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."
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- 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."
- Rick Weiner, former Michigan Democratic Party chairman
"In my opinion, this is an easy one: The country should be thankful for all our men and women in the armed forces protecting the United States of America and who have kept us safe since 9/11."
- Michael P. Dennehy, Republican consultant
"That the tea party didn't take over the Senate."
- Dick Harpootlian, attorney and former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman
"The country can be thankful for a newly elected Republican House that will fight to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C."
- Lisa Camooso Miller, Republican operative
"Right now, the country should be thankful for many things. Here are two: First, we live in a democracy that is the envy of the world. So magnificent is our form of government that we just had a fair election resulting in the House of Representatives changing hands, yet not one life was lost. Our elected officials will figure out a way to work together. Secondly, we know that unemployment and the deficit are huge challenges; however, because we live in America, we can be certain that we have the opportunity to make things better and we will."
- Bob Maloney, Democratic lobbyist
"That the American people have sent our elected officials notice that we cherish our freedom!"
- Van Poole, Republican lobbyist
"Our nation should be thankful for having the finest military the world has ever known, whose men and women faithfully defend our freedoms daily, regardless of politics or ideology, reminding us of what truly matters. They all deserve our thanks and prayers."
- Jim Merrill, Republican lobbyist
"We should be thankful that we have not had another terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11."
- Mindy Fletcher, Republican operative
"Americans should feel blessed and be thankful for living in a country where more people enjoy more freedom, more liberty, and more opportunity than any other group of people who has ever resided on earth."
- Bill Greener, Republican consultant
"The nation should be thankful for a younger generation that I believe is more engaged than we realize. This younger generation is more optimistic, freer of old racial and ethnic baggage, and