harmful to vulnerable people anyway, so that’s kind of hateful, however politely phrased. People can’t “live their lives” if they’re adversely affected by unjust systems.

          If some of the younger alleged Good Conservatives would effectively drag their party back to center-right at least, maybe there would be something there.

      3. Firecat*

        Removing this because it’s not really addressing the LW’s question and is likely to derail. – Alison

      4. Firecat*

        It’s problematic to assume that conservative talk = saying LGBT, women, POC is non-human.

        That’s generally not true and hasn’t been my experience living in very conservative and Catholic areas as a liberal atheist woman.

        The extreme right holds those views but it’s not accurate to say that someone who is, for example, an out conservative who believes graduated taxation is theft is going to be violent and treat you as a non human.

        This whole it’s ok to be upset when conservatives are talking but not when liberals are talking on this site gets old. It’s not been my experience with the vast majority of conservatives and I’ve literally gotten into screaming fights in the break room during Kavenaughs hearings.

        The violent extremes suck. It’s not the majority of any group though.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Here’s the thing. By voting for a candidate who believes that graduated taxation is theft, you are also very likely voting for a candidate who supports restricting your right to exist as a POC/LGBT/other minority. And that tells me that my life and well being is worth “x% of taxes” to you. It doesn’t matter what your intention is when that is the current reality.

        2. yala*

          “an out conservative who believes graduated taxation is theft is going to be violent and treat you as a non human.”

          There are different kinds of violence and different ways of dehumanizing people. If economic policies you vote for wind up impoverishing vulnerable people and specifically targeting certain demographics (which, they almost always inevitably do), then that’s still a form of violence.

          Similar to how folks focus on the whole “looting” thing that happens as a handful of protests, but when it’s a white collar issue, it just gets shrugged off.

        3. Sacred Ground*

          ” it’s not accurate to say that someone who is, for example, an out conservative who believes graduated taxation is theft is going to be violent and treat you as a non human.”

          This is true. The problem is that as current modern American politics stands, the conservative economic policy party is also the erosion of civil rights for minorities party. To such a voter, who supports the conservative party for its economic policy but abhors their social policies, I’d ask which matters more to them?

          At the very least, they are saying by their vote that their conservative economic policy preference is a greater priority to them than other people’s civil rights and so they vote accordingly. They may be voting for the economic policies but those come with the erosion of other people’s civil rights and liberties and they know this and they’re ok with that. Thus, they enable the erosion of civil rights because they care less about others’ rights than they do about getting their preferred economic policies.

          Sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. are not absolute deal-breakers for them. If it were, they’d be voting differently.

      5. yala*

        For real, tho.

        I’m so past the point of “friendly debate” that anyone trying to have one regarding political issues right now seems unempathetic and cruel. So tired of having to debate my rights, or the rights of my loved ones, let alone having to be “friendly” about it.

    2. a thought*

      Yes, I think this type of approach can be helpful to have a little array of comments like “I see it differently” or “wow” or “hmm”. You don’t have to get into it, but to just signal – I am not on board with what you are saying. (This only works in certain environments where people will not then hound you for a debate).

      But I think the opposite approach can work too… completely detach and pretend you are in a movie or you are a sociologist observing people. Distance yourself from it mentally and don’t try to engage. Create a mantra to yourself like ‘I come here to get paid’ and drown out everything else mentally.

      I feel like either strategy can work, it depends on the person if engaging or distancing feels better for them.

    3. booksbooksmorebooks*

      Echoing Jane. There’s a feeling that I’m in physical danger from certain POVs that see me as sub-human that is really, really hard to turn off. Not to be too political, but broadly, certain views are more likely to create that environment for a broad range of people (poc, lgbtqia+, women, migrants, etc); your threshold for engaging/disengaging sounds like it’s based on a very different experience.

      Recently, overhearing talk about how “Indians” don’t really face medical racism here in Canada and how the system is way too generous to those people and we should privatize healthcare etc etc, when it’s had a direct and hugely negative impact on my family during brain cancer is… painful. I don’t really want to overhear armchair political opinions on healthcare for experiences I have lived, that just about killed my father and left him with more brain damage than we should be dealing with.

      It’s a much more visceral reaction and frankly I shut down. It’s well past frustration that someone might be wrong. And honestly if I snap back I’ve likely been biting my tongue, and I’ll probably do so with some passion and not as subtly as you’d like: it’s so much more painful and personal for me. Your guidelines aren’t very kind. Everyone’s threshold is different and you’re asking people to slot into a very specific box to signal their objection in such prescribed parameters (subtle, not aggressive) that frankly reflects that the stakes aren’t that high for you in these discussions. That distance is a privilege.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        I’m so sorry you are dealing with this – it’s absolutely reprehensible that people would minimize your experiences.

        My own plans for people making pejorative statements or denying other’s lived experience is to ask them how they would feel if they were on the receiving end of those comments / how would they feel if their loved ones (wives, daughters, etc) were treated that way, etc. etc. It’s not ideal, but it does make people stop and think.

        I’ve found it also has worked – with people who are convinced that “there’s no racism here” – to ask them how many people of the particular race in question they’ve spoken with, what do they think those people would say, would they be absolutely comfortable trading places with someone of that race/ethnicity/etc.

        Making it personally relevant seems to be the best way I’ve found to get people to start questioning their thinking.

        1. booksbooksmorebooks*

          It all comes down to personal experience + empathy, doesn’t it? Those are great questions to keep in your back pocket! (Thank you so much, as well.)

    4. Paperwhite*

      The thing is, it’s hard to have a friendly debate about whether or not I should exist or am subhuman. A great deal of what passes for conservative positions these days postulates one or both of these concepts, and it’s not cheerful fun for me to try to defend my own existence, or that of my loved ones.

  9. Amber Rose*

    I just don’t engage. And if anyone tries to talk to me about it I just kinda shrug/laugh and then say, “Oh, I wanted to ask you about [work thing].”

    So my suggestion is to have some kind of vague work thing that you might reasonably want other people’s opinions on to redirect them in direct conversation, and do your best to tune them out otherwise.

    It’s not great but it’s all I got.

    1. EnfysNest*

      With my coworkers, it’s not them engaging directly with me, it’s them loudly discussing with each other out in the hall or in the next office over. Thankfully I’m able to wear headphones and block it out and close my door if it gets especially bad, but OP says that’s not an option for them all the time.

      It’s especially tough when they’re blatantly misrepresenting the other side’s stance, so their argument is against something that’s not even on the table and I want so badly to talk through what that proposal/initiative/etc is actually about, but usually I just go to the blocking-it-out option to avoid the conflict (plus, the Hatch Act applies to us and a lot of times their discussion is right on the line of what’s allowed and what isn’t and I don’t want to get tangled up in any of it, even though they’ve already gone there).

      I do think it would be “safe” to ask your manager to put out a general moratorium on political discussions for at least the next month – just saying that it’s causing you a lot of stress that you don’t want to have to deal with at work doesn’t reveal your political positions one way or another.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      In past jobs I have also been a big fan of the “redirect to other topic” with other topic being anything from work to sports or weather.

      One time I was asked about it – just said I found the all politics all the time incredibly draining, and just wanted to talk about something else

  10. Celeste*

    I think you’re doing all you can short of finding a new job somewhere that attracts progressives. You’re wise not to discuss any of this with them, because things tend to get ugly fast for sensitive people in a group like this.

  11. bubbleon*

    I wouldn’t assume you’re the only person with your beliefs, especially in a city that flipped blue in the last midterms. I’d bet that anyone who agrees with you is keeping quiet for the same reasons you are. Are there any people you trust who might agree with you, or at least be civil enough to have a conversation with instead of talking over you? Those are the people that I’d consider engaging with, you’re never going to get anywhere with the crowd that wants to “own the libs.” Anyone else, I’d probably just go with “I try to stay away from politics at work”

  12. Spicy Tuna*

    During the extended vote count over Bush-Gore in 2000, I worked in an office of rabid Republicans in the state of Florida! It was an open floor plan office without even cubicles! There was ONE lone Democrat in the office besides myself.

    I just focused on my work an didn’t engage with anyone. It was somewhat easy for me to do because I was one of the youngest people in the office, and the only person that was not married with kids, so I already didn’t have a whole lot in common with anyone even before the election. The office building had a really nice lobby with seating areas and tables and I would eat my lunch there to avoid being in the break room. I was attending graduate school part-time so I was able to say I needed to study during lunch.

    If at all possible, just keep every interaction with your co-workers limited to work topics. Try to find somewhere else to eat your lunch or spend break time to avoid non-work related conversations. If people usually gather to get coffee in the morning, try bringing coffee with you to avoid congregating in a break area.

    Also, try to remember… it’s just politics and it’s just work. Even though we spend a TON of time with our co-workers, outside of work, they have no impact or bearing on your life unless you let them. I remember really hating that job and the people that worked there, and it’s now just a distant memory.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      it’s just politics

      Except in this particular situation, we’re talking about things that are and could continue to actively harm a lot of people. This isn’t about whether or not we need to levy a new school tax, it’s about validating the lives of a lot of marginalized people.

      1. Anonymous Right Now*

        Seconding this comment! Without getting overtly political or personal, lawmakers in my country have taken recent action to limit my access to medical care and certain careers based on aspects of my identity. I’m not a political wonk tilting at windmills, I’m someone nervous about my health and safety, and there are a lot of people in the same boat.

        I don’t want to discuss politics at work, even with people who agree with me! Right now, it’s just too personal, painful, and scary.

      2. Amazed*

        We can be completely in the same boat as you when it comes to politics, and still not want to talk about it at work. Some of us just don’t have the spoons for it.

    2. ThatGirl*

      There’s no such thing as “just politics” anymore. The divide is too big, and the policies and people in place are actively affecting millions of people’s lives, livelihoods and rights. I can certainly understand not wanting to talk about it all the time — I don’t either, and I don’t want to have endless discussions even with people who agree with me. But it’s not “just” politics.

      1. Eat*

        Worth remembering other times that the nation was divided as well: civil rights movement, vietnam war (and pretty much every other war after), bush-gore controversy, et cetera.

        We all got through that (or your parents/grandparents did).
        There may yet be hope :)

        1. Remedial Chaos Theory*

          We didn’t all get through that, though. A lot of marginalized folks definitely did not get through that. Look at our comparative lack of LGBTQIA+ elders, for example — and yet people say “we survived Reagan”.

        2. ThatGirl*

          As Chc34 points out, not everyone DID “get through it” or will get through this. Tens of thousands of people died of AIDS in the 80s. 220,000 people and counting have died of COVID. People have died in detention centers, of drug overdoses, due to lack of medical insurance or care, etc., etc.

    3. TiffIf*

      There’s a scene in the new Enola Holmes film on Netflix where Sherlock says he finds politics boring and the person he is talking to basically says “its easy to ignore politics or find it boring when the entire system is built to keep you comfortable.”

      “It’s just politics” is only ever said by those who benefit from the status quo.

      1. Amazed*

        It’s one thing to say ‘It’s just politics’ outside of work. It’s another entirely to say ‘this is work, I have enough on my plate and not very many spoons, I don’t need politics adding to it right now’.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        All the more reason not to want to talk about it at work, with people whose views OP knows to be opposite of theirs, some of whom are in a position of power over the OP.

        1. TiffIf*

          Absolutely–I wasn’t saying it should be talked about at work, but the original comment said “Also, try to remember… it’s just politics and it’s just work. Even though we spend a TON of time with our co-workers, outside of work, they have no impact or bearing on your life unless you let them.”

