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.
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.
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.