Thanksgiving edition HERE'S TO THE BRAVE PEOPLE WHO NEVER STOPPED HOPING AND CARING
MOST OF US, as citizens, feel powerless. This is understandable, but wrong. In truth we are almost powerless, with “almost” being the key word. It’s a fact that there are enormous things that no one of us can do almost nothing about. We can’t stop Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine. New Englanders can’t stop Floridians from reelecting Ron DeSantis as governor, having proved himself Donald Trump’s worthy alternative by playing the cruel bully to immigrants, gays, transgender kids and Mickey Mouse. There seems to be no stopping the mass-murdering gunmen, who claim a Constitutional right to kill people who shop and work at Walmart, dance at Club Q and play football in Virginia or who attend school anywhere or who worship in this church or that synagogue. There’s not much you can do to stop Congressional people who villainize a wise, gentle healer like Anthony Fauci. We can’t stop someone in Warwick, Rhode Island from plastering a “Let’s Go, Brandon” sticker on his street-facing windows. We couldn’t stop Trump’s multi-pronged assault on democracy. Couldn’t shame him for being a sore loser. Couldn’t stop him from rallying his supporters to attack the most sacred space in American culture, hoping that maybe they'd get a chance to assassinate a Vice President (R) and a House Speaker (D). Can’t seem to slow, much less stop, the man-made destruction of our own planet despite Biblical-scale warnings of floods, fires, droughts, famine or the worry of scientists who miss the mark only because they keep underestimating the pace and scope of the coming disaster.
BUT HOLD ON Many of us are sleeping better these days; we’re a tad more cheerful; we have other things besides politics to talk about. It’s because some terrific things happened in the midterm elections. Although Nov. 8 seems fading fast in the rearview, it’s still encouraging that the Republican takeover of local, state and federal governments flopped. Democrats held the Senate. Republicans took the House, but by a small margin. And Donald Trump declared for president, which is excellent news for Democrats, since he's the one unifying figure that can inspire an always squabbling party, increasing the chances that someone normal will go to the White House. Although the recent planetary environmental conference ended in disgrace, with no new limits on greenhouse gasses and empty sounding promises by big polluting countries to help tiny, non-polluting countries, there is growing recognition of the danger, and plenty of practical steps underway to do something about it. For example, it seems unlikely the auto companies will reverse their drive to build electric cars.
MEANING there's lots to reflect on this Thanksgiving. I think the most important is that millions of people of goodwill have never stopped hoping and caring about making the world a better place. They do this despite the frustrations of being almost powerless. And despite the pain and strain that are the byproducts of hope and caring; they know and accept that’s the price they pay to stay in the game. I’m not talking about people who have more power than most of us: the candidates, government officials, corporate chieftains, political organizers, volunteers, media barons, pundits, reporters, broadcasters, podcasters, forecasters. The people I’m thinking about are everyone else, with just their puny one vote each and their disgust with Donald Trump as he savaged our democracy, having watched almost helpless;y as he got away, and keeps on getting away, with Constitutional crimes, among other, more ordinary, offenses.
I WILL REMEMBER 2022 as the year in which millions of people did not abandon their embrace of kindness, commitment to lawfulness and respect for decency; they kept faith with fundamental, human values of progress. That faith was a real, if nearly invisible force, one that was impossible for pollsters to measure or for the pundits to recognize. But, multiplied millions times, almost powerless, but always caring, hopeful individuals formed the essential consensus that held the country together and defined its character. They are the custodian's of what Joe Biden calls "the soul of America." I’m not arguing that it’s enough to sit in our kitchens and living rooms and just wish that things will turn out okay. A democracy depends on its citizens doing real things every year, in every election, like voting, following the news, donating to candidates, attending school board meeting and even running for office. But goodwill – made up of hope and caring – is the core that makes a nation move forward. I’m in awe of the people who have kept the faith. Thank you.
I'VE BEEN a reporter and writer for 58 years, long enough to have learned that journalists don't know very much, although I've met some smart ones. Mainly, what reporters know comes from asking other people questions and fretting about the answers. This blog is a successor to one inspired by our dog, Phoebe, who was smart, sweet and the antithesis of Donald Trump. She died Feb. 3, and I don't see getting over that very soon. Occasionally, I may try to reach her via cell phone.