          Saying “it’s just politics and it’s just work” and then saying outside of work these work people have no impact on your life unless you let them, implies a similar sentiment that politics doesn’t impact your life unless you let it.

  13. Dust Bunny*

    I say I don’t follow it that closely (which is a lie, but whatever) and change the subject. Yeah, I have zero reservations about fibbing about this; there is only so much I can take and it’s harder for them to escalate if I don’t give them traction.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      For the record: At this point I need a break even from people with whom I agree. I’m just out of mental energy. So some of it might be disagreement, but at least some of it is plain old burnout.

    2. EnfysNest*

      I had a coworker at my first job out of college who would directly ask me my opinion on something controversial fairly often and when I said anything like “I haven’t been following that” or “I’d have to do more research to have a solid opinion”, he would just give his own summary of it and then continue to press for my opinion (obviously indicating that he wanted me to agree with his viewpoint). And even when I finally convinced him to give up on that front, he would then turn it into a rant about how important it is to be informed about current events and such and basically indicate I was negligent for not having an opinion. I wish I’d had the confidence and the scripts for setting boundaries at that time to tell him it was none of his business and I just wasn’t going to discuss any of it with him, because it was completely exhausting and stressful.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I also have zero reservations about saying I’m busy and walking away. I mean, we *are* at work.

      2. Nea*

        “I appreciate how important this is to you but please stop trying to sway me to your position. I will come to my own when I have had time to read the relevant law/bill/articles and have the data for an informed opinion, not an emotional one.”

        It’s clunky, but it has worked for me.

        A shorter version, especially when someone is really going on about something is “Can you point me to the relevant law/bill/articles? I want to know where you’re coming from” (and then be “too busy with fill-in-the-work-tasking to read these right now.”)

      3. comityoferrors*

        Man…not a coworker, but I cut ties with a friend because he became extremely pushy about politics and refused to talk about anything else, ever. We agreed on the issues, but I’m pretty politically active in my personal life (activism/volunteering, engaged with community groups) so I wanted a break to just talk about movies and stuff. He would berate me for being stupid and “uninvolved”. This MFer didn’t even vote in the general election. I tried to address the behavior directly and got berated more, so, no more contact with that guy!

        If I had to deal with that at work?? We’d have…Words. That is supremely obnoxious and unacceptable behavior.

    3. Mel_05*

      Yes. I have a boss who loves to bring up controversial stuff and you cannot ever be sure of where he’ll land on an issue so it’s particularly fraught. I always say that I don’t follow the issue closely, even though I often do.
      I just do not ever want to get into those topics at work, but he thinks they’re fun conversation starters.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Some people get their energy from controversy. This is a parallel to the people who get their energy from drama. Some people need controversy/drama to push themselves through their work day.

        1. Lora*

          I wish such individuals had the self awareness to realize that this is their personal problem, and why the Lord invented coffee, brisk walks at break time and looking at pictures of animals on the internet. So we can all drag ourselves through the day without negatively affecting others in our immediate surroundings.

          I know I wish it in vain, but I still wish it.

            1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

              What is a “cinema snob type outlet”?

              Asking for a friend…

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Uh, actually they do have that self-awareness sometimes. I worked with a person who said, “I need gossip to get through my day. I have no energy and gossip gives me energy.”

            After self-awareness, comes motivation. They need motivation to change what they are doing.

      2. Quill*

        I had a boss who just liked to hold forth. If politics hadn’t been a topic the last year I worked there, he would have continued to lecture us all about how it was best to cook in a sus vide machine (Those are kinda expensive boss, are you sure you’re paying us well enough?) or which kinds of hunting and fishing were “too restricted” or why, after I bought a car, I should have gone with Lexus and not a ford (With WHAT money, boss? Seriously. You know how much you pay me.)

        I got fired from there in 2017 and I do NOT miss him.

  14. Spaceball One*

    I generally shy away from weighing in with my political views. Like you, I am in the minority at work with my progressive views. However, I have developed a couple of lines that I use when someone says something politically awful TO ME directly. Usually they are clearly expecting/assuming agreement. I reckon at that point I owe it to my own integrity not to make that assumption so easy for them. Here is what I say:

    “That has not been my experience.”
    “I am not a good audience for this.”

    It is a HUGE pet peeve when people just assume everyone else thinks the way they think. If you think BLM is a criminal movement, women need to grow a thicker skin, masks are for chickens, or whatever — yeah, I don’t owe it to you to contribute to your comfortable bubble at work. Find a new audience. I’m not going to throw a fit and risk it backfiring on me, but I’m not going to make this easy or fun for you. (I would throw a fit if it ever went from Occasional Snark into harassment, but so far that has never happened.)

    1. Lilisonna*

      I really like “I am not a good audience for this” as a response. I may need to adopt that. There’s still room for “Oh, but whyyyyyy?” but it’s neutral, short, and conveys disapproval without being eye-rolly.

      1. NoSleepTillHippo*

        I’d love to respond to the “but WHYYYYY” with something like “You’re smart, I’ll bet if you think about it you could find several reasons why someone might be the wrong audience for that comment” + SASHAY AWAY.

        I admit this is likely to backfire in many spectacular ways, but dang it looks good in my head :)

      2. Remedial Chaos Theory*

        I do like this response, but I wouldn’t use it in what could easily turn into a hostile environment that I would still have to work in. That as good as spells out “I don’t think what you think”, and in the situation OP is in, I would absolutely not risk it.

    2. AKchic*

      These are great lines to use. If you’re asked why or to elaborate on your statement, a simple “I don’t discuss politics at work, it’s not why I’m here” or “politics are a minefield, and I find that it keeps working relationships more civil that way”.

    3. Washi*

      These are great. I would never make a blanket statement that people have an obligation to push back when they hear certain types of remarks because each person’s situation and risk-vs.-reward is so different. However, I can say that as a white person with a good amount of capital at my workplace, I do feel it’s important to speak up on issues of race, for example. I ignore a lot of the partisan stuff, but when someone says something where they are obviously assuming that because we are both white we obviously agree, being silent just gives them tacit approval. I don’t try to necessarily convince them they are wrong, but I make it clear that I absolutely do not agree.

      Again, I understand not everyone is in a position to do this, but overall, I think those of us with privilege should push back when we can.

    4. Pipe Organ Guy*

      We’ve been guilty of that where I work (a very, very progressive church), and when we discovered that one of our staff is quite conservative politically, it was a learning experience. I’ve learned to keep conversation with her nonpolitical, but it’s been a struggle for the staff member who shares an office with her. It’s a challenge, but even in a place like ours, for everyone’s good, we need to tone down the political at-work conversation.

    5. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I agree with you and have my own “You and I have different thoughts/feelings on this issue” said blandly. If they ever press for more of a response I simply change the subject or just let the silence hang there until they walk away.

      1. Some Lady*

        +1 to “That has not been my experience.” It both pushes back on the idea that the idea being expressed is universally correct and accepted but refrains from being a personal attack on anyone. It’s also natural to follow that with changing the subject.

    6. old curmudgeon*

      I especially like the response “I am not a good audience for this” because there can be multiple reasons why that is so.

      Maybe it’s because I haven’t read up on it.

      Maybe because it involves a description of potential or actual violence and is triggering my PTSD.

      Maybe it’s because I think you are a glassbowl and don’t want to waste a moment of my life listening to you bloviate.

      Maybe it’s because I ate a bad taco last night and need to run to the restroom.

      Or maybe it’s something completely else – the beauty of the phrase is that it DOESN’T include a reason, just that I am not a good audience.

      Thanks for sharing this – I will add it to my standard library of stock phrases!

      1. Spaceball One*

        Haha, yes! All/any of the above. What I have found is that it just rips the rug right out from under the unwelcome topic without it being personal in any way. It offers no reason, invites no argument, doesn’t point a finger in either direction. It’s just a conversational record-scratch.

      2. Remedial Chaos Theory*

        In my experience, most folks assume the reason to be “I hold the opposite belief”, and do not read any of these nuanced reasons into it.

  15. CTT*

    This is a real “your mileage may vary” one, but I wanted to throw it out there. While I was not the lone progressive at my former workplace, I was one of the very few on my floor. People tended to make political comments in a very “this is an uncontroversial statement because we are all in agreement!” way. The other two progressives wouldn’t push back, which is totally their prerogative, but I think it reinforced that feeling. One day, I was in a meeting and someone made a passing comment in support of an issue that I opposed, and for some reason that was the day I’d had enough so I piped up that I disagreed. This was not an issue that I am really educated about, so it was not a brilliant counter-argument, and the conversation fizzled out pretty quickly. But that put a stop to those sort of political comments, because I think it really had not occurred to them until then that someone might not agree with their views.

    I think if your coworkers are the same as mine, where they think of this as like talking about something benign because everyone’s on the same page, it may be worth bringing it up that you disagree.

    1. Archie Goodwin*

      This can work, but it depends on how well you get along otherwise.

      My experience has been in social settings rather than at work, but I have faced this issue once in a while as my politics are definitely not in step with those of many in my social circle. So once in a while they’ll start making a string of comments, and I’ll just raise my eyebrows slightly and say, “You DO remember I’m [x], and voted for [y] in the last election?” That usually causes it to sputter out.

      Of course, they generally seem to like me in the first place, independent of my politics. So that helps. It really depends on the kind of capital you’re willing to spend.

      1. Elenia25*

        Yes, if I feel like spending the capital, I will sometimes mention I am an immigrant if someone is expressing strong anti-immigrant views. That usually indicates which “camp” I am in and shuts down further conversation.
        I am also extremely pleasant and mostly well-liked so it comes across smoothly.

    2. This user name is mine and you can't have it.*

      Agreed. I have a bit of social anxiety and don’t normally speak up at work but a few months ago, while we were still in the office, one of the usual pot stirrers started in with her thoughts on the me too movement, lyrics changing to old holiday songs, and confederate statues coming down. I could feel myself seething as she talked and realized that nobody else was going to say anything so I called her out on it. It was hard but I stayed professional and respectful. Of course, it outed me as the liberal in my office, but I felt so much better about myself and my workplace after, especially since she immediately became uncomfortable and started back pedaling on her rant. And, interestingly, several people approached me after to thank me for saying something because they felt very intimidated by this woman and didn’t have the courage to say something. You may be in the minority, but it’s very likely there are more like you in the workplace than you realize.

    3. Maeve*

      I’m a big fan of just quickly and matter-of-factly explaining why an issue matters to me personally, it often makes people shut up. Obviously doesn’t work for every issue, you’re being open about your views which not everyone wants, and you could definitely end up in a longer unwanted discussion but it’s a lot harder and more uncomfortable for people to argue with you when you make it personal.

      “Oh actually I can’t support politicians who don’t think I have a right to marry my partner, we’re hoping to get married next year and that’s really important to me.”

      “Oh when I got SNAP when I suddenly lost my job I was just really grateful for it, I might have ended up homeless otherwise.”

      “My partner is a international adoptee, can you believe that if her parents hadn’t done her citizenship paperwork right when she was four years old she could be deported? It’s so scary to think about! All of her friends and family are here and she doesn’t know a word of Korean!”

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        That seems like good advice generally, though if this OP wants to keep her progressivism to herself, I don’ t think she would want to mention these things…

        1. Maeve*

          Yeah, it doesn’t sound like it’s what the OP wants to do, but figured it might be useful for other people.

      2. Paperwhite*

        This is true, but it depends. I have had people tell me to my face that I am a leech on society, that I support murder, and (best of all) I’m not “like” other Black/queer/female people so I don’t understand why they’re all terrible because I am the ‘fortunate’ exception. And I definitely know that being a liberal with conservative superiors meant they judged my job performance according to my politics. I deeply admire people brave enough to push back, but I have experienced some of the costs.

