Beautiful table with Thanksgiving food
Beautiful table with Thanksgiving food

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.

“We are grate­ful for our fam­i­ly and friends and for all of our fel­low Amer­i­cans, even those whom we may nev­er meet but rely upon nonethe­less,” Pres­i­dent Biden’s 20222 Thanks­giv­ing Day Procla­ma­tion declares.

“We are thank­ful for the sci­en­tists, researchers, doc­tors, and nurs­es who have kept us safe through a pan­dem­ic, and for the front­line work­ers who have kept essen­tial ser­vices going by grow­ing and pro­vid­ing food for our tables.  We are grate­ful to faith lead­ers for their coun­sel, com­fort, and sup­port.  We thank our brave ser­vice mem­bers and vet­er­ans who sac­ri­fice so much for our free­dom, and the first respon­ders who put so much on the line to keep us all safe.”

Here are some of the things our team at NPI is thank­ful for this year:

The passage of King County Charter Amendment 1

Vot­ers this year said yes to mov­ing elec­tions for twelve impor­tant King Coun­ty posi­tions to even-num­bered years — an idea con­ceived and devel­oped here at NPI and brought to fruition with the help of King Coun­ty Coun­cil Chair Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci and six oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of the King Coun­ty Council.

This vic­to­ry means that by the end of this decade, we’ll elect the King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive, Asses­sor, Elec­tions Direc­tor, and Coun­cil in years when most vot­ers return a bal­lot, and when turnout is more diverse.

Our thanks to every­one who helped pass King Coun­ty Char­ter Amend­ment 1, which has the sup­port of more than 69% of King Coun­ty vot­ers.

Democratic statehouse trifectas

The peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon vot­ed for Demo­c­ra­t­ic tri­fec­tas again this year. Mean­while, vot­ers in sev­er­al oth­er states also elect­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic tri­fec­tas after years of divid­ed gov­ern­ment (like in Mary­land, Mass­a­chu­setts, Michi­gan). With Repub­li­cans unwill­ing to take action on issues like cli­mate dam­age, gun vio­lence, mass incar­cer­a­tion, sys­temic racism, school fund­ing, bal­lot access, or com­bat­ing extrem­ism, Demo­c­ra­t­ic tri­fec­tas are a pre­req­ui­site for pass­ing leg­is­la­tion that helps peo­ple live safer, hap­pi­er, health­i­er lives.

The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ inves­ti­ga­tion into the hor­rif­ic insur­rec­tion­ist assault on our seat of gov­ern­ment has irrefutably doc­u­ment­ed that Don­ald Trump and his enablers incit­ed an attack on Con­gress in order to dis­rupt the law­ful trans­fer of pow­er from one admin­is­tra­tion to anoth­er; then stood back and took no action while mem­bers of Con­gress and Trump’s own Vice Pres­i­dent were flee­ing for their lives, includ­ing ultra MAGA Repub­li­cans like Josh “Hawl­in” Haw­ley. Through a series of thought­ful­ly pro­duced hear­ings, the Select Com­mit­tee told the sto­ry of the attack and who was behind it. Kevin McCarthy’s cau­cus can dis­band the com­mit­tee in the next Con­gress, but won’t be able to bury its fine work.

Projects to ensure access to reproductive healthcare

The Supreme Court’s awful Dobbs deci­sion has imper­iled access to repro­duc­tive health­care for mil­lions of Amer­i­can women and peo­ple capa­ble of giv­ing birth. Many Repub­li­can and right wing con­trolled states have crim­i­nal­ized abor­tion care, forc­ing clin­ics and providers to shut down or cease pro­vid­ing abor­tions. Orga­ni­za­tions like INeedAnA, the Yel­lowham­mer Fund, and the Repro Legal Defense Fund from If/When/How: Lawyer­ing for Repro­duc­tive Jus­tice have stepped up to fill the void left by the paral­y­sis caused by Repub­li­can obstruc­tion­ism in Congress.

NPI supporters

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

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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