They always say that you're not supposed to talk about religion or politics if you want to keep your relationships in good standing, but your brother-in-law just won't take the hint. You try—GOD do you TRY— to laugh politely and walk away, in a good faith effort to not make things more awkward with your in-laws than they already are.
But JESUS H. CHRIST, the crap that comes out of his mouth is enough to make you want to pick up a dining room chair and clock him in the face with it. "Obama isn't an American citizen," "Romney cares about poor people," "Nancy Pelosi looks like a cross between Judy Garland and Skeletor"—it goes on like that for hours. Since he won't listen to facts (as he immediately writes them off as liberal posturing), the only way you'll ever be able to shut him up is via the giving of meaningful, carefully-selected hate gifts. You know, speaking softly and carrying a big stick or some shit (I know, I know, T.Roosevelt was a Republican, SHUT UP).
1. Stuff Every American Should Know ($9.95, Quirk Books): The unfortunate thing about people with big mouths is that they're often completely uninformed. They think that the louder they talk, the more authoritative they sound. Perhaps that's true down at the local Walmart, but among intelligent people, it just sounds like what it is: stupid people shouting. Your brother-in-law could yell until he's blue in the face about Obamacare, and you could refute every single incorrect claim, but you're tired and all of this political posturing is killing your beer buzz. Instead, toss him this book. The title says it all—"Stuff Every American Should Know"—but you can include your own little dig, something along the lines of, "How about you educate yourself what it means to be an American, YOU BIG JERK?" Any resulting punches to the face are totally on you, though.
2. Presidential Glass Set ($48, Uncommon Goods): Regardless of partisan politics in the modern era, both sides of the aisles can generally agree on the "greatness" of the biggies: Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, etc. One freed the slaves, one drafted the Constitution, and one was the first, so he's automatically considered the best (as a first-born child, I can attest to this. Just ask my long-suffering younger brother). You can't believe you actually agree with each other on the general badassery of these historic presidents. You'll fill up these Presidential Glasses (etched with the faces of Lincoln, Jefferson, Jackson, and Roosevelt and filled with relevant factoids) with [American] beer, and cheers to AMERICA.
3. Bitter American Ale (Various Prices, 21st Amendment Brewery): Speaking of beer, while your brother-in-law may deem it "faggy" to opt for microbrews instead of the Budweisers and Coors of the world, there's nothing that shows American ingenuity like the craft brewing revolution. Breweries all over the country are cropping up, allowing consumers to be self-rightous about "drinking local." 21st Amendment out of California is a great one, and its Bitter American Ale will make the perfect gift for your brother-in-law, who is convinced that four more years of Obama will return us all to the Dust Bowl days.
4. The Patriot Art Print ($24, Urban Outfitters): What are the things that represent America? If you ask your brother-in-law, his answers would probably be something along the lines of "the flag," "bald eagles," "obscenely strong military prowess," etc. You see, he represents the contingent of Americans who think that we're #1 and we should be viewed as such. HOWEVER, as David Sedaris so aptly put it, do we really think every other country's motto is "We're #2?" COME ONNNN. Ask anyone other than an American the same question, and their answers would be decidedly different. They'd say shit like "TV," "McDonald's," "obesity," "gun violence," "movie stars," "PEOPLE magazine," and the like. What does this mean? We are viewed by the rest of the world as a bunch of overweight, cowboy-hat-wearing, cheeseburger-eating morons. This is why you were treated rudely in France. This poster will clue your brother-in-law in on how the rest of the world views Americans. He'll hang it proudly.
5. This Country T-Shirt ($34, US of Awesome): Because Lincoln, Spielberg's brand-new biopic (which is doing well in theatres, which hasn't been historically true for Lincoln, har de har har), is such a hot topic this holiday season, you can surely count on the fact that your brother-in-law will bring up old Honest Abe. He'll lean in and say, "You know, Lincoln was a REPUBLICAN." HERE WE GO. You'll debate sticking your head in the oven or some similarly drastic Mary Todd Lincoln-esque move. Listen, Republicans LOVE to talk about Lincoln, just like a mother of six delinquent children likes to talk about her one daughter that didn't turn out to be an illiterate, toothless dirtbag. So let your brother-in-law blather on and on about how it was the REPUBLICANS who had the courage to abolish slavery (which is historically accurate, but irrelevant, considering how political parties shift over time). Give him like 10 minutes. Then say, "Hey, did you know Lincoln was gay?" and walk away as he chokes on his beer.
I almost never talk politics on Twitter, I promise (@AmandaWaas).