        1. Maeve*

          Oh absolutely. Not saying there can’t be consequences for responding that way. Sorry you’ve had to deal with that.

      3. Remedial Chaos Theory*

        At Old Toxic Job, I reminded a coworker I’m an immigrant in a situation like this. Coworker’s response — “You know I didn’t mean you! You’re one of the good ones, and your English is great.”

      4. iiii*

        A friend of mine was going on about what terrible leeches welfare mothers are. I finally told him, “Look, it’s a free country, and you can say what you want, but I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t talk about my mother like that right in front of me.”
        “But I didn’t mean *your* mother…”
        “She was a mother, and she took welfare, so when you talk about welfare mothers you’re talking about her. Who did you think you were talking about?”
        He clammed right up.

    4. Lils*

      I agree this can be effective. It does depend on how much capital you’re willing to spend, as people said. I am often willing to be blunt and quote-unquote rude by disrupting conversations. I think it’s important to do this when people make assumptions you’re in agreement with them. (White people from the Southern US states will know what I mean–other white people often make racist statements assuming you’ll agree.) As others have pointed out, you’re also speaking up for others who don’t agree.

      I have prevented all future conversations on a topic by embarrassing the speaker. For example, someone was going on and on about politics, I kept trying to redirect the conversation, and then he used a very nasty term for a person with my political beliefs to my face. I smiled brightly and said, “You know, you’re talking to a [slur].” The person’s face went white, he stammered, and never, ever brought politics up around me again. Obviously this has to be done when you’re beyond caring about the consequences.

  16. bunniferous*

    You don’t even have to disagree with the views of the majority in your office to be tired of political talk in general. I guarantee there are conservatives in that office who are sick of it all too. What I would do is just tell folks that all the political talk is getting overwhelming for you and you want to focus on work to get away from it for awhile. That along with the omnipresent reminders to “Go Vote!!!” from literally all sides including social media is driving me up the wall personally, and I work from home! You have my sympathy. It sounds like sheer hell.

    1. Quill*

      “Go Vote!” versus the logistics I’m arranging now, after my mail in ballot was delayed, to arrange a ballot witness (I live alone) and deliver my ballot in time for it to be counted, in a state where the supreme court may just throw another tantrum about mail in votes just in time for the ballots to not be reported…

  17. Jessa*

    This is a great thread for both sides. I’m in California and I feel the same, however I am more conservative.

  18. Original Poster*

    I wanted to jump in with an update. I sent this a year ago and a lot has changed. I was let go from this company in April due to Covid (oil/gas industry). However that does not change that this type of situation is happening to others. So do not dwell on the smaller details that I shared. Love this site and the commentariat! Thanks Alison for sharing my letter! This advice will be useful in future circumstances.

    1. Lora*

      Oh god, the energy industry…I did a stint in biofuels (mostly full of hippies, but intersects frequently with BP and other energy industry companies that have biofuels initiatives). One day we had a potential partnership all day meeting with a German engineering firm that specialized in building oil/gas refineries in the North Sea. They did not know I spoke German. Meeting location was Texas, where naturally there are lots of Latino folks.
      German Guy 1, in German: They seem nice. Intelligent.
      German Guy 2, also in German: Yes, but I don’t know how they get anything done with all these brown people around.
      We did not partner with them, obviously. My head whipped around and I said I’m sorry WHAT? And they laughed like they were sharing a joke but the meeting wrapped up quickly after that. I did have to wonder though, when you are in the OIL industry, the oil is mostly located in countries that are definitely not at all full of white people. Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Syria are not known for their NPR tote bags and pumpkin spice lattes.

      1. Observer*

        I just had to re-read this 3 times. What on EARTH?!

        I guess these idiots had spent so much time in the North Sea that they somehow forgot how much of the world’s oil gets pumped by “brown” people. But still, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

        You dodged a huge bullet there.

      2. saf*

        In the 80s, Dad went to Germany on business. He brought me back a Star Trek comic book in German! (Big Star Trek fan, taking German classes in high school.)

        Uhura was white and blonde.

    2. Paperwhite*

      Thank you for asking this question. I struggled with and suffered under this when I was in that situation, and I’ve found several good suggestions in the comments I’m keeping in case I ever end up in this situation again. (Also all good luck at your new job!)

  19. singularity*

    I also live in a red state, but my coworkers are a blend of progressive and conservative. If there are times when you can’t escape to your office or wear headphones, I would do like other’s suggested and say you aren’t comfortable discussing politics/the elections/news at work and then change the subject to something directly work related, preferably something that fires them up, like, “Did you see what Sally did for X project?” or “The deadline for Y product has been moved *again* can you believe it?”

    If those fail, I would simply give very little response in return to their statements, such as:
    “OP, did you hear about this terrible election fraud thing? The progressives are trying to steal the election!!”
    “I did hear about that. How’s your son doing?”

    Obviously, change the subject to something ~less~ political/controversial/current events/election related. You might have to repeat yourself several times, but eventually people will realize you aren’t the person they get to talk to about this.

  20. Moneypenny*

    I’m a moderate who works with many progressives and while philosophically we hold similar beliefs, the methods we support for how to get there can be quite different. After the last election, our director held a team meeting so people could share their feelings. To be honest, I thought it was inappropriate, because it 100% assumed that everyone was feeling the same emotions about the election. Also, a conference room full of coworkers is not the place to cry about your fears for the future. Yet, I wouldn’t be able to mention this, because it could be seen as belittling the feelings of my coworkers, which I also didn’t want to do. So, I did the only thing available to me. I shut my mouth and tuned out. If people want to believe that their beliefs are held universally, you are unlikely to change their mind. You could try to let them know you don’t share the same beliefs, but know in the end, that when people discuss politics at work it’s not because they want a debate or to have a philosophical discussion. It’s an echo chamber, as much as social media, because neither venue can provide the support that’s needed to facilitate an open and productive discussion.

    Sorry, this isn’t entirely helpful. A mantra of keep your head down and do your work isn’t comforting, I realize. But I think if you’re able to distance yourself from the discussions taking place and realize that disagreeing with philosophical beliefs of your coworkers will not create change, you’ll feel less frustrated by the conversation. (That said, if your colleagues were discussing harmful, toxic, degrading beliefs that would be a different story…. but not all conservatives are bigots, just as not all progressives are unpatriotic socialists)

  21. IndustriousLabRat*

    I work in a similarly conservative workplace and typically just brush off any comments that seem to require input with, “ehhhh…. I’ve never felt comfortable discussing politics or religion at work; hey how’s X project coming along?”. I know the advice to try to tune it out is obvious and probably not too helpful, and I know too how tough it can be to grit one’s teeth and try not to say something… but sometimes, it’s all I can do without drawing attention to myself as an outlier. I avoid the break room like the plague it is, and try to bury myself in work and jazz. If there’s a non-political conversation to be had, I’ll happily chat about Can The Pats Really Be Any Good Post-Brady? I don’t want to become the office grouch, just avoid the prickly stuff. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this too.

  22. Alice*

    I have no advice for OP, just sympathy.
    For commenters who are recommending that OP ask colleagues or HR to reduce/eliminate political discussion: that’s pretty hard. Sure, you can say, let’s not talk about candidate X or court decision Y. But “politics” is not somehow separated from the rest of life. Government and politics are embedded in life. I work in research support at a university; government policies and politics affect my work all the time.

    1. Original Poster*

      Thank you for your kind words. I actually was the HR person at this company, but was trying to hide my identity when I wrote the letter. One of the worst instigators was actually my supervisor (C-suite leadership), so I never felt a policy would be supported.

        1. Original Poster*

          Thanks!! I was let go due to Covid. I am in a new company which I think is better, but hard to say. At least we’ll be work-from-home for the rest of the year, so no election chaos for me. But I’ll never escape it fully!

    2. Observer*

      Sure, there are some workplaces where politics is more embedded. But even there, there is a lot that doesn’t really have to be there.

      I work in a non-profit that has a lot of government contracts. So, I get what you are saying. But there is still absolutely no need to discuss a whole swath of issues in the office. In fact, I would say that about 90% of the stuff that’s showing up in the news and on most people’s feeds, really have no true relevance to what we do in the office.

      1. Original Poster*

        It just came up randomly. Like we’d be discussing our medical renewal and someone would just say something crappy about poor people or the ACA. That’s what made me think they couldn’t believe they were saying controversial statements.

    3. ReadyNPC3*

      This. Everything is political. To echo the point, a lot of industries depend on government subsidies and rulings. The company I work for tried to have us send emails to our senators to get them to vote on something that was favorable to the company.
      Advicewise, I volunteer outside of work for the party I support and that helps alleviate the constant drumbeat I hear during the work day. It really helped me to know that the world isn’t just one sided.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I have gotten so that I hate the word “political” because it has become a crutch and a catchall where people throw their hands up in despair and hopelessness.

  23. Rubes*

    You don’t have to out yourself as liberal to say something like “oh man I’m so sick of politics! Can we please talk about anything else?”

    1. Sharky polastry*

      I was thinking something similar.
      When a discussion gets particularly heated, pull out the “we can all agree this is a BIG DEAL” card, and acknowledge that its a heated issue without indicating one’s stance and then do the “see this cute dog pic or this funny meme” trick.

  24. McMurdo*

    Ugh, I dealt with this a lot over the summer. I definitely tried to avoid conversation about politics, and went grey-rock if I had to, basically just going “Hmm.” in a completely neutral tone whenever people said things I disagreed with. Maybe not the most professional option, but I don’t think they were being very professional either!

    The other tactic I would take is saying something compassionate about “both sides.” Let’s say…. we’re discussing whether another tax should be levied on llama ranchers to provide funding for schools. I might say something like “It’s really unfortunate that schools are in such dire need of funding, and that llama ranchers will see a reduced profit margin on their livelihood.” Absolutely no value judgements, nothing about whether it’s a good solution, no political alignment, just “this sucks.” You could also do benefits, if you can think of some. I think this tactic is best for when you physically can’t leave, like if you have to be in the car with someone. I also would only do this when I could genuinely empathize with both sides, not if the question was like “should we let this guy kill people?”

    But definitely your best bet is to disengage from these types of conversations. Maybe start carrying a water bottle around and oops! Every time they start talking politics you just HAVE to get some fresh cold water.

  25. MissFinance*

    “I’d rather not discuss this; I don’t feel that this is a productive conversation to have in a work environment” *politely extracts self from conversation*

    If it continues “My political beliefs are personal and I’d rather not discuss them in this scenario. I appreciate you respecting that.”

  26. Dave*

    I feel like being able to put a face to “these people” is an opportunity if you feel comfortable. You could remind them that these are real people – like yourself! – that have these beliefs and it’s one thing to disagree but another entirely to insult and demean whole groups of people. To be honest, I don’t know if I would feel comfortable doing this unless I knew it wouldn’t affect my ability to do my job. Checking in with management or HR would be a great first step.

    1. kaittydidd*

      I like to do that sometimes – come out when people assume that because they like me I must agree with them on just about everything. Mostly I come out as atheist because where I live it’s the least fraught invisible thing about me. It can be fun. If I’m polite about it and use a tone that implies this is fun information and aren’t we having fun together people usually leave looking really thoughtful. That’s the best I hope for, honestly.

  27. asdfsdf*

    I have the same work environment. I literally have to just hide in my office. When I get forced into an interaction, I try to interject and say I can’t really handle any more talk about the election right now, and walk away.

