Political Insiders Give Thanks


This story was updated on Nov. 24 at 1:15 p.m. with new responses.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we asked National Journal's Political Insiders to reflect for a moment on "what should the country be thankful for right now." Their observations ranged from the patriotic to the partisan. But if there is any way to describe the overarching sentiment of the Insiders after a hard-fought election, it may be this: What guides the country's leaders should be the nation's enduring values, not swings in the polls or political pursuits of the moment.

Political Insiders say that the country should be thankful for:

"I am thankful for our fighting men and women, who have far more courage and resilience than any of us here in Washington."

- Jeff Peck, Democratic lobbyist

"The age demographic group, both women and men, 65 and older: Regardless of their 20 percent vote swing from '08 that we just witnessed, the country should be grateful for many of their recurrent qualities. In this sense-it's their participatory action that usually supplies-above all other groups-a reasoning of where we are, and where we need to be. It's a well-earned lesson, and as the wise W.A. Percy would offer, 'What must be learned at last had as well be learned early.' "

- Chris Henick, Republican operative

"I think the country should be thankful that we have the freedom to make choices. They may be choices that improve lives or sometimes diminish them, but they are our choices as individuals and as a nation. We should be thankful for it and we should embrace it every day."

- David Nassar, Democratic operative

"Besides all the various blessings that individuals should be thankful for-too numerous to try to name-we should be quite grateful for the sheer size, and bulk, and resilience of our America. I don't know if the current ills of the nation are cataclysmic or not, but I have every reason to have faith that they're not. So every day remains full of promise, which is as good as it gets."

- Scott Cottington, Republican consultant

"The North and South Koreans are shooting at each other, there is a global sell-off in the world financial markets, and our president and vice president are in Kokomo, Ind., on their endless campaign tour. I am thankful for their usual attention to duty."

- David Norcross, Republican operative

"We should all be thankful for living in the strongest democracy in the world: a nation, governed by laws [and] with a free press, where a person can still start off with little wealth or power and still succeed and realize their dreams."

- Tad Devine, Democratic media consultant

"Despite the sometimes harsh and heated rhetoric on cable, Twitter and elsewhere, we should be thankful that we live in a country where there is the free and open exchange of ideas and opinions. It is not perfect, but it is far better than the alternative."

- Steve Lombardo, Republican pollster 

"We should be grateful that our founders created a constitution that is still functioning 200 years later. We are fortunate to live in a great country--warts and all!"

- Will Robinson, Democratic new media consultant 

"Grateful for the protection we all live under provided by men and women at risk every day."

- Wayne Berman, Republican lobbyist 

"We should be grateful that we are still a restless and striving people; we may disagree bitterly on how to achieve it, but the country still has a dream."

- Carter Eskew, Democratic media consultant

"The enduring things: Our Constitution, our people, our faith, our freedom. In our laws, in our traditions, in our minds, in our hearts, in every way that shapes human reality, this remains a land--and almost the only land--where all men and women are created equal."

- Clark Judge, Republican speechwriter 

"During the height of the Civil War, Lincoln, in calling for a day of Thanksgiving, found much to be thankful for. It shouldn't be that hard for us, now should it? I'm thankful that we still have an American auto industry and financial institutions that are no longer in such grave danger. I'm thankful that we have men and women eager to serve in public office, as the greatest danger to democracy is apathy. I'm thankful to the all-volunteer armed service members, who are proving to be the next greatest generation. That in tough times we still take care of one another. I'm particularly thankful that I know we have the talent, and the ability, and the work ethic to solve the huge problems facing this country."

- Scott Ferson, Democratic consultant

"American democracy still works. All the problems with campaigning notwithstanding, real people at the grass-roots level still make a difference in elections, congressional decision-making, and public policy. Us insiders should thank MoveOn.org and the tea party for showing democracy still works the way it is supposed to."

- Jan van Lohuizen, Republican pollster

"Regardless of economic setbacks, we are still a bountiful nation."

- Gerald W. McEntee (Democrat), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees president

"We should be thankful for our armed forces, law enforcement, and intelligence personnel who have kept us safe from a major terrorist attack for nine years."

- Charlie Black, Republican lobbyist

"I am thankful for the men and women who serve in our military, schools, hospitals, police, and fire departments. Their service is what keeps our country free and strong."

- Keith Mason (Democrat), Atlanta attorney

"For all the challenges, we still have the most open, fair, and representative form of government in the world. We, the people, still have a voice!"

- Saul Anuzis, Michigan Republican National Committee member

"We can give thanks for having a government--along with legal, political, commercial, and social systems--that, while not perfect, is always striving to fulfill the promises of the preamble to our Constitution to 'establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.' That is why, despite everything, even with the partisan bickering, the U.S. remains a beacon of hope and opportunity around the world."

- George Bruno, Manchester attorney and former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman

"The Constitution, which allows for midterm elections to correct arrogant presidents who are overreaching. And, of course, our beloved armed forces and first responders."

- Brett Bader, Republican pollster

"Nancy Pelosi deciding to hang on to power."

- Scott Reed, Republican lobbyist

"We should be thankful we're not Ireland, but we will be soon if we don't do something about the deficit-debt."

- Steve Murphy, Democratic media consultant

"Despite our political differences and economic challenges, we remain a beacon of light to those who still yearn to be free and for all who wish to be prosperous. America remains the greatest nation on the planet."

- David Rehr, Republican consultant

"National health insurance, and hopefully the nation will realize that soon."

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James A. Barnes is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a former political correspondent for National Journal.

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