NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing, every­one!

Since World War II, Amer­i­cans have gath­ered togeth­er on the fourth Thurs­day of Novem­ber to cel­e­brate the year’s boun­ty and bless­ings, shar­ing food, friend­ship, and — in many hous­es — foot­ball. This year, the fourth Thurs­day of Novem­ber hap­pens to fall very late in the month, and unusu­al­ly, it also coin­cides with the Jew­ish cel­e­bra­tion of Hanukkah (the Fes­ti­val of Lights). If you are Jew­ish, we wish you a very Hap­py Hanukkah in addi­tion to Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing!

Thanks­giv­ing in North Amer­i­ca has its roots in feasts of thanks giv­ing held by ear­ly immi­grants to this con­ti­nent. The pil­grims who land­ed in Mass­a­chu­setts in the 1620s held such a feast in 1621; the par­ty appar­ent­ly went on for three days. Thanks­giv­ing became a fed­er­al hol­i­day under the pres­i­den­cy of Abra­ham Lin­coln; in 1863, Lin­coln pro­claimed a nation­al day of Thanks­giv­ing on Novem­ber 26th.

Dur­ing the pres­i­den­cy of Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt, the date of Thanks­giv­ing was fixed to the fourth Thurs­day of Novem­ber. Most years, Thanks­giv­ing falls on or before Novem­ber 25th, but some­times Novem­ber 1st falls on a Fri­day or Sat­ur­day, and that makes the fourth Thurs­day fall late in the month.

This results in a short­er shop­ping sea­son, because Christ­mas is always Decem­ber 25th (and could be a rea­son why more retail­ers have cho­sen to open on Thanks­giv­ing this year, a trend we very much dis­like and oppose).

Thanks­giv­ing ought to be about reflect­ing and enjoy­ing the com­pa­ny of fam­i­ly and friends, not shop­ping and work­ing. We don’t get enough leisure time or rest time in this coun­try, and that’s a real shame.

From Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma’s Thanks­giv­ing address:

We give thanks to every­one who’s doing their part to make the Unit­ed States a bet­ter, more com­pas­sion­ate nation – who spend their Thanks­giv­ing vol­un­teer­ing at a soup kitchen, or join­ing a ser­vice project, or bring­ing food and cheer to a lone­ly neigh­bor.

That big-heart­ed gen­eros­i­ty is a cen­tral part of our Amer­i­can char­ac­ter. We believe in lend­ing a hand to folks who need it. We believe in pitch­ing in to solve prob­lems even if they aren’t our prob­lems. And that’s not a one-day-a-year belief. It’s part of the fab­ric of our nation.

And we remem­ber that many Amer­i­cans need that help­ing hand right now. Amer­i­cans who’ve lost their jobs and can’t get a new one through no fault of their own. Amer­i­cans who’ve been trapped in pover­ty and just need that help­ing hand to climb out. Cit­i­zens whose prayers and hopes move us to act.

We are a peo­ple who are greater togeth­er than we are on our own.  That’s what today is about. That’s what every day should be about. No mat­ter our dif­fer­ences, we’re all part of one Amer­i­can fam­i­ly. We are each other’s keep­er. We are one nation, under God.

That core tenet of our Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence has guid­ed us from the ear­li­est days of our found­ing – and it will guide us to a future that’s even brighter than today.

Here are some of the things we’re thank­ful for:

  • We’re thank­ful that vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton over­whelm­ing­ly defeat­ed Ini­tia­tive 517, Tim Eyman’s most self-serv­ing ini­tia­tive ever. I‑517 was crushed this fall with 62.71% of the vote, set­ting a new record for the fail­ure of a Tim Eyman mea­sure, per­cent­age-wise. NPI helped orga­nize the coali­tion against I‑517.
  • We’re thank­ful for fil­i­buster reform, and for Har­ry Rei­d’s courage in bring­ing for­ward a pro­pos­al to pre­vent Repub­li­cans from robot­i­cal­ly block­ing any of Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s nom­i­nees from being con­firmed. We’ve been long­ing to see the Sen­ate return to oper­at­ing by major­i­ty vote for a long time.
  • We’re thank­ful for the elec­tion of Pope Fran­cis. In Fran­cis, the Roman Catholic Church has a true leader focused on reform, a pon­tiff who cares deeply about eco­nom­ic jus­tice and eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty for all.
  • We’re thank­ful that work­ers in Wash­ing­ton are demand­ing fair wages and ben­e­fits, and delight­ed that vot­ers in SeaT­ac have passed Propo­si­tion 1, the Good Jobs ini­tia­tive, which will raise the min­i­mum wage in the city to $15 an hour, which will make a big dif­fer­ence for many low income fam­i­lies.
  • We’re thank­ful that a mil­i­tary strike on Syr­ia was avert­ed with the cre­ation of an inter­na­tion­al frame­work to dis­man­tle the Assad regime’s chem­i­cal weapons arse­nal. And we’re thank­ful that U.S. efforts to nego­ti­ate with Iran on its nuclear pro­gram have met with ini­tial suc­cess.
  • We’re thank­ful that so many peo­ple keep the spir­it of vol­un­teerism alive in our neigh­bor­hoods, in cities big and small, and towns far and wide.
  • We’re grate­ful for the work of our part­ner orga­ni­za­tions: Pro­gres­sive Radio North­west, Respon­si­ble Choic­es Wash­ing­ton and TaxSanity.org.
  • We’re thank­ful that activist friends in British Colum­bia are still com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing wild places like Clay­oquot Sound, which are tru­ly some of our region’s most majes­tic nat­ur­al trea­sures, worth pre­serv­ing.
  • We’re thank­ful for the reau­tho­riza­tion of the Vio­lence Against Women Act and for the increased pro­tec­tions it pro­vides to Native Amer­i­can women and women who do not iden­ti­fy as het­ero­sex­u­al.
  • We’re thank­ful that mar­riage equal­i­ty has come to Cal­i­for­nia, New Jer­sey, Illi­nois, and Hawaii, and we’re grate­ful for the Supreme Court’s deci­sion strik­ing down the “Defense of Mar­riage Act” as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.

Final­ly, we’re thank­ful for our ser­vice­mem­bers, par­tic­u­lar­ly the sailors and air­crew that have been work­ing in the Philip­pines to help sur­vivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan recov­er from one of the worst storms to make land­fall in record­ed his­to­ry.

We hope your Thanks­giv­ing Day is pleas­ant and enjoy­able.

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