  28. Stephen!*

    Ooof. I also work in a similar situation, and now have a strained relationship with one coworker who kept making really inflammatory remarks. I ended up telling him we had different political leanings and it would be better to not talk politics. Did I mention that this was in my training period and we were trapped together all day in a vehicle? Yeah… I wish I had a good answer, but even when I tried to be upbeat about it, it didn’t work out well.

  29. Ominous Adversary*

    How well do you get along with these people otherwise – do they have a clue that you’re the blue sheep of the office, or do they think of you as a friend because it hasn’t occurred to them that you think differently? Sometimes people will learn to at least shut up in embarrassment if they realize they’re insulting their friends.

    You could also try the Miss Manners leveraging, where you put them in the position of either shutting up or grossly violating a social norm. “Hey, I understand people can have strong views on politics, but my mom/my dad supports that candidate/issue.” If they don’t immediate get the hint that dissing your beloved relative is an insult, you can add “I love them very much, and it’s really not nice to hear someone who doesn’t even know them call them names or say they’re a terrible person.” Not many people will go the extra step of saying HELL YEAH and insulting your parents, because that’s considered extremely rude, and if they do they’re going to look bad even to other co-workers who would agree with them politically.

    1. Bookartist*

      It feels like a very immature position. I don’t care what anybody’s parents think and if anyone try to use that argument on me, I would really loose respect for them.

      1. Aldabra*

        I think it could work, and it’s not immature. It doesn’t have to be parents, it could be any loved one. Sibling, spouse, child. And the point is not that you’re expected to care about that other person that you don’t know; it’s that hopefully you don’t want to hurt the feelings of your coworker, who has just told you it’s painful to hear you insult someone they love.

        1. pancakes*

          I’m inclined to agree with Bookartist that it’s still at least a bit immature—or oddly coy?—to try to shift the topic of conversation on account of someone who isn’t present. It’s much more direct to say something along the lines of, “I prefer not to talk about politics at work”’or “I’m so tired of all this politics talk,” and doing so doesn’t raise questions of whether the person making the request has a sort of James Carville & Mary Matalin relationship with their loved one who isn’t present.

  30. Brett*

    Having been in a similar situation previously… (working law enforcement in red state, but in the bluest region of that red state)

    Don’t assume you are the only progressive.

    The fact is that everyone has complex politics, and when you have an environment where a certain political bent dominates conversation, other people will talk about the specific areas of their politics that meshes more with the overall environment.

    That doesn’t mean that everyone else agrees with everything that is said, but it does mean they will only voice the areas where they agree and not the areas where they disagree.

    So what did I do? I asked my boss to help shut down the conversation, and he did. (Pretty much by just saying, “Hey, knock off the political chatter.”). If your boss is a conservative, she will be even more effective at shutting down the conversation as that will make it more clear it is about politics in the workplace rather than just political stance. If your boss is something else, she probably would like just as much as you for the political talk to go away, and having a direct report express discomfort gives her more reason to shut it down.

    This worked despite the fact that my boss was engaging in some of the political chatter. Just by asking about it, it helped him see that it was too much. Obviously this depends greatly on your relationship with your boss and your boss being a decent person, but it can still work even if your boss is part of the political talk.

  31. Posie*

    Is your question that you’d like to push back on the idea that everyone agrees with the discussion? Or are you looking for ways to continue to dodge the situation all together? For the former, I don’t believe everyone agrees with one political view, even if your office is primarily of one bent (just take a look around the room at the other people staying quiet). However, if you’d like to push back, I’m not sure how you’d do that without giving away your personal political stance other than pointing out that both sides make valid points and it’s not helpful to disparage our country’s leaders – we the people put them there. For the latter, try some of the following:

    Change the topic:
    “Politics are a touchy subject – hey, did you hear about ___?”
    “Ooof – sounds like this conversation just got heavy, did I tell you about the funny thing that happened to my yesterday?”
    “Actually, I had a work question for you: ___”

    Make an exit:
    “Thankfully we live in a country where everyone is allowed to have and express their own opinions. Gotta get back to my desk!”
    “There’s always two sides to every issue. Running late for a meeting!”

    Be direct:
    “I am actually worn out by politics at the moment – is it possible for us to find other topics to discuss?”
    “I don’t want to speak for everyone, but 2020 has been a handful. Can we instead focus on a happier topic for the next few weeks?”
    “Between the news and the craziness of this year, I’m actually feeling pretty run down by all the negativity and controversy. Would you mind limiting political conversations in common spaces?” (This one depends on your standing in relation to the other person)
    (these are all going to be far more effective if combined with a recommendation for the new topic)

    Raise the issue:
    You could also consider recruiting some fellow coworkers who would rather avoid political conversations in the office (I guarantee you’re not the only one, even if they have a different political stance than you, you can still join forces).
    – For example, my HR team has been very proactive in providing conversation topics like people’s pets, gardening efforts, movie recommendations, etc. to help guide some happier conversations on Teams.
    – Or you could as a group approach your boss and say that the political talk is affecting the work environment – perhaps the boss can address the team to offer a reminder that a lot of people are already experiencing tremendous stress this year and that politics talk is not welcomed by all.

  32. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

    I’m in a red state in a relatively conservative field (accounting/finance). The HR manager and I are the lone liberals. Directly across from my office are two very opinionated, very politically conservative women. I’ve never been so happy to have a door before. I don’t even engage – clearly neither of us is going to be swayed by the other, and I don’t like debating for hoots and giggles, so…. *puts in headphones until January*

  33. LifeBeforeCorona*

    If you are listenting to extended conversations disparaging one side or another can it be seen as a hostile workplace? Substitue the political party with Black, gay, poor, physically disabled, mentally challenged for the rhetoric. ie: All “people” are lazy, criminals, unpatriotic, entitled, uneducated etc.”

  34. Panda*

    I feel the same way as the only conservative in a liberal leaning state and a very liberal company. Sigh. I usually just do not talk about it and ignore the inflammatory language of people. I wish I felt comfortable speaking up but I don’t. Working from home is helping a lot but some of the mass emails coming from the senior leadership can be a bit condescending. I just ignore it and do my job.

  35. Massmatt*

    I sympathize, I am in a blue state but my industry trends conservative. I’m not exactly known for my tact so years ago when people started in on how Iraq was behind 9/11, and they found the weapons of mass destruction there, or the Obama birther nonsense, I was not shy about arguing about it. After a while it became very tiring (and it’s rare for anyone’s mind to be changed) so I rarely engage in that sort of thing anymore.

    I would recommend keeping your engagement minimal. Say “I don’t agree, but I prefer not to get into politics at work” or something along those lines vs: talking about how it makes you anxious or things of that nature. The latter feeds into conservative tropes about how liberals “just can’t take it” and so on.

  36. Elenna*

    If “hey, I’m sick of politics, how about that [subject change]” doesn’t work or feels too much like outing yourself, there’s the option of wearing headphones while at work and playing loud music so you can at least pretend the conversations aren’t happening…

  37. Politics do not belong here*

    I asked a similar question on last week’s open thread.

    I am lucky enough to have a coworker who shares my view that politics should be checked at the door (we work in healthcare). The best advice he gave me was to try to view it the same way I would any other workplace issue. How does this affect my work and (in our case) how does this impact patients. Much easier said than done but it has helped me frame it in a less stressful way.

  38. ThursdaysGeek*

    One thing that might help is to make sure you don’t see them as just a label or a side, but as individuals with individual concerns and who care about people. A big part of the division is the othering of the the other side, and people from both sides are quite able to feel any disdain from opponents. You’re staying quiet, so you’re only hearing the othering against you, and that’s hard. Both sides have been shown a lot of contempt from the other. We need to look for what unites us, instead of what divides us. But work is for work.

    So, if you do speak up, something vague and uniting, and then change the subject, like “people on the left care about this country too, but political talk at work can be divisive, and I need to ask about the TPS reports anyway.”

  39. AndersonDarling*

    I try to steer the conversation toward political issues and not politicians. When I hear, “Bla bla bla, big bad politician,” I follow with, “I’m very concerned in what is happening with healthcare because…”
    I have successfully turned b!tching about a politician into a solid discussion about political issues. Many times there is an actual person worried about their future behind all the ranting, and you just need to give them an opportunity to have a discussion…because we have kind of forgotten how to do that.
    I also remember that when someone assumes that I share their views, it’s actually a compliment. They consider me as a friend and automatically think that we share the same mind. I may vehemently disagree with their views, and want to smack them for including me in their conspiracy bubble, but then I take a breath and remember that they are trusting me with their opinion.

  40. Black*

    Been there done that. I once worked for an organization that was so conservative they had a picture of Nathan Bedford Forrest hanging from the wall. For those who aren’t familiar that was the first Grand wizard of the KKK. So my method to not discuss political issues was developed quite quickly. I simply said “I don’t discuss politics or religion” and walked away from any conversation that contained either subject. In the rare instances it came up in a meeting I simply redirected the meeting back to the subject at hand. “Okay let’s get back on track” was all it usually took.

    You can’t stop people from talking about it but you can refuse to take part in it.

      1. pancakes*

        The comment isn’t saying there isn’t. It’s saying “I have experience working with people whose politics were palpably different from mine, and here’s what worked for me in that setting.”

        1. Observer*

          You also said that they were “so conservative that they had a picture of the founder of the KKK on their wall.”

          I’m pushing back on that equation.

          1. pancakes*

            No, I didn’t. I don’t agree with your reading of the comment that did as equating the two, but that’s neither here nor there.

  41. Mel_05*

    I used to work in a place where people assumed everyone held fairly similar political & religious views. And I fit with the majority, but I knew that one of our coworkers didn’t, just by the things she didn’t say. I think I’m the only one who noticed and I tried to steer conversations away from those topics when I could, but no one else noticed or cared that she didn’t engage with it. And I think if she had said that politics was stressing her out they would have obliged and changed the subject.

  42. Bookworm*

    Self-care, first and foremost. Is there any higher up you can go to and explain that you are genuinely exhausted by all of this? I’m pretty sure regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, a lot of us are truly, genuinely tired. You can pick: pandemic, politics, this particular year, etc. That maybe keeping such chatter might be a good idea to tone a bit, etc.?

    If not? I’m sorry. I assume this might be a situation where you can’t necessarily leave (especially right now I know it’s difficult), too. And in that case, I’d re-up (although I’d guess you probably know) that do whatever it takes to self-care in your non-work life. Hobbies, binge-watching, nature adventures if you can swing it, etc. Whatever helps you get through these next couple of weeks. Good luck.

  43. Just a PM*

    Is it an option to take it to the higher-ups in the organization? This happened at OldJob in the 2016 election. It was uncomfortable enough that several people talked to our Chief of Staff about it. He sent out an email advising caution on political discussions (framed it as Hatch Act reminders — we are feds) but couldn’t police it. The super-outspoken people kept having their political discussions and drawing others into debates but the email did empower everyone else to disengage more freely so the politics talk fizzled out quickly.

  44. Lizy*

    I’m in a pretty (ok, a REALLY) conservative area. Like, there was a drive-by Trump rally the other weekend that ended with 100+ cars. For prospective, my town has 800 people. So there’s that.

    Anyhow – while I’m conservative in private, I believe what others do is really none of my business and if you want to marry someone it doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, trans, poly, or purple with yellow eyes – you should have that right. (Among other things…)

    The way I’ve been handling it is a combination of avoiding conversations, or just saying “I’m staying out of it” or “I prefer to keep politics to myself” or something along those lines. I haven’t had to really defend myself, but I think if I did I would just reiterate that “I know it’s a hot topic and I’m staying out of the discussions.”

