It’s been a tough year, what with soaring unemployment, disasters both human-made and natural, and brutal political battles. So this Thanksgiving, I asked leading progressives: is there a silver lining to all of these storm clouds? Some found deep values, some found humor, but all found something important to think about this holiday season.
What are you thankful for this year?
“I am thankful for the Web. It is an enormous potential equalizer in giving progressives without money comparable input into public debate as the right-wingers with lots of money. In this vein, the Huffington Post’s webhits are going up. The Washington Post’s circulation is going down.” – Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research
“I’m thankful that Sarah Palin might actually run for president. It will be a lot of fun to watch and we can feel confident that in the end she will be fully refudiated.” – Eric Alterman, columnist and author most recently of Why We’re Liberals
“That even in a time of broken ideals, our idealism can still keep us pushing forward. I am also thankful that the Fed and the Obama administration have not yet completed their transfer of private wealth to the small handful of too-big-to-exist banks.” – Joshua Rosner, Managing Director, Graham Fisher & Co., Inc.
“That there aren’t enough jobs in our government, political parties, and mass media for the turkeys who want them.” – Thomas Ferguson, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow, Professor of Political Science at U Mass, Boston, and author of Golden Rule
“That the GOP ran three certifiably insane Tea Party candidates in Nevada, Colorado, and Delaware, thereby ensuring that the Democrats at least retained control of the Senate, and thereby arresting the complete descent into the abyss.” – Marshall Auerback, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow
“I am grateful to Social Security, which made it possible for our family to avoid economic disaster when my father died of a second heart attack when he was 41. I am grateful to a nation in which I could be a serial whistle blower, exposing the misconduct of two presidential employees, the Speaker of the House James Wright, and the ‘Keating Five’ — and survive. And I am grateful to the Ancients, who faced a vastly crueler world and recognized that the key was for each of us to try to repair it, and whose advice has led generations to make those repairs, rather than accepting cruelty, greed, exploitation, and indifference as the natural state. I am thankful for all who came before and worked to make things better.” – Bill Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and white-collar criminologist
“We’re grateful that Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas did not win the Mirror Ball Trophy on Dancing with the Stars, although we’re still confused as to which one was the star.” – Naomi Cahn, John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School, and June Carbone, Edward A. Smith/Missouri Chair of Law, the Constitution and Society at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, co-authors of Red Families v. Blue Families
“That we still have enough of a semblance of rule of law in this country that judges are not giving banks a free pass on the failure to adhere to the terms of their own contracts and the abuse of legal processes.” – Yves Smith, founding editor of Naked Capitalism and author of ECONned
“I’m grateful that the Predator drones our government has deployed along the Mexican border appear to be unarmed.” Roger D. Hodge, author of The Mendacity of Hope
“I am thankful for the community of people who perceive that the social benefit often differs from private benefit and who reach beyond narrow self interest to find meaning in life through the courageous struggle for civilization and public good. And I am thankful for investigative reporting, vibrant debate, documentary film, my family, beautiful art, literature, poetry and especially music. I feel gratitude for the capacity to experience awe such as I do when listening to the sparkling creations of Thelonius Monk and the spiritual power of John Coltrane.” — Rob Johnson, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the Project on Global Finance
“Thankful for the fact the Progressives seem to have woken up, feel abandoned, are angry, want information and steps to take. AlterNet traffic SINCE the election has broken every record by far, and over the past three weeks is averaging more than 700k UNIQUE visitors a week. On November 17th we had 257,594 visits, and 507,119 page views, according to Google analytics — one day. And suddenly Google news is featuring our articles, which is a new development. Hope it lasts.” – Don Hazen, Executive Editor at AlterNet
“I am thankful that with a democratic senate majority, President Obama has two more years to show some audacity and for progressives to cool off the brewing and growing Tea Party.” – Rev. Marcia Dyson, affiliate with the Center for Social Justice, Research, Teaching and Service at Georgetown University
“I’m thankful because every new political dynamic brings its own opportunity for victories. After the Republican victory in 1994, our trouncing them on the government shutdown reminded people of the things they liked about government. After the demoralizing Bush re-election in 2004, when the GOP controlled every branch, our smashing of Social Security privatization sparked a new progressive awakening. We can beat these bastards again if we hang together and don’t wimp out.” – Mike Lux, CEO of Progressive Strategies, L.L.C.
