Editor’s Note: For another viewpoint, see Counterpoint: From the Right: Still Plenty of Reasons for Conservatives to Be Thankful
This year has brought significant hardship to millions of Americans. We have endured an unprecedented pandemic, a major recession, and significant pain and suffering throughout 2020.
Nonetheless, we still have lots to be thankful for, especially as our democracy has endured Donald Trump’s presidency — which has been a nearly four-year assault on democratic norms. This year, Common Cause and our 1.5 million members are thankful for many things, including:
— The record-setting 155-plus million Americans who voted this year.
— An election that was declared the “most secure in American history” by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
— The hundreds of thousands of nonpartisan and bipartisan election officials, poll workers, election protection volunteers, and others who, in some cases, risked their health and their lives to conduct our elections safely and help our democracy run relatively smoothly.
— The hundreds of thousands of Postal Service employees who worked tirelessly throughout this year’s primary and general elections to ensure millions of Americans could vote safely and securely by mail during this pandemic.
— A majority of red, blue and purple states that expanded the right to vote this year to help create free, fair and accessible elections by implementing no-excuse absentee voting, expanded early voting, and other pro-voter reforms.
— The (relative) independence of our democratic institutions and our court system, which has turned away repeated, meritless challenges from the Trump campaign challenging the integrity of our elections.
— Local and national journalists and fact-checkers who continue to expose the truth and demonstrate the effect of this administration’s policies, words, actions and inactions.
— The brave whistleblowers who risked their jobs, and in some cases their safety, to speak truth to power and stand up against corruption in this administration.
— The U.S. House of Representatives for serving as a check on the Trump administration’s never-ending attacks on the rule of law and political norms.
— A handful of congressional Republicans and former Republican officials who have continued to speak out publicly against President Trump’s abuses of power and authoritarian behavior.
— The thousands of Census workers who admirably went door to door during a pandemic, especially in traditionally hard-to-count communities, to ensure that everyone can be counted and guarantee that their communities receive the political representation they deserve and the government funding to which they are entitled and is funded by their taxes.
— State and federal courts that continue to declare Trump’s unlawful attempts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census and apportionment counts as unconstitutional.
— Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s continued commitment to the For the People Act, Congressman John Sarbanes’ transformative bill, which would root out corruption in government, strengthen the right to vote, get big money out of politics, and end partisan gerrymandering.
— The red, blue and purple states and localities that approved ballot initiatives to strengthen the right to vote, to end partisan and racial gerrymandering, to get big money out of politics, and to end the racist Electoral College system.
— The incredible lives and work of the late Congressman John Lewis and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who fought tirelessly for a more inclusive democracy and paved the way for millions of Americans to have their voices heard.
— The few congressional Republicans who have congratulated President-elect Joe Biden after he was on chosen by the American people on Election Day and who have called on the General Services Administration to sign off on the transition to the incoming Biden administration so it can begin to receive intelligence briefings and be fully prepared to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
— The peaceful transfer of power between administrations that is already underway.
— President Trump for graciously conceding and offering congratulations to President-elect Biden for winning the presidential election (we can be hopeful!).
Our democracy has endured wars, pandemics, natural disasters and now a lawless president. And despite that, next year will likely bring more unexpected challenges that we’ll confront as a nation. We nonetheless must be thankful for what we have, as imperfect as our system is. Change has often been cyclical, and following the scandals of the Trump administration, we may soon have a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
If one thing is clear, it’s that we’re on the doorstep of passing a comprehensive reform package to put “we the people” back in charge of our democracy.