  45. Frenchie too*

    Here is a long version of my prepared mini-speech:
    “I have friends who are Republicans, I have friends who are Democrats, those who are Libertarian, and non-political. Any time you insult one of these groups, you are insulting someone that I care about. Please don’t.
    I also have friends who are Catholics, Protestants, Non-Denominational Christians, Jewish, Muslim, Scientologists, Buddhists, agnostic, atheists. So, please don’t insult those or any other religious groups in my presence, because you will be insulting someone who matters to me.
    The same applies to different ethnicities and nationalities. Please, just don’t insult others in my presence. I will return the favor.”
    It helps that I work in a place that prohibits any type of partisan politicking. But, if someone presses you, just repeat yourself. I would suggest not expressing your political preferences. Not because you don’t have a right to them, but because it will reduce the stress of confrontations.

    1. TotallyNormal*

      I love this! It doesn’t out your own beliefs, but it politely points out that we all know someone who sees things differently. “Saying that insults people I care about” may become my new mantra!

      1. Frenchie too*

        :) Thanks!
        We have a contract employee where I work who loves to make inflammatory comments in “private” conversation, but loud enough for others to hear. When I’m angry, my looks could kill. He’s flat out said, in front of me, that he is scared of me and won’t tell me anything. He wisely keeps his distance from me.
        Yet, I’ve never actually said anything to him. My super power is dirty looks!
        But, if you ask anyone else they will tell you I’m a very nice person. I do make it a point to be kind and respectful towards every single person who works there, regardless of position or power. Not because I’m so wonderful, but just because it’s easier than being nasty.

  46. Maeve*

    I’m a big fan of just quickly and matter-of-factly explaining why an issue matters to me personally, it often makes people shut up. Obviously doesn’t work for every issue, you’re being open about your views which not everyone wants, and you could definitely end up in a longer unwanted discussion but it’s a lot harder and more uncomfortable for people to argue with you when you make it personal.

    “Oh actually I can’t support politicians who don’t think I have a right to marry my partner, we’re hoping to get married next year and that’s really important to me.”

    “Oh when I got SNAP when I suddenly lost my job I was just really grateful for it, I might have ended up homeless otherwise.”

    “My partner is a international adoptee, can you believe that if her parents hadn’t done her citizenship paperwork right when she was four years old she could be deported? It’s so scary to think about! All of her friends and family are here and she doesn’t know a word of Korean!”

    1. triplehiccup*

      I have found this approach helpful. I had many conservative coworkers when the ACA was going through Congress. I found it very effective to say things like “Oddly I don’t think my sister forfeited her right to healthcare when she got melanoma as a teenager.”

      1. Archie Goodwin*

        I have, too. My mother is a Soviet refugee, which has influenced a lot of my political thinking. I find that when I state that point nakedly, people usually get where I’m coming from.

    2. anon for health stuff*

      Very much this. There’s a difference between being “the liberal” (or for that matter, “the conservative”) vs “someone who has legit skin in the game” / “it’s not a theoretical question for me.”

      Don’t want to out yourself or a specific family member to someone who might get antagonistic? Fine, make it more abstract–“one of my close relatives”–but keep it specific.

      This is not a work example, but perhaps still relevant.

      Last sunday, we stepped off to the side of a trail, and pulled our masks into place, as a family came briskly upon us from the opposite direction (maskless). We called out, “path’s free, all yours.”

      They sized us up, then dropped to a dawdle, stopped to take pictures (in front of absolutely nothing) stared at the sky, and when they passed some five minutes later, said, “sorry, we couldn’t hear you, it’s those dumb masks.” The parents and older kids were smirking and giggling, and it was all very snide.

      I said, “If you don’t have pulmonary fibrosis in the family, it may make sense to play the odds, but we don’t have that luxury, I’m afraid.” The smirks stopped, the mom looked downright embarrassed, and one of the kids said, “sorry.” It was clearly no longer a question of “those stupid virtue-signaling [political or philosophical category we oppose] people,” and instead, “people who are doing the right thing for family.”

      It also became an I-statement-style, “we must,” not a “you should.” It also acknowledged that their circumstances might well be different (which is something that’s been badly overlooked!).

      As “family” can mean anything from “me, myself,” to “the greater human family,” this will always be applicable.

  47. Friendly friend*

    I have been in your shoes, OP. At the time, my company was overtly aligned (C-suite level) with conservative politics and I was the lone progressive. To make matters more complicated, I actually have to work closely with some conservative governmental connections that consult with our company. I don’t have a great answer. I developed the strategy internally that this is work, and because I otherwise believe in what I do for work, I will just have to have to let this wash over me. While it was necessary to discuss policies that directly impact what we do, I otherwise staunchly refused to otherwise discuss politics at work. When politics come up, I would mentally check out. The company has since changed leadership and now adopts a neutral position, so I am lucky.

    If you have a Diversity and Inclusion committee at work, it might be worthwhile to point out to them that because politics are very polarizing right now with the perception (rightly or wrongly) that the differences cleave among minority/gender, that a good way to support diversity may be to look at a policy that encourages political participation in employee’s own time, but directs employees to keep political conversation and activity out of the workplace so that the culture feels more neutral and welcoming.

    1. Jennifer*

      Good point. My husband is sort of in this situation right now and with everyone ranting about conservatism in the office, he definitely doesn’t feel very welcome as a minority.

  48. irene adler*

    I feel for you, OP.
    Similar situation with me. EVERYONE in the office talks politics all the time. And yes, all are conservative-leaning, in line with the president of the company. Don’t want to rub the old guy the wrong way; he might opt to deny raises to those with opposing viewpoints.

    I am fortunate that I have my own office to retreat to. And should anyone who is in my office bring up politics, I am quick to remind them that my office is a politics-free zone. Respect it. They do.

    Course, now the president of the company is emailing me politicized news videos and articles that back up his beliefs.
    Delete button seems to be my best friend these days.

  49. Lora*

    I tend to fall back on the “this discussion is not work related, is it?”

    People tend to assume I agree with them because I grew up in a red area of a purple state and I am white. I left that area for many reasons, one of which was my local government, family and neighbors didn’t think I was a real person with human rights. (The others were unemployment rates, education and local government providing services for its citizens instead of chronic corruption and graft that made everything crap.) People determined to discuss politics after I tell them I prefer not to, are quite shocked when I don’t agree. But mostly I just say I don’t talk about politics at work, I’m too busy with Important Projects, if it is not work related I don’t have time for it and put my headphones back on.

    This became a problem recently when I was offered two transfers that could have been serious promotions – but both would require relocating to VERY conservative areas, in one case a country where I am technically illegal, and if I tried to have any kind of love life I would be publicly whipped, deported, or both. The other was just really the middle of nowhere with absolutely nothing surrounding them for 100 miles in any direction, also another country but only the major cities there are at all liberal. So I had to tell my bosses, no, I cannot relocate, not for any money, it is not an option at ALL. “But you could run the site engineering!” Don’t care. And then had to explain why I could not possibly, ever, move there. The company did try to implement PESTEL analysis for new site development and site masterplanning, but for the old ones there’s not much to do other than despair of ever having decent recruiting there and concentrate major decisions in centralized headquarters.

    Frankly I don’t care to hear about politics I agree with, either. I have a few friends who just dwell on it all day long, and seem to get themselves worked up into a hissyfit over the Facebook posts of random strangers with the whole Someone Is Wrong On The Internet thing and I just cannot. I have stuff to do and relaxing hobbies I enjoy and I am already very aware that the world is full of a-holes.

    1. Paperwhite*

      This is a really edifying comment, especially as you explain how conservative ideas make you actually unsafe in some areas because of who you are — for all that people like to set both sides as equivalent, there isn’t an equivalent for conservatives being unsafe in liberal areas.

      1. Observer*

        Unfortunately, that’s just not true.

        Right Governor Cuomo has claimed that the reason that New York is seeing an uptick in Covd cases it Orthodox Jews (a relatively conservative community). It’s factually untrue, but he and, even more so, DeBlasio have been blaming Orthodox Jews for New York’s covid rates for months. Facts don’t matter – people are afraid and the politicians needs someone to blame that isn’t them.

        1. Paperwhite*

          And saying “is it anti-conservatism or antisemitism” is pretty much a distinction without a difference. I see your point there. But I do think it’s different when people from minority groups are targeted vs when someone who would get called an “American” with no qualifiers is challenged.

      2. Lora*

        Well, turning it back to the subject of work: Management should realize that when they make these decisions, there are consequences. There’s this whole PESTEL analysis thing to do when you’re trying to decide where is the best place to put a location, and the upshot for my industry is, where you choose a location will determine how much automation of manufacturing you are *forced* to do, because you will not be able to recruit a lot of skilled people to live in East Cowlick, Nowhere. Most of the good quality training and experience happens at only a few locations on the coasts and a couple of places in Europe; it’s only been in other countries for relatively few years, so you can’t get someone with 15+ years of hands on experience in other locations. Therefore, if you do not wish to pay big city salaries and real estate prices, you have to automate the heck out of things and put your decision-making power in a big city HQ. You will not have other options.

        You start with the question of what kind of people you need to staff the business. Lots of education? No education? State schools or do you need the marketing value of Harvard PhDs? Certificates? Hands on experience or you can provide training yourself, and how much? Then what kind of infrastructure – near a highway? near freight rail or airport? How much power and water will the place draw, and can the local utility grid support it or do you need to provide your own backup or what? Can you use a nearby wastewater treatment plant or do you need to build one of those too? What kind of regulations affect your business in that particular area? Are you going to be picketed by religious or antivax nutjobs or attacked by PETA folks trying to liberate the lab mice or what? What kind of site security do you need to prevent this?

        Rural, conservative states tend to have crappy infrastructure if any. You have to build utility and backup utility capacity, as opposed to areas where the government does, in fact, provide these things for us. In conservative areas and countries, we often have to deal with corrupt local governments demanding outright bribes, and drag in lawyers to explain to them that bribery is in fact illegal. We usually need at least tech-savvy managers with strong education and considerable hands-on experience, and those are a lot tougher to find in conservative areas – and we can’t easily find people willing to relocate, because they are concerned about the local school quality, being ostracized by locals, lack of a life outside of work etc.

        And going back to OP’s point: it’s bad enough being the lone Politically Opposite Person in an office. It’s MUCH WORSE when that is your whole entire life. At least if it’s just work, and you can go hang out with your family and hobby group and yoga class friends and be yourself, it’s more tolerable. When you are the only _______ in a 100-mile radius and you are not welcome anywhere…that’s horrible. It’s why people leave such places in droves.

  50. Cobol*

    It depends on the company (OP further clarifies upthread), but not all, or even most, conservatives (or liberals) are dogmatic. I know OP didn’t want to talk politics, but in general, people are much more willing to listen to somebody they respect. This is a different time obviously, but in many (I think most) being known as somebody with opposite political leanings isn’t going to cause you any issues.

  51. ANonnyNonny*

    I once was chatting with a co-worker whose views turned out to be, from my POV, pretty extreme, and he was rattling away as though it were obvious I’d agree with him.

    So I said, pleasantly, “Dude, can we not get into that? Nobody ever changes anybody’s mind about anything.” He laughed and said, “That’s probably true,” and that was that.

    Whether that would work in these amped-up, hair-on-fire days, I don’t know, but he was a good guy and we were fine.

  52. Jennifer*

    I would ask what you consider to be political? Certain things like racism are viewed as political nowadays when they really aren’t. I would say excuse yourself but don’t just put your headphones in and turn a blind eye to actual discrimination if you are in a position to help.

  53. GoMonkey*

    If you’re comfortable with it, an ‘ugh, politics again??’ attitude can get you far without having to chat about the particulars. I also hate to say it, but if you’re a woman, you can play the ‘respectable/polite ladies don’t talk politics’ card in many conservative environments and get away with it.

