Thanksgiving is a distinctly American holiday. Other countries have days celebrating their founding, or their founders, or their history. But Thanksgiving stands out among holidays as a national day of thanks that predates America itself. It’s part of our complicated national story, a part that has grown beyond its roots to not just remember our past, but to look deeply into our present for the good that exists in our lives today.
It can sometimes feel like there’s little to celebrate. It’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong in our lives and in our nation. The power of taking a day to be thankful, is that it forces us to look beyond our immediate troubles, to recognize all the good that surrounds us. We have to recognize how blessed we are, because recognizing all that we have to be thankful for reminds us why we work so hard to protect it.
That’s why we wanted to share with you just some of the things we’re thankful for. First and foremost, we’re thankful to live in a nation where the people respect human liberty, and our constitution enshrines our freedom to govern ourselves. Many people live in countries where that simply isn’t the case, and they long to realize the independence and rights which we enjoy.
We’re also thankful for the countless Republicans, Democrats and independents who regularly put aside partisanship to work together to hold our leaders accountable, fight for the truth, and strengthen our republic. Our collective commitment to freedom and democracy is a powerful force for good in the country and the world.
We should be thankful for the progress our country has made over the last year in improving our electoral systems. From the introduction of ranked-choice voting in several states to a handful of victories over gerrymandering, our democracy has been strengthened in many ways, even as it’s threatened in others. The important work of protecting and improving our elections will continue on, but we should be thankful for the countless voters and advocates who stood up for electoral reforms this year.
Lastly, we’re thankful that America continues to be a diverse, welcoming country. Even as some elements fight to close our borders or drive out immigrants, many more Americans have stood up for our values of inclusiveness and pluralism. No, we aren’t perfect. And of course we have much work to do to create a more equal and just society for all. But the response of individual Americans to hatefulness and xenophobia should give us hope that unity, equality and opportunity are still guiding principles in our great nation.
Most importantly, we should give thanks for our fellow Americans – all of them. Our nation is bound together, our fates intertwined. And while some wish to divide us, we are immeasurably stronger together. We citizens are the most important part of our democracy, and we cannot respect our constitution if we do not respect the rights and freedoms of each and every American.
That includes the people with whom we disagree most strenuously. The diversity of our opinions and preferences is not a weakness, even if it sometimes feels like it drives us apart. Our differences make us stronger, so long as we are committed to respectfully and openly debating them. We have to be able to stand up for our beliefs if we are to remain free to steer our country in a better, more just direction.
So as you surround yourself with friends, family, and neighbors this Thanksgiving, spare a moment to give thanks for everything that makes our democracy work. If we all take the time to recognize just how much we have to be thankful for, we will be reinvigorated to stand up in defense of the blessings of liberty. And when Americans come together in defense of freedom, there’s no end to the good we can do as a people.
Evan McMullin, Mindy Finn & the Stand Up Republic family