Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday as an officially-sanctioned day to convene family members to feast and give thanks for their good fortune. For most Americans, there are myriad things to be thankful for whether it is abundant food, stable families, secure shelter, a job, and good fortune of living in a free representative democracy. However, for many Americans, the only thing they have to be thankful for is that they are alive, and even that right is under assault from other Americans.
Tens-of-millions of Americans will enjoy feasts today, pack leftovers for tomorrow, and strategize their shopping spree on “Black Friday,” but millions of the poor will be thankful if they find a local food charity that provides a free Thanksgiving dinner. A dinner, by the way, that may be their best meal of the year; the concept of leftovers is a fantasy. For too many Americans, Black Friday strategy is finding adequate food for themselves and their families after their shifts at minimum-wage part-time jobs. For other Americans, many of the things they should be thankful for have come under assault and are sources of contention leaving them thankful they can still fight to preserve what they have.
America’s women should be thankful for the small measure of equality and control over their own reproductive rights their predecessors fought to give them. Instead, in Republican-controlled states and the U.S. Congress there is a blatant assault to roll-back the hard-fought reproductive rights, obstruct equal pay for equal work, and prevent passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Senior citizens who worked hard their entire lives and built this country into a once “exceptional nation” should be thankful that because they persevered, paid taxes, contributed to Social Security and Medicare, they have a safe and secure old age. However, they are struggling to survive and face the devastating prospect that Republicans will slash their meager pensions and healthcare leaving them thankful there are Democrats fighting to preserve what they believed was security in their golden years.
People of color are thankful for the sacrifices and due diligence that earned them the right to vote and a semblance of equal rights courtesy of the Civil Rights movement. But because of racists in Republican-led states and conservatives on the Supreme Court, their voting rights are being abridged and they are targets of legal discrimination due to “stop and frisk” laws and stereotyped as thieves by retail businesses.
This country’s churches should be extremely thankful they are exempted from paying the same taxes as the rest of the population and businesses, but despite $82.5 billion in subsidies courtesy of taxpayer largesse, they complain they cannot influence public policy according to their religion. They expose themselves as seminal ingrates because while taking taxpayer money and bemoaning their lack of control over the government, they still violate their agreement with the IRS, the law, and flaunt their campaigning from the pulpit.
The nation’s Veterans could be thankful that after serving their country and going to war, when they return home a grateful nation helps provide them with jobs, housing assistance, and medical care. Tragically, Republicans obstructed the President’s proposal to assist Veterans find work and enacted budget cuts to domestic programs that adversely affect the nation’s Veterans as much as every other American. These are the same Republicans that demanded Americans “support our troops” during the costly Iraq War and claimed to revere returning Veterans who are increasingly homeless, hungry, and face a conservative think tank that calls the Veteran’s Health Administration “unfair.”
The one segment of the population with very little to be thankful for is the ever-growing number of Americans living in poverty. Through no fault of their own they have either lost good jobs or are stuck earning poverty wages and to make matters worse, Republicans are panting to eliminate the food and healthcare assistance low-wage jobs force them to use. Americans in the so-called “middle class” this Thanksgiving might be thankful they are not living in poverty, but they are one accident, illness, or job loss away from joining the ever-increasing poverty ranks and they have little guarantee next Thanksgiving will not find them seeking a local food-bank for a free Thanksgiving meal. In the richest nation in the history of the world, it is a travesty that every man, woman, and child in America is not thankful for the bounty this country has the means to provide with good jobs, living wages, excellent healthcare, a superior infrastructure, good public schools, and a secure retirement.
There are plenty of things for all Americans to be thankful for, but sadly, a substantial segment of the population has little reason to be grateful on this official “day of thanksgiving.” On the White House website, it asks all Americans sitting down to enjoy their Thanksgiving feast to remember there are tens-of-millions of Americans dependent on food stamps for their basic nutrition, and that Republicans do not have to hurt children, seniors, Veterans, and vulnerable families with their Draconian cuts. If nothing else, Americans should be thankful the President is reminding Americans that too many of this country’s citizens are hungry and supports an agenda to solve the hunger problem. Hopefully when people are feasting, relaxing, watching parades and football games with their families in safe and secure homes, they will take pause and realize that nearly 50 million Americans are likely enjoying the best meal they will have all year, and be hungry again tomorrow.
On a personal note, this author is thankful for PoliticusUSA. All of the authors contributing their time and energy to inform other Americans about why we’re in such a state, and how we get out of it deserve our gratitude. That writers here work at one, sometimes two jobs, support families, and still dedicate their expertise and talent to help other Americans is a testament to their humanity. Happy Thanksgiving!
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.