  54. Eleanor*

    I could see response being situation-dependent. If it’s in a common area/break room, maybe something like “Hi guys, I swear I’m not trying to eavesdrop, but would you be willing to keep political talk within your offices or private Teams chats?” If you don’t mind outing yourself, I agree with previous commenters that gently hinting at your own position can go a long way toward people not having these conversations around you in the future – you could add something like “We don’t all feel the same way about these topics, and they’re all pretty hot-button right now, so it’s a little weird.” I personally like vague descriptors like ‘weird’ because they don’t give the recipient much to argue with, although that might be just me.

    If it’s in a meeting, agree with the suggestions to hard redirect to the actual meeting topic. If someone else is running the meeting, maybe filling a pause with “Oooookay, so, [topic].” while making eye contact with whoever that is?

    If people are bringing this into 1×1 conversations with you/bringing it into your office, I don’t think a firm but neutral “I don’t really want to talk about that” is out of line if you are otherwise polite. Your office seems like it may be more formal given the headphones restrictions, so maybe ignore this next part, but where I work we are casual enough with each other that I haven’t been fired yet for interjecting with things like “I think you know that as the resident office snowflake, I HEAVILY disagree with that.” Or raising my eyebrows and hittin em with my most skeptical “Hmmmmmmm, interesting!”

    Biases: I’m mid-20s, kind of an idiot, and work in an office with low professionalism/normalcy standards. Godspeed!!

  55. Always Learning*

    I would just try to ensure things stay neutral since politics are so divisive regardless of what others believe. I would just cultivate an environment around myself that’s “politics-free” and shut down political talk so people know it’s not welcome around me. I’m also sensitive when people get heated about politics and I change the subject or leave the conversation. I see it as any other topic that triggers me, and I set up boundaries to ensure my self care needs are met. Good luck.

  56. A Geunine Scientician*

    I’m on somewhat the other end, working in a very blue office (higher education) in a blue city within purple state. I myself am on the liberal side of things, but I absolutely do push back on certain comments. For me, the lines are:

    – Don’t assume that everyone who disagrees with you is stupid/evil/etc.
    – Criticize policies and actions more than people.
    – Don’t mistake silence for agreement.

    There are some policies I’m perfectly fine with just blanket condemnation of, most of which boil down to treating people as not worthy of equal legal treatment and protection, and I don’t care if someone who disagrees with me feels uncomfortable with me saying that. But I am not OK with blanket condemnations of all voters of a particular party. I haven’t gotten bad pushback when I say things like “I’m finding politics overwhelming right now; are there some times when we can keep it off the table?”

    And even though it risks accusations of tone policing, I have had success with “I find it more effective to communicate why I support a particular position, than why I disagree with a different one. I think the negativity makes a lot of people either shut down or dig in in a way they don’t if I explain why I think my choices are good ones.” For me at least, hearing why someone supports a position I completely disagree with lands a lot better than hearing them denigrate all people who hold the position I do.

  57. Huginzai*

    Political policy has a huge impact on the direction of our particular brand of Teapots, and elections are unavoidably contentious and much-discussed events. Ultimately our company created a policy that required a respectful workplace, and from the top down, the message was that you don’t have to agree with other co-workers, but managers and direct supervisors were expected to, and MUST step on conversations that cross the line of polite discussion and remarks that disparage others for their views.

    Ultimately, failing to set that tone and expectation, is a failure of leadership to recognize that their team consists of a multitude of people with a multitude of views and experiences, and to create an environment where teamwork can flourish.

  58. Uhdrea*

    If you don’t feel like you can push back or speak up, which is totally understandable, maybe consider spending time volunteering for a candidate or cause that you care about. It obviously won’t change the work situation, but it would allow you to spend time in a group more generally on the same wavelength as you and maybe create some mental breathing room.

  59. a*

    My personal strategy is to make my opinions…inferrable…from low stakes conversations where I won’t get upset. Like if I overhear something where I can insert an easily verifiable study that contradicts whatever nonsense is being spouted, I will put on my know-it-all face and stick my oar in…in an informational kind of way. Doing this a few times has made it so that the political discussions have become hushed when people think I might be listening. But when they get to talkin’…I mostly put on my headphones and check out for a while.

  60. LaDiDa*

    I am a consultant and most of my clients are in Europe and Canada. They always want to ask me questions and I have been very open and told them “it is frustrating and scary but I don’t know have answer to your questions of why it has all happened. Because I just don’t know.”
    The few times I have been engaged by people in the US and give them a sad, “you poor thing” smile and say “I think it’s best not to discuss this. “

  61. Wednesday*

    My spouse was in the same boat. In their many years with the company, they tried ignoring, arguing, acting incredulous, calmly refuting, twisting their logic, rolling their eyes, walking away, modeling different behavior attitudes, and anything else you can think of. They eventually quit and endured almost 2 years of PTSD-type dreams and triggers and eventually needed therapy techniques to deal with it all.

  62. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    Counterintuitive as it may seem, outing myself as a (in the words of my boss in a political rant with another employee) “liberal idiot” pretty much ceased all political talk in my hearing. During a conversation in which New Boss was talking about a subject and expecting me to nod and agree, I simply responded to one comment with “Actually I vehemently disagree with you on that and several of the items you’ve just said. I think we’re on pretty opposite ends of the spectrum here. It’s probably best we move on so that we can cover llama grooming before your 10 o’clock meeting.”

    Context: OldJob was a global, progressive-leaning hospitality industry with many young employees. NewJob (which I started literally the day before the county-wide lockdown) is a small, sports-adjacent with primarily older males. The person I (30s female) replaced was a woman in her 60s who had been in the job for over a decade who mothered/spoiled the entire office.

    They’re still getting used to me, but they do appreciate the new digital tracking system!

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m lucky in that as a middle aged, middle class, cis-het white dude, I have zero qualms about speaking up and drawing a line. As callous as it sounds, saying something is hurtful can be blood in the water for some folks and they will needle you with it. Set a boundary and enforce it.
      Day two of $currentjob, the guy sitting next to me stood up and announced that in his mind, “liberalism was a mental disorder.” I immediately replied with, “And you’re working with a very deranged person.”

      1. Paperwhite*

        This made me cheer! Seriously, thank you for speaking up when sometimes others of us can’t.

  63. Firecat*

    I think you need to determine your goal and then take actions accordingly.

    Do you want people to know you disagree if only to challenge the notion that “everyone feels this way”? Do you just want to avoid it all? Based on your letter I am assuming you don’t want to change minds.

    Tips for avoiding it all:
    Groups in a public place:
    Ugh politics again? Im so tired of it all. How was [subject change]?

    Can we please talk about anything else? I’m so over news and politics right now. Did you see the game/new restaurant/positive news?

    When someone trust to rope you in:
    Im not I interested in talking about the news thanks.

    I avoid politics at work as a rule. How is your spouse/project/hobby doing?

    Headphones or break off campus as much as possible.

    To make it clear you disagree but not get in a disagreement:
    Hmm that’s not my take on it. Now about the TPS reports…

    It seemss like you and I aren’t going to agree on this topic. Let’s move on. What did you think of yesterday’s potluck?

    And in all the above if people keep it up it’s fine to leave. The trick is to be friendly about.

    Well like I said I’m not interested in this topic. See you later.

    Ok. It seems y’all want to continue this discussion so I’ll take my leave.

    Good luck!

  64. I'm just here for the cats*

    I don’t have any other advice besides what’s already been said. But I feel for the LW. At a previous job there was one guy who ALWAYS talked politics. He was really nice but his whole entertainment was surrondeded by talk news, News Radio like NPR, and sports. When i mentioned something about a tv show he told me that he doesnt watch anything but news shows. I thinlk he also only reads books that are political in nature. I actually feel a bit bad for him, that he feels like he can’t escape political talk. But I am SOOO glad I dont work with him.

  65. drpuma*

    I wonder if it would help to have a couple of designated “safety valve” friends or family members (with their agreement) so you don’t feel quite so alone. When your coworkers start talking about politics, could you text or literally phone a friend both for moral support and to serve as a distraction?

  66. Not So NewReader*

    I have found it helpful to practice shutting down political conversations at home also. I think it got me comfortable with hearing my own voice insisting on a topic change. Because I am saying it to people I care about, I had to find ways of saying it in a soft yet effective manner.
    I do go different routes with different personalities. I have one friend who does not do well with “subtle” but at the same time “direct” does not offend him. So he gets, “I don’t want to talk about politics. There’s plenty of other stuff to chat on. So how is Sis doing?” This friend required repeat reminders before it sunk in.
    I have another friend who picks up on the smallest subtleties. To her I say, “Let’s talk about something cheerful.” And she recognized instantly that we are just not going to talk politics. Ever. Problem solved.
    With both friends I can find dozens of things to talk about that are more immediate and shared topics. We have productive conversations where we help each other with a broken gizmo or locate needed widgets on sale some where. The conversations are more about day-to-day life stuff.
    But the practice at home has helped me at work a lot.

  67. KR*

    I make it clear that I hate the guy in office but I try to keep it non emotional and only to one sentence so it doesn’t open up a conversation. Whereas in my personal life I may expand more on my beliefs, at work I usually say something like, “No, I hate that idiot.” and change the subject in the same tone of voice I would say “No, I don’t like strawberry ice cream.” I try to make it matter of fact, like of course I don’t like him because of obvious factors. I don’t say why, I don’t try to convince people. Most of all I try not to engage when one of my coworkers reveals themselves to be a fan of orange man so I can signal I’m not up to talking about him at all.

  68. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Politics and governance are much more complicated than a simple left/right split. I assume that these people in your office aren’t actually having deep dives about, eg, North Korea, around the lunch table, but rather just engaging in the “team sports rivalry” version of politics that so many people stoop to.

    I know it’s difficult, but if OP imagine themself as the only Red Sox fan in an office full of people who root for the Yankees, or Michigan graduate working in Columbus, OH, then they might be able to reframe this in their own head. They’re rooting for a color of laundry, not a nuanced political philosophy.

  69. BasicWitch*

    Have friends you can talk to or text when you need some sanity. Have books or websites you can read during your break that are engaging and have nothing to do with politics. Change the subject, and if they keep pushing just say that politics stress you out and you’d rather not get mired in it at work, and be firm about it if you have to.

    I think the key thing to remember is, they are just people doing their best. Their views may be backwards but a lot of that is programming, not actual malice. Try to be zen about it at work and focus on common ground. As much as it might seem otherwise, their political views really aren’t about you. Reminding yourself of that can help you avoid getting emotionally invested in what other people think.

  70. AnotherLibrarian*

    I have been there OP. I feel for you. First off, you should know there might be more quiet progressives than you think, so try not to feel too alone. Over time, I learned I had more allies than I had first thought. Secondly, I think the advice with just speaking up when you can with something like, “I’m super burned out on all this political stuff. Have you guys seen the latest X?” or “Can I ask a favor? I’m just really tired of politics right now. Can we dial down the political talk a bit?”

    Even if people don’t agree with your politics, most people do understand feeling burnt out on this right now or not liking to discuss it at work. I found those scripts pretty effective for the 7 years I worked in a very conservative office.

  71. Conservative in a Blue world*

    I understand. I’m a conservative in a very liberal work environment in an extremely liberal city and everyone assumes everyone agrees with them. General talk and opinions don’t bother me. I just smile. But some of the vileness is way out of line and when that happens, I point out to the person that their conversation and language is outside of our company’s acceptable discourse policies.

