As Thanksgiving approaches—the 400th since the very first—I wanted to take some time and explain why I’m grateful to be an American.
First though, let’s be honest. Being thankful may not be easy this year. There’s a lot going wrong in our country right now. We’re entering a very dark period with COVID-19. And our democracy is being tested in ways no one thought possible just a few years ago. The President of the United States still hasn’t conceded the election, and he and his enablers are actively working to undermine or overturn the popular will of the voters. They will fail, but there remain real dangers to our democracy. Most troublingly, 70% of Republicans do not believe our election was free and fair.
Yet despite all of this, I can’t help but be grateful, not only for my friends and family, but for my country.
I am grateful because despite it all, despite the uncertainty, fear, and confusion, despite the threats facing our democracy, despite a virus that continues to ravage our nation, the American experiment will go on. And together, we have the opportunity to help write its next chapter. This is no small thing.
For far too long, we assumed our success as a nation was inexorable. That the freedom, peace, and prosperity that so many of us (not all of us) experience were givens. But I think we now understand how wrong we were. Democracies fail. Great nations collapse. Countries that have known long periods of peace and prosperity have descended into civil war and all manner of internal strife. And as much as we’d like to think our country is exceptional, and it is, that doesn’t exempt it from this historical truth.
And yet, after everything our country has gone through, we have another chance. We have another chance to make sure the American dream becomes a reality for all Americans. We have another chance to make sure our country lives up to the promise of our Declaration. We have another chance to renew our democracy.
Throughout American history, there have been other times, when it must have seemed like everything hung in the balance: The Constitutional Convention, the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis—the list goes on. Like those times, we have always somehow managed, through hard work or providence or both, to make it to the other side. I am grateful that I have found myself at this moment in American history. Together, we have the opportunity to continue the great American experiment. There remains hope in America. Hope for democracy. And hope for a better future.
To everyone, including the RDI team, I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving.
Director of Content & Strategy
Renew Democracy Initiative