Voters’ voices: Dinner-table debates that don’t tear a family apart

Anna Weggel
Public Insight Network

Liza Long on a hike in Utah with her son Kirk and her boyfriend, Ed. (Photo submitted by Liza Long)

Liza Long on a hike in Utah with her son Kirk and her boyfriend, Ed. (Photo shared by Liza Long)

Editor’s note: This story one in a series of profiles of Public Insight Network sources who are finding ways to navigate political divisions ahead of Election Day.

Liza Long identifies herself as an academic, a former Mormon (she’s converted to Catholicism) and a Libertarian Romney supporter. She lives in Boise, Idaho.

Liza’s boyfriend, Ed, and her son Kirk, however, are strong supporters of President Obama — and none of the three is shy about sharing political opinions.

Remarkably, the divided loyalties don’t divide this family. In fact, Liza says the three of them usually enjoy debating politics over the dinner table, while out hiking, or even in the wake of a prank — which is exactly what happened when Ed and Kirk put Obama stickers on Liza’s car.

“Differing points of view have never bothered me — I enjoy friendly debates about ideas and, fortunately, so do my guys,” she said.

“I don’t understand why reasonable people can’t disagree about ideas but still sit down to a nice dinner at the end of the day — or even just laugh at each other.”

Like her students at a local career college, Long is active on social media. In fact, she says Facebook and Twitter are her primary sources of news. But she, like many people we’ve heard from, didn’t realize until this election cycle just how polarized her friends and students really are.

“I am truly amazed at the level of vitriol and the personal attacks on both sides of the equation,” she said. “When did politics become so divisive?”


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Anna Weggel Analyst
Public Insight Network

Anna Weggel is a Public Insight Analyst, which means she spends her time crafting questions about upcoming story topics to send to sources in the Public Insight Network and then produces web, audio and video content featuring those sources.

Before finding her home at APM in 2008, Anna received her B.A. in journalism, was the editor in chief of The Minnesota Daily, and internship hopped through Mother Jones, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, and the Downtown Journal. Anna's non-work life is held hostage by the stage -- where she performs improv comedy and shows with her lady bluegrass band.