  72. Sylvan*

    “I don’t like politics” repeat ad infinitum. (Do you not like politics because of the unhappy current state of things? Because you don’t like one party, two of them, or all of them? Because of politicians? Because you’re just not interested in that entire concept? Who knows!)

    A calm and disinterested “I disagree” or “That’s not how I’ve seen things” can make your point without inviting an argument… Normally. Things are so contentious right now, though, that someone could still want to debate you.

    Sorry you’re in this position, OP, I was only somewhat close in 2016 and it wasn’t fun.

  73. LizardOfOdds*

    I feel this one because I’ve been in the exact same position. I ended up taking a very passive approach because I knew pushback would not work well with the culture of the company. The last time I heard a completely horrifying political comment, I said something like, “wow, it’s weird that you would say something like that at work” and just kept working. It was enough to stir the pot with the crowd of people who often talked politics in our cube farm, and the discussions became more loud/heated when they realized a real live “snowflake” was among them. I ended up going to HR and filing a formal report because it was starting to become a toxic and hostile environment, and HR did get involved and send out a reminder of the company’s policies about creating a workplace of respect. There was some grumbling after that, especially when someone hung up a political campaign sign on a common bulletin board and HR came to take it down. But eventually they realized they were putting their jobs at risk by continuing that behavior and it stopped.

    As a red-stater, I am usually the lone dissenting voice in the workplace, and I’m really grateful that we had an HR team that was invested and willing to make the work environment feel safe. That was not always the case at every company, though. At a different company, I reported literal sexual harassment and discrimination in addition to horrifying political commentary, and the HR rep’s best advice was that I should just try to fit in better. Every company (and industry) is different with this stuff.

  74. Raine*

    My roommate’s been dealing with this at work all year. The turning point was when the owner put political signs out in front of the building – so now she’s job hunting and can’t wait to leave this place behind.

  75. triplehiccup*

    I try to wind down the conversation with a splash of how I really think. Something like “actually I’m underwhelmed by both parties and don’t see that changing” or, less politely, “none of these people give a shit about normal people so I try to funnel my political energy into community service.” I don’t know if it’s the wisest approach but expressing myself even a little helps me preserve my self-respect.

  76. Waiting to be Future Endeavored*

    I think try a “Can you talk about something else?” when you’re around other people talking politics. You might not even have to bring up the political discomfort part. I’ve said something like this when office conversations around me took a turn that made me uncomfortable.

  77. Emma L*

    I have found it works just fine to say something like, “I was brought up the old fashion way, never discuss politics or religion on the job!” in a not-too-serious way. It’s pretty well know conventional wisdom at tis point, and most people will play along.
    For those who don’t a followup of “That’s not something I think it’s appropriate to discuss at work”, said firmly, usually does head off all but the most obnoxious. It sounds a bit prim, but on average I find most coworkers will take the hint if you give the impression it’s rude in general.

  78. Mr. Cajun2core*

    As one of the very few (maybe there are 2 or 3 of us) conservative people in a department which is highly progressive by its very nature (think Woman and Gender Studies department at a University), I can fully sympathize.

    I just keep my mouth shut and walk away when possible. It isn’t always easy. I do have to admit, that I have learned a few things and some of my views have moved a bit to the more progressive side.

    If confronted directly, I think Emma L put it best. See above.

  79. The Rural Juror*

    I work for a very tiny company (Owner + 2 employees), so sometimes conversations about politics are a little difficult to avoid. It’s not like you can escape where there’s only 2 other people!

    Our company used to be bigger before the owner’s father and several of his employees all retired. He and the controller/accountant had been working together for 22 years (!) and regularly had conversations across the hallway about their conservative views. I would sneak up from my chair and quiiiiiietly close my door. I didn’t disagree with everything they said, but I definitely skew way more liberal than them. So I avoided engaging in those conversations. I was kind of glad to see them retire and the office become calmer haha.

    He retired and left the company to his son, who’s a little tougher to read. I think he’s more conservative, but pretty moderate overall. He’ll have conservative news channels on the TV in his office, but more than once this year he’s made a comment about how they’re such a spectacle and some of the “news” they put out is laughable. I guess it’s just habit to watch that one news channel (???).

    So I avoid engaging in conversations about things with him, too. He’s not pushy about conversations like his father was, though. I think he knows better than to bring up too much. We’re in a liberal city in a conservative state, so there’s a huge mix of opinions and no real way to gauge people unless they specifically talk about their views. The last thing my boss would want to do is make any of our clients feel alienated by certain political views.

    So, to the LW, I feel your pain. I’ve been in your shoes, but luckily the situation here has improved. Unfortunately, when it was happening, I never felt I had the footing to ask them to tone it down. I was the “newbie” in the situation and they obviously wanted to commiserate about things… Hopefully, if things feel too heated, you could talk to you your manager about the distraction (without alluding to any kind of affiliation one direction or another).

  80. Ann O'Nemity*

    There’s a lot of good advice in the comments already about switching topics.

    I’m curious if politics are relevant to the OP’s work in any way? Like if election outcomes will affect the industry, regulations, funding, customers, etc. If so, it may be harder to switch topics or avoid talk of politics altogether, especially if part of your actual work involves planning for various election outcomes! If that’s the case, I’d come up with some canned responses like, “Hey, let’s keep it civil, no name calling,” or “Whoa, let’s try to stay focused and keep the emotion out of it.”

  81. Phony Genius*

    You could try to preemptively start a conversation about some non-political matter, and try to keep it on track. Of course, that doesn’t help if the others are already talking about politics.

  82. Lone Conservative*

    I’m one of the only conservatives in a progressive office where politics is part of our work- not everyone knows my views but most of my peers do, because it comes up. Mostly if there are hot button issues I just say I don’t discuss them at work. My coworkers are excellent and we don’t have political conflicts. I’m finding it disturbing how when in response to this question conservatives share their experiences and its immediately dismissed as not the same. Isn’t that the point of the question?

    1. Paperwhite*

      Well, often, it’s not the same. Some examples I have heard are that transgender people don’t exist and those who think they are should be put into mental hospitals, that gay and lesbian teachers will inevitably sexually abuse students, that all Black people should be rounded up and jailed preemptively, and that feminists should be correctively raped. All of these were presented as political views by the speakers, aimed at groups of people considered liberal, and I can’t come up with equivalent statements I have heard concerning conservatives.

      1. kaittydidd*

        Yes, exactly. Issues of whether certain kinds of people are people deserving of rights are the ones I get worked up about.

        I’ll happily discuss policies about other things with people I disagree with. Should the cost of tabs increase or the gas tax? Etc. I had a long chat with a friend on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me about economics. I learned a lot, and never felt that my existence or rights were in question.

        1. Archie Goodwin*

          The vile things I’ve heard directed at conservatives are more of the personal variety: “If you’re a conservative, you’re a Nazi/fascist/racist”, that sort of thing. Blanket condemnation, full stop. Once (it was a guy I didn’t even know – we ended up at the same table in a restaurant, for some reason) it was mocking my accent. As in, clearly I can’t be correct about politics because I talk like a ponce, so nothing I say is worth listening to and all I deserve is mocking.

          I’m not saying it’s equivalent, necessarily, but that’s the sort of stuff I feel compelled to shut down.

          I’m also not a typical conservative in the sense the term has come to mean – I’m extremely socially liberal (to the point of being more so than some Democrats I know), but otherwise fairly moderate-right leaning. So when I raise my eyebrows, or otherwise make my presence known, it’s mostly meant as a check – “you’re saying all of us are like that, I’m reminding you that that isn’t so”.

      2. Firecat*

        Often? Really?

        Can you honestly say that the majority or even 4 out of 10 workplace conversations amongst conservatives has included these extreme and violent examples you gave?

        In hundreds of sometimes heated disagreements with my conservative coworkers nothing like this has ever been said.

  83. IT Heathen*

    I am in a similar boat and I try hard to have a pre-prepared bland comment on the topic. For instance, after the debate between Trump and Biden, my comment was “I bet the moderator has a hangover today.”

  84. anon73*

    I just don’t engage. I haven’t been in a large office where that would be an issue on over 5 years, but most of my friends are hard core one way and I am the opposite. I ignore it and walk away if I can. If I were in the office, and asked directly, I’d just stick to “I don’t discuss politics.” Give no reason why, and repeat ad nauseum. If people are getting loud around you, pop in some ear buds and concentrate on your work. I’ve never understood why people think it’s okay to just spew their controversial opinions in mixed company. I have a potty mouth, but I don’t drop F bombs around every person I come into contact with because I don’t want to make people I don’t know uncomfortable.

  85. Cass*

    Because conservative views are increasingly synonymous with bigotry and a general feeling of wanting more privacy and less government oversight with the exception of being able to police what goes on in people’s bedrooms. So it isn’t the same thing at all.

  86. Sleepy*

    Confide in someone sympathetic? They could help you shut down conversations. In my super-left workplace, one coworker confided in me that she’s a moderate Republican and that’s helped me be mindful about political talk at work–and realize that we still agree on a lot of issues.

  87. Lucy P*

    I work in a office that has often had a lot of foreigners who just don’t get into U.S. politics (although there were a few times when some of my Latin American coworkers were debating the Sandanistas or something like that). The day after a previous election (not naming which one) I made the mistake of being exceptionally giddy about the outcome. Then I caught one of my coworkers glaring at me. They were sulky the rest of the day. After that, I really try to leave my opinions or emotions about politics out of the office place. Sometime semi-recently someone tried to start a gun debate. I excused myself and said that I had work to do to reach a deadline.

    1. Firecat*

      Being exceptionally giddy after an election is not a great look at work.

      Feelings are raw and fresh. It’s not a great time to poke the bear.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        If I were onsite, I’d have to fake it. Our ownership was neither neutral nor tactful in December of 2016. Either that, or I’d have to fake that the world has come to its end.

  88. Are you kidding me?*

    I literally just had several members of my upper management team try to put a political hat on my head “as a joke” and then try to get into a political discussion afterwards.

    I’m not ashamed of my political beliefs but the office is not the place for them and on the off hand anyone didn’t know my beliefs they just outed me to an entire office. I am fuming.

      1. pancakes*

        The idea that people trying to force a hat on their coworker’s head didn’t notice they were doing so, or did so out of ambivalence, is very strained and strange.

  89. TotallyNormal*

    Can you vote early in your state? I voted in person last week and now, my go-to response is, “I’ve already voted, so I am tuning out all the election drama for the next month!” and then encourage people to go vote themselves so they can also lay off the chatter.

  90. NW Mossy*

    One thing I do when someone bangs on about a subject I’m just exhausted with is to return the fatigue to sender by making some kind of anodyne statement and then pivoting the subject to my impassioned views about topics very likely to bore the other party.

    Examples include:

    * A lengthy discourse on why orange-flavored candies (Skittles, Starbursts, etc.) are the worst.
    * A rigorous analysis of methods for knitting in the round, including a rigorous defense of tiny circulars.
    * Very Serious Opinions about amateur sleuths in mystery, with consideration given to series vs. standalone.

    It’s best used judiciously at work because of the reputational implications of being highly invested in the comparative merits of different cooking oils or whatever, but it works pretty well to make you an unattractive sparring partner for political discourse.

  91. stiveee*

    Hey OP, you may not be the only one! If it is safe to do so, consider signalling that you are an ally. You have no idea who may need to see that little pride flag in your cube, BLM pin, pronouns in your signature, or whatever it may be. It doesn’t have to be a big production and you can still decline to talk about politics. But again, safety first- only do what you can given the environment you are in.

  92. Suz*

    I don’t have any advice but this reminded me of my 1st job after college. I worked in a very conservative field and I was the only woman in our division. My friends used tease me that I wasn’t the token woman, I was the token liberal.

