After tumultuous election, LWV talks about ways to ease tensions

By Cathy Janek For Chronicle Media
Attendees at League of Women Voters forum discuss a post-election survey with attendees at a Nov. 16 gathering at the Naperville Municipal Center. (Photo by Cathy Janek / for Chronicle Media)

Attendees at League of Women Voters forum discuss a post-election survey with attendees at a Nov. 16 gathering at the Naperville Municipal Center. (Photo by Cathy Janek / for Chronicle Media)

Many of the family members expected at Naperville resident Maureen Nolan’s daughter’s house for Thanksgiving share “like-minded” political views.

Still Nolan told a group of about 25 attendees at a post-election forum sponsored by Naperville’s League of Women Voters that her daughter felt compelled to send out a polite email requesting guests refrain from mentioning the recent presidential election to help “aid the proper digestion” of their Thanksgiving meal.

Undoubtedly Nolan’s family members are suffering from election fatigue—sentiments that nearly 75 percent of respondents to a post-election online survey put out by the Naperville League of Women Voters also shared.

Nolan’s family and many others across the country look to find ways to move on and reach common ground with friends, family, co-workers, and even Facebook friends following an especially emotionally-charged and lengthy election period.

The forum — Finding Common Ground After the Election — drew better than expected audience of both long-time League as well first-timers including a couple of men to discuss ways to come together in a meeting last Wednesday.

The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 six months before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified and men have been welcome as members to the League of Women Voters since 1974, Naperville League Chapter President Leslie Hayward shared as a side note.

Since their founding the group has been instrumental in registering new voters.

For this election, the Naperville League was instrumental in registering 400 new volunteers.

Long-time League member and its voter services chair said in her decades long involvement with registering new voters and serving as an election judge has given her great confidence in our system of government.

However, following the most recent tumultuous election season the majority of the respondents to the League’s post-election survey — nearly 58 percent — stated they now are more careful about expressing their political feelings in public.

Many in the audience said that they are more careful about what they post and read on social media.  Some decided to “unfollow” verbose friends and relatives with opposing views that took a nasty tone, or to follow up with a private message rather than posting publicly.

Naperville resident Shirley DeCorte said she is compelled to step in and speak out on political matters when tensions increase to a level where someone is being bullied or “humanity” is at stake.

One attendee stated her mom asked her to remove her bumper sticker — not because her mom disagreed with her daughter’s choice, but because she was worried about her daughter’s safety.

Another attendee said her political sign only last “a day and a half” before going missing, while Naperville resident Megan McCatty said her sign was kicked by a young boy out trick or treating on Halloween.

With the upcoming holiday season nearly here, families are gathering more often and for longer periods and searching for ways they can get along, Becky Simon, a director of the Naperville League of Women Voters and one of the meetings facilitators said.

It’s something that Simon grapples with in her own family.

With many of the attendees stating that family members held very distinct, opposing thoughts on the recent election, the group collaborated on suggestions to be used to defuse tension and arguments:

*  Listen to the other person. Hear what they say and use reflective listening skills if necessary. Ask them questions.
*  Before turkey day dinner, have everyone agree to make the Thanksgiving table a politics free zone. At work you can agree to have a water cooler no-politics zone.
*  Change the topic.
*  If the discussion gets heated, politely excuse yourself and head to the kitchen to wash some dishes.
*  Don’t insult anyone or raise your voice.

Simon said is it important to try to understand where people are coming from and why they feel the way they do.

“We need to listen to one another,” she added.

The next meeting of the League of Women Voters Naperville will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 6 and will address how to have an active role in protecting voter rights.





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