NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Thursday, November 25th, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving 2021!

Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing, everyone!

Since World War II, when Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt and Con­gress agreed on a date, Amer­i­cans have gath­ered on the fourth Thurs­day of Novem­ber to cel­e­brate the bless­ings of the year and express grat­i­tude for boun­ti­ful harvests.

The hol­i­day actu­al­ly dates all the way back to the 1500s, when some of the first Euro­peans to reach North Amer­i­ca gave thanks for what they had. The first Thanks­giv­ing in what is now the Unit­ed States is thought by many his­to­ri­ans to have been cel­e­brat­ed by the Span­ish at St. Augus­tine, Flori­da, in 1565. There were also Thanks­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tions in Vir­ginia in 1619, two years before the Pil­grims and the Wampanoag Native Amer­i­cans com­mem­o­rat­ed the often-depict­ed life­sav­ing har­vest at Ply­mouth Plan­ta­tion in Massachusetts.

Abra­ham Lin­coln made use of both Thanks­giv­ing, in the 1860s large­ly cel­e­brat­ed north of the Mason-Dixon Line, espe­cial­ly with­in New Eng­land, and Christ­mas, cel­e­brat­ed large­ly to the south, toward fur­ther unit­ing the nation. That, in turn, ini­ti­at­ed the change in mean­ing for Thanks­giv­ing, even­tu­al­ly pro­vid­ing room to dis­cuss in pub­lic the suf­fer­ing of Native Amer­i­cans over the centuries.

It’s a good time to reflect on that with which we’ve been blessed, to pray for those who aren’t as for­tu­nate, to remem­ber those, as stat­ed in Pres­i­dent Biden’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Procla­ma­tion, “…feel­ing the pain of an emp­ty chair at the Thanks­giv­ing table,” and to con­sid­er next steps for the com­ing year.

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

COVID-19 relief + overdue investments in public services

We’re thank­ful that we have a pres­i­dent, vice pres­i­dent and Con­gress who are focused on try­ing to raise up peo­ple’s lives instead of using gov­ern­ment as a weapon to pun­ish their adversaries.

Thanks to Joe Biden, Kamala Har­ris, and Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of Con­gress, the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan and the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act are now law, and Build Back Bet­ter is on its way to join­ing them.

COVID-19 vaccines and new medicines

We’re thank­ful for vac­cines that pro­tect against COVID-19 and have made it pos­si­ble to resume many pre-pan­dem­ic activ­i­ties with less risk.

We’re also thank­ful for the like­ly immi­nent avail­abil­i­ty of Mol­nupi­ravir and Paxlovid, which in tests reduced the need for hos­pi­tal­iza­tion of the unvac­ci­nat­ed by 50% and 85%, respectively.

Essential workers

We’re thank­ful for the essen­tial employ­ees, espe­cial­ly those work­ing in schools, retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties, nurs­ing homes, and hos­pi­tals, who have served their com­mu­ni­ties through this dif­fi­cult time; and for those that have worked incred­i­bly hard to be large­ly inclu­sive and inven­tive in the midst of a very dif­fi­cult time.

We’re thank­ful that work­ers, in the midst of the pan­dem­ic, have found their lim­it and their voice, who refuse to be treat­ed some­where between shab­bi­ly and dan­ger­ous­ly in accom­plish­ing their tasks, who have decid­ed that their hap­pi­ness lies beyond the pay­check, at least for a lit­tle while, and who have decid­ed that now is the time to deter­mine what hap­pi­ness and con­tent­ment through employ­ment real­ly means for them.

Unions and worker organizing on the rise

We’re thank­ful for the byprod­ucts of the Great Res­ig­na­tion — bet­ter treat­ment on the job for many, improved con­tracts for union­ized employ­ees, and an increas­ing desire for the unor­ga­nized to get organized.

The end of Britney Spears’ conservatorship

We’re thank­ful for #FreeBrit­ney, a move­ment that drew need­ed atten­tion to con­ser­va­tor­ships, a legal sys­tem of restric­tions and con­trols some­times imposed on dis­abled or elder­ly peo­ple through the courts, and cre­at­ed the space not just to address the most mar­gin­al cas­es of mis­tak­en or mis­placed con­ser­va­tor­ships and guardian­ships, but to rethink the whole ratio­nale for these arrangements.

Advances in renewable energy

We’re thank­ful for the con­tin­u­ing plum­met in the cost of solar and wind pow­er, some­thing that as recent­ly as a decade ago was con­sid­ered a “some­day dream.”

Coal is on track to become too expen­sive to use in most of the west­ern world. Chi­na is hav­ing major argu­ments from with­in its lead­er­ship over its use (and present­ly is increas­ing use large­ly because cli­mate dam­age is hit­ting them far hard­er than it is in North Amer­i­ca, which is hard to believe, at times, but true), which will like­ly become moot once their elec­tri­cal trans­mis­sion net­works are back on track. Rare earth mate­ri­als may soon not be need­ed as part of the pro­duc­tion process, and new means of acquir­ing ener­gy are on track to become a reality.

Cost of living increases

We’re thank­ful for retirees receiv­ing a 5.9% boost in their ben­e­fits start­ing in 2022 – the largest cost of liv­ing increase since 1982.

NPI supporters

And final­ly, we’re thank­ful that we were able to expand our research polling to the local lev­el this year. Many Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­ers stepped up with con­tri­bu­tions to make that hap­pen. You’re the best! Have a great Thanksgiving.

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