  93. Anonymooose*

    You need to respect their rights as much as they must respect yours; even if you believe that what they are spewing is complete horse pucky. They probably feel the same about your thoughts. You have no right to make them stop thinking what they think, stop talking about what they believe, or force them to respect your personal opinions. They are obligated to the same to you. Unless their actions clearly violate your own rights or business operations.

    Speaking as someone who was in the reverse side (conservatives in a media organization); I sat through numerous occasions where people spoke about things that were personally reprehensible to me but I needed to respect their personal rights and, unless their actions, impacted my own rights or business activity, there’s nothing to address. And yes, when you choose to work in a place or stay in a place that doesn’t harmonize with your personal beliefs, you are a part of your own discomfort. Is it your right to work where you want to work? Yes (if you are in a right to work state, if not…maybe). Did you actively engage in something that makes you uncomfortable, even deeply offended. Also, yes. Is it their responsibility to shift to make you comfortable? Maybe but mostly no. They should to be kind, courteous, and decent. But not to the extent that their rights are affected and they have the right, within the confines of law or company policy, to speak as they like and make up their own mind on matters. Their rights do not matter less than yours nor yours theirs, no one has the moral high ground.

    There are many who believe that by staying silent in the face of opposing views, a person could be complicit in the perpetuation of evil/ignorance, not standing up for their personal rights, or failing in their obligation to stand up for the right thing. The reality is your rights end where theirs begins and vice versa. You can stay and can and should stand up for your own rights and company policy. You can leave and go somewhere where your own views will be embraced, valued, and supported. It seems like that’s their situation. You can stay and tolerate the discomfort because…maybe the job is worth it to your career or bank balance.

    I stayed for 6 years and sucked it up, even when I was harassed for my beliefs and when bias was blatant and beyond the pale. I chose to stay because it was good for my career and I left when it suited me. I took and offer with that company’s client, got a 40% pay bump, seniority and fired them for poor performance; not because of the ideology difference. Choose what suits you and if it comes at a personal and/or emotional cost, make sure you come out ahead.

  94. Bex*

    I work in a primarily blue collar environment in a very red county but blue state. Some folks here discuss their politics pretty openly because they feel like work is the only place they have where there are people who think like them.

    After the events in Kenosha, I was doing an upgrade to a system in a control room, and the operators were talking about (and praising) what happened. It rankled for a lot of reasons, but I’m junior enough that I can’t afford to alienate people. Even by saying something like “I think it’s awful what happened.”

    I’ve taken to just responding to the start of political convos with “guys, I’m so tired of politics right now. I’ve got to wade through it every day when I catch up on news. Tell me about your weekend – how’s the kid/spouse/animals?” If they try to engage me, I just say “I don’t talk politics at work. It’s not what I’m being paid for.”

    Which sucks. Because there are some things I hear that really bother me. But I have to balance my need to stay employed and on peoples good side against speaking out, and I just can’t risk it.

    It really sucks.

  95. PDB*

    Walk away. And if it happens during a work related discussion redirect back to work.
    The fact is nobody’s mind is going to be changed at this point.

  96. Eagle*

    Separate yourself from the politicians whose ideas you agree with. Criticizing policy is not a criticism of you personally. I understand that it is hard when you are sensitive, but this is a great place to start. Another thing to try is listening to what your coworkers have to say. Don’t speak, just listen. If you truly find that you disagree with a point, go home and formulate some thoughts, examples and questions that you can ask a coworker that you are comfortable with. Understanding both sides of an issue is to your benefit.

    1. Always Late to the Party*

      OP mentions struggling to respond to “disparaging comments about [their] beliefs.” While it is nice to envision their coworkers discussing policy in an even, measured way where they may have something to gain by listening, I don’t think that is realistically how folks are discussing politics these days. There is so much vitriol being hurled about “the other guys”, *especially* in spaces where everyone is of similar political persuasion. It’s not really about issues anymore – it’s about the harm the other side is perceived to have caused (this is as true in left-leaning spaces as it is in right-leaning). OP should not subject themselves to this in the extremely stressful climate for the sake of “maybe I’ll learn something” especially in a professional environment where they are being paid to do a job and not listen to their beliefs/opinions be degraded without the opportunity for input.

    2. Kara S*

      This is a little unnecessarily condescending to the LW. There are situations where political policies are a direct comment on individual identities (ex anti-LGBTQ marriage politicians) where there is no way to hear “the other side” without hearing an attack on a basic element of who you are. I don’t want to read details into the letter that aren’t there but I don’t think saying they are too sensitive is very constructive for the question they asked.

      1. Kara S*

        Ahh, sorry! I just re-read the letter and saw that LW called themselves sensitive. My apologies, please disregard my reply.

  97. Jessica Fletcher*

    There could definitely be others who don’t agree with them, but they’re also not keen on discussing politics at work or afraid to speak up. It might help to notice whether others also tune out. You don’t have to talk to them about it, but that recogition might help you feel less alone.

    I’m not big on discussing politics at work, even though some others on my team share at least some of my views. What does help is to find other places with like minds. I usually volunteer with local campaigns, but with Covid, there’s actually a lot of groups doing online voter outreach! Since you mentioned you’re progressive, you could go to JoeBiden.com and click to either make calls or text voters for Joe! You’re not alone. You get trained online, and there’s chat groups for volunteers.

    If there are any local campaigns in your area, they might need volunteers as well, even to put up signs. I live in a conservative area as well, but there still can be options to discuss your views or just socialize with like minded people, even outside an election year. Check out MeetUp, your county Democratic or Independent party, or search Facebook and Google for issue-oriented groups near you. And ask like minded friends!

    Basically, I find it’s easier to ignore people’s hostility when I know I’m helping in other ways, with others who share my goals.

  98. LogicalOne*

    I don’t speak Politics at work. It doesn’t matter to me if I agree or disagree with what people are saying at my workplace.

  99. Me*

    Politics are best left out of the workplace. When everyone else around you is talking about them and it’s not your cup of tea, then it’s a good time to walk away and get a cup of tea. If they try to engage, decline. Constantly.

    I wfh, but I’m taking the 4th of November off so I can recover from the 3rd. My beverage of choice is already chilling, and will be consumed no matter the results.

    When I actually worked in the office, I knew that most of my coworkers were not conservative. If we started any discussions, I was careful to make sure that the few conservatives were not in earshot, because I didn’t want them to feel uncomfy. It’s still a bad policy to discuss politics at work, but I live in a progressive area in a progressive state so the topic would frequently come up. Our office is segmented enough that we have plenty of space between our group and one of the closest folks on the other end of the spectrum. We also had good sight lines. But, again, it’s totally unwise to talk politics.

    We violated that constantly. I got nothing, other than don’t get drawn in.

    Every once in awhile, one of my fellow progressive coworkers would needle a manager – yep, a manager- that was very pro-gun. And without fail, the manager (!) would engage in an argument. I generally walked away until the conversation was over.

  100. Fezziwig*

    As someone who has lived in Liberal and conservative environments, hearing political discussions at work (no matter how close you are to your colleagues) is difficult!

    I would recommend that you keep with your distancing/headphones routine, since sometimes that’s all you can do. I always like to keep a few hard facts in my arsenal, should I find myself in a situation I’m unable to ignore. I find that a lot of political opinions (especially MAGA ones) are emotional, not literal. Using some of the collaborative speaking strategies AAM typically recommends, like asking a question or seeking feedback, braced with an irrefutable fact can be a simple, non-emotional way to engage.

    Know the difference between a mind that can be changed (I’m not sure Candidate X attended college) vs a mind that is emotionally set in their ways (Candidate X created a human trafficking ring.)
    The first one can be hit with a non-emotional fact: Candidate X graduated from University in 100 BC, they’re recognized on their alumni site. The second one is so false and so emotional, it’s a good time to just strap on those headphones.

    In my last job, a lot of my colleagues were so progressive that I often found myself more in the middle (a place I’d never thought I’d be! lol) A controversial crime bill came up…A LOT…and my quick fact was the protections for women and children that were included in said bill. I didn’t use the fact as a defensive shield, but as a way of drawing their attention to the duality of so many political issues. We rarely agreed, but it allowed us to enter into measured conversations. Without that fact I would’ve turned to my emotions, which likely would have led us into an argument. Simple facts can sometimes draw people up short, since it puts the kabash on any rambling falsehoods. It can also draw attention to someone’s lack of information, which runs the risk of having them lash out at you. But that’s not your problem!

    Store a couple relevant facts that might help you steer or shut down conversations, and remember that your best bet is to avoid or disengage whenever possible. And VOTE! That’s the loudest comeback you have in any political conversation of course.

  101. Fafa Flunkie*

    If all else fails, maybe you can utter the tried and true quotation I heard a long time ago:
    “Having a political viewpoint (or religious belief) is a lot like having a penis. Many of us have one. Many of those who do are proud of theirs. But no one wants to see it or have it shoved down their throats!”

    1. Littorally*

      Eh, I find that quotation gets weaponized around visible displays of faith, particularly religious dress for those who wear it. There is nothing wrong with seeing evidence of someone’s religion. It’s not obscene.

  102. Tidewater 4-1009*

    LW, you’re in a position to gather inside info about the other side. If you’re inclined to do anything with this info, it could be a positive.
    Are you involved in progressive politics at all? If so, bring the inside info and use it, and you’ll feel much better!

  103. PennyLane*

    I would say something like “I think it’s best to keep religion and politics out of work conversations” or “I don’t think that’s a topic for work” or “ugh, I hear enough about politics, I don’t want to hear that at work too; would you mind taking this conversation somewhere else?”. It can be hard when you’re passionate about it, but part of our responsibility in being civil. Also, you might be surprised. I always thought everyone in my company was conservative and super Republican even after working with them a few years, but I gladly discovered after the last election how untrue that was. Then again, it’s been 4 years, and if there have been no pointed comments about a particular president, then you might truly work in a far-right environment. Any chance you could ask to work from home temporarily?

  104. Elm*

    I think OP is doing basically everything they can short of either screaming “for the love of god, shut up!” or going to management–who probably agrees with everyone, since they’re letting this slide.

    But, if they try to involve you directly, I’d just sweetly say, “I don’t think political talk is appropriate at work, do you?” The “do you?” is to make them reflect on their behavior, but it’s optional to say. If there’s a company policy, bring it up when responding, too. Or, “I find the news exhausting right now. If you don’t mind, I’d really like to get back to emailing my client so I can finish this sale,” kinda sideways pointing out that YOU are working but THEY are not.

    I’ve also found that just staring them in the eyes and not responding, or responding with “I’m not interested in discussing this” with the deadpan stare and no further comment until they look away, also work well.

  105. Argh!*

    I try to keep my head down when these things happen. If anything, I’ll say, “Well their mothers love them, at least” when I hear people being disparaged. I hope it humanizes the issue for them. Everybody has a mother.

    1. pancakes*

      That sounds closer to “I agree the person you’re disparaging seems unlovable” than it does to “knock it off, please.”

  106. Shelly*

    Any chance you live in OKC or is that just me projecting?

    I would just do my best to refuse to engage in political discussion, and just vent frustrations to more similarly-minded friends.

  107. Generic Name*

    Until recently, I, a Democrat, lived in the reddest of red states for my whole life. I sort of felt like I was “in the closet” so to speak in terms of being a liberal surrounded by conservatives. To survive at work, and even with personal friendships, I just never discussed politics. If other people brought it up, I didn’t contribute or said only neutral things. I won’t lie, it was hard. I live in a more purple/blue state and I can finally admit my political leanings.

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