“From California, I’m grateful that the jobs of governor and senator did not go to the highest bidders. I’m grateful for two new Supreme Court justices who will make a difference for years to come. I’m grateful that the economic slide was halted and reforms are underway in health care, finance, and consumer protection. I’m grateful we have a Secretary of Labor who is listening to workers and their unions and moving in a progressive direction. I’m grateful we still have General Motors and an auto industry in this country. We have a long way to go and the next two years are going to be tough, but I’m grateful we have Barack Obama in the White House.” – Brigid O’Farrell, author most recently of She Was One of Us
“I am thankful that the Blue Dog caucus was slashed in half. Also thankful for the blogosphere and dedicated progressive bloggers in particular for their unrelenting work.” – Pavlina Tcherneva, assistant professor of Economics at Franklin and Marshall College
“I am thankful that the Founding generation gave us the revolutionary Declaration, the Preamble to the Constitution, and the First Amendment… thankful that generations of radicals, progressives, and liberals pushed for truly separating church and state, guaranteeing working people’s rights, abolishing slavery, securing an ‘American standard of living,’ and subjecting capital to democratic ‘regulation’… thankful that FDR and the generation of the 1930s and 1940s fought the Great Depression and World War II and did so by making American life richer, freer, more equal, and more democratic in the process… thankful that my own generation challenged the powers that be on the war in Southeast Asia, advanced the civil and political rights of minorities and women, and addressed poverty, workplace evils, and environmental degradation… and thankful that — for all of their efforts to have it otherwise — conservatives and corporate leaders haven’t yet succeeded in erasing the memory and legacy of all that from our lives. Indeed, for all that I remain not only thankful, but also hopeful.” – Harvey J. Kaye, Professor of Social Change and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America
“We actually have a lot to be thankful for and we shouldn’t make light of it. Led off, of course, by the fact that for the first time in our nation’s history we’ve passed a law that establishes a government obligation to make health care affordable to people. If that takes hold, it will address what Dr. King called the most shocking and inhumane of our nation’s injustices: inequity in health care. We can be thankful that in that same health care bill is a law that will save college students and their families huge amounts of money by having the government directly finance student loans. That we saw a huge reminder of the role that government plays in holding our economy together, in the financial crisis, auto rescue and economic recovery package. And that even in the financial reform bill that so many have been critical of, the government still stood up to much of the entreaty of the financial industry and moved us back to a world where government regulation is seen as a solution, not a problem. We make light of all this at our peril. We need instead to build on it.” – Richard Kirsch, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow
“I am thankful that the population is finally reacting to financialization run amuck: in commodities markets, in real estate markets, in health care, and in life insurance. Americans have sent a clear signal to Washington that they are not going to take it anymore. The Democrats have been taking money hand-over-fist from the most rapacious Wall Street insiders who have ever lived, only to find out that Wall Street owes no allegiance to anyone. Unless the Obama administration wakes up and takes them on, not only will he be a one-term president but he will be remembered for helping to drive the economy into another great collapse.” – L. Randall Wray, Professor of economics and research director of the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability at the University of Missouri-Kansas City
“I’m thankful for Bill Maher, who has been speaking progressive truth and common sense more forcefully than just about anyone in the weeks leading up to the election. I’m also thankful that a majority of voters dislike the Republicans as much as the Democrats, and Wall Street at least as much as government. If Obama and the Democrats will take the right lessons from the last two years, stand up forcefully to Wall Street, tell the people what government can do and has done for them, and finally learn how to get the message out, the losses of 2010 can turn out to have been useful.” – Robert S. McElvaine, Chair of the Department of History at Millsaps College