Just a few thoughts on Thanksgiving because I KNOW that not many bloggers have talked about it in the last few days. Sorry, I don't have any cute pictures or funny stories to tell.
Running up to the holiday, I read a number of articles talking about how one should by no means discuss politics at Thanksgiving dinner with family members they know don't agree with their views. And usually I try to stick with that rule. I don't discuss politics or religion with anyone who has a sharp instrument, like a barber or an aunt cutting a turkey. So I took my few minutes when I first woke up to list some of the things I am thankful I have in my life and left it at that.
But of course, at the dinner for my mother's side of the family politics came up. This usually isn't a big deal because even though I hold degrees in Political Science and History, my aunts and uncles still see me as a 10 year old boy, so I don't have to field many tough questions. But this year, I had a long discussion with one of my uncles who is much more conservative that I am. OK, much, much more conservative than I am. What was interesting though, was the amount of things we tried to agree on. Partly, this was due to the fact that we spent very little time talking about the President and his antics. I have the feeling that many members of my family voted for him, so we normally start from an "agree to disagree" stance that would make me look like a traitor to many of the liberals in the county. But I came to see that as the point. My discussion with my uncle didn't leave either one of us with an enlightened political point of view. Nor was there a choir of angels showing us the "real" truth with what is wrong with America. What our talk did do is two things: it left us in some agreement with what the priorities in America should be (without many solutions) clear to everyone but still aren't happening. But more importantly it left me with the feeling that people still can have a civil discourse about politics in America; specifically when they care about the what the other person thinks.
I am very guilty of buying too much into the media notions that the nation is more radically divided now than ever before and the polls that show the "middle of the road" is gone. And it is clear that the government is at a standstill because of these divides. I am certainly not dancing past these problems!
But now I have to wonder if this dramatic conclusion is more a product of the 24 hour media cycle and the extremes of both sides in America than what is going on with the majority of people, especially in the "fly-over" states that "mysteriously" voted heavily for the President. There are protests and yelling and calls for accountability that are good and probably way over due for this nation. But there are also people, who have vast differences about the President and his actions, but agree on what they want done in America. It seems to me that the people who voted for Trump aren't too much different than those who voted for Sanders or stayed home. There is (what is left) of a middle class in America that are made up of people who are worried and angry. They feel like they don't have the economic opportunities they should have and that their parents had. Their wages aren't going up. Wall Street and the rich 1% are doing great, but most of us aren't seeing that money. To paraphrase Big Dan in O Brother Where Art Thou, these are times of "woe and want". Additionally as minorities gain a voice in the national discourse, the dominate class and race feels that they are going to lose their voice. This is a trend that has existed in American politics since the beginning. And it is something I want to talk about in more depth about on this page in the future.
So Thanksgiving left me thankful for getting to see family and the desserts they are able to produce as usual. But it also made me more hopeful, if only a little. Not in a pie in the sky, end of a Disney movie way. I really didn't need that much right now. I just needed to see people who thought they couldn't even talk to people of the "other side" give it a try because they cared about each other and remembered that the person they were talking to loved America as much as they do. As long as they stand up for the national anthem. Just kidding, I don't think I'm ready to talk to my family about that yet!!