This year, I’m thankful for one particular, much-maligned group.
Not a usual choice, I know. And after this historically expensive, long and divisive election cycle – marked by bold faced lies, attacks, and counter attacks, all delivered directly to our homes via non-stop television ads – many ordinary citizens vilified politicians, declaring, "a pox on all their houses," as did many journalists. In fact, it’s become fashionable for self-styled opinion leaders to condemn all politicians as crooks and liars.
But politicians are actually heroes.
From the birth of our nation, brave women and men, engaged as politicians, have led the fight to make our nation a more perfect union, allowing the voices of ordinary citizens to be heard. Thanks to politicians – both professional (elected) and volunteer (non-elected) – we are able to stand up to the status quo and the monied interests. We ended slavery; expanded the right to vote; created free public education; ended more than one unjust war; made abortion and birth control legal; passed Social Security and Medicare; created a social safety net; adopted laws that protect workers lives, health, wages, and their right to collective bargaining; passed laws to protect the environment; and ended laws that were targeted against LGBTQ sexual activities (activities that most of the nation regardless of sexual orientation happily engages in).
We certainly aren’t finished making our union more perfect, but we’re on our way.
As this year’s election proved, none of the rights we fought for are absolutely secure, and we must be ever vigilant and more engaged in politics than ever. The monied interests, however, would love nothing better than to have citizens decry politics and politicians, and tune out, turn off, and drop out.
While others stay on the sidelines criticizing but not engaging, politicians are making our democracy work. They risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to try to make a difference. These public servants often work every day, every night, week day and weekend, throughout our communities and our nation, meeting with citizens and offering solutions.
So this Thanksgiving, please join me in giving thanks for politicians. Without them, we simply would have no democracy.