DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in a small community, where I am actively involved with a political party that is by far the minority. I consider myself reasonably well-versed in politics, and I am happy to have a civil conversation about it if a person seems genuinely interested in an open exchange of ideas.
But of course, most people are far more interested in telling me why their view is right than in actually participating in a productive discussion. I generally avoid political conversations in social situations such as church and family gatherings, and as a result, many people know me for years before learning my political affiliation.
How should I react when people learn of that affiliation, and immediately express scorn or begin trying to explain to me why I am wrong before even bothering to learn my personal views? I refuse to be drawn into hotheaded political arguments, because they seem like the surest way to end a genial relationship. But by leaving these attacks unanswered, I’m afraid some of my acquaintances are beginning to view me as dim-witted.
GENTLE READER: As that appears to be the result regardless, it seems to Miss Manners that not engaging involves far less effort and preserves more friendships. So does changing the subject.