OHIO — Grandparents and children often have a special bond, and one grandfather said it should be shown through open communication.

What You Need To Know

  • An Ohio grandfather thinks grandparents and grandchildren should have open dialogue

  • Pew data in 2020 shows 40% of Americans avoid talking about politics with family

  • Braver Angels saw a lack of tolerance both in families and among strangers, and committed to do something about it

“I think you should be able to talk to anybody about anything,” said John Vincent.

But he’s unsure about his reasonable expectation.

“Can we? Probably not,” he said, referencing the current political climate.

And the outlook spills over to family talks.

Pew Research Center data in 2020 shows 40% of Americans avoid talking about politics with family. For those with views different from their family’s, the number jumps to 7 in 10.

John and his granddaughter, Emma, don’t see eye-to-eye politically, but they do talk politics. John said he was Democrat his entire life.

“Until Obama. I didn’t like him,” he said. “Still don’t like him.”

Emma’s not so happy with another former president. John claims that fewer people crossed the southern border illegally during the Trump administration. Emma reminds him:

“Yeah, but he also was like, ‘we have rapists and drug dealers coming into our country,’” said Emma.

“Well, we do,” John replied.

Emma said she doesn’t believe that’s everyone crossing the border illegally.

“Well, it’s not everyone,” John said. “But it’s people coming over.”

And so go the talks.

Emma said she’s more moderate. She agrees with ideas from both parties. John, less so these days.

“If the Republicans don’t win the Senate, I think the country’s shot,” he said. “I really do.”

Emma and John have a healthy relationship and enjoy their talks.

“We know that we have this tolerance with each other that we can talk about,” Emma said. “It’s fine.”

But after the 2016 election, the founders of the organization Braver Angels saw a lack of tolerance both in families and among strangers. They committed to do something about it.

Bev Horstman of Springboro is Ohio’s Braver Angels co-coordinator. For Horstman, being a Braver Angel is rooted in the grandparent/child bond.

“When my grandson was 10 years old, we’re actually sitting around the kitchen table. And he said to me, ‘Grandma, I don’t know. The donkeys and the elephants have really messed everything up for us. What’s the world gonna be like when I grow up?’”

While Horstman does her part, Robyn Brands engages with Olivia Riggs, a University of Cincinnati student.

Brands and other Braver Angels members showed their discussion approach in Olivia’s class.

Olivia, who identifies as a liberal, followed up with Brands online about something she noticed in another Braver Angel who visited the class. This person identified as a Trump supporter who talked about his connection to church.

“Even though I’m very liberal, I’m very connected with the church as well, so I was able to find common ground in that,” Riggs told Brands.