Alan Zendell, November 23, 2017

Trite as it may sound, I really do think about what I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving. In this era of Trump, many of my friends and family have been struggling to identify the good things that have occurred this year, so overwhelmingly depressing has been the Year of the Blowhard.

The main thing for me is that we’re all thankful for being together, a wonderful extended family of people who have been doing this together for many years despite having migrated all over the country.  We need it more than ever this year, as we are reminded daily of how our country’s values are being destroyed one tweet at a time.

In case we’d forgotten (since yesterday) our president reminded us all of what a narcissistic jerk he truly is today. On the face of it, a world-spanning broadcast thanking our armed forces for everything they do seems like the perfect touch for Thanksgiving Day. But Trump, as usual, had to make himself the centerpiece. Rather than humbly thanking them for their service, he thanked himself for his brilliant leadership which enabled the military to perform better. What’s more, there’s no evidence that anything our president has done has improved the military’s performance – by all appearances, they accomplished that entirely on their own.

It’s a nauseating reminder of what we’ve been enduring since Trump took office, but we’re not going to let it tarnish our own Thanksgiving. Instead, we will spread love and make sure everyone around us knows that we’re grateful to have them for another year.

For today, we’ll ignore the fact that our president cares more about retaining a vote in the Senate to support the tax bill that will enrich his family by billions, than preserving whatever integrity that body still has in this time of divisive politics. Coming out in favor of Roy Moore may have been the last straw, at least until the next outrageous thing he does. As we’ve often noted, Mr. President, our children watch and hear everything you do.

You’ve told our kids that it’s okay to deprive over 20 million Americans of health care. You’ve told them that behaving like a schoolyard bully is the best way to deal with conflict situations. You’ve told them that science doesn’t matter, and that you don’t give a damn about the state of the planet they will inherit from us. You’ve told them that spiteful, hateful behavior is acceptable, and there’s no need to observe any rules they don’t like. You’ve told them that bigots and Nazis are perfectly fine people as long as they vote for you.

And now you’ve enhanced your image as Liar-in-Chief of the nation by equating denial with innocence and contrition with guilt. No matter what they’re accused of or how credible the accusers and the preponderance of evidence supporting the allegations, in Trump’s world all our children have to do is call everyone else liars and loudly proclaim that all the evidence against them is fake. You’ve made every parent’s job more difficult by contradicting everything we’ve taught them. You’re a disgrace!

But there’s hope. An impressive number of sitting Representatives and Senators have had the courage to speak out. Lights are being shined on actions of sexual abuse that have remained in the dark far too long. And on Election Day, 2017, the voters made it clear that enough is enough. We still have a lot of work to do to reverse the damage that’s been done. And if our president won’t keep his promise to drain the swamp, we can do it ourselves by casting our votes and holding our elected officials accountable.

It’s up to all of us to call hypocrisy what it is. It’s up to us to figure out what’s true and what’s fake. We need to protect our values and institutions, our journalistic traditions, and our legal system. We need to be skeptical about everything we hear – Facebook posts and tweets are not news. The best way to demonstrate that we’re thankful for what we have is to defend it.

But enough of that. The rest of today is about being grateful to be with people we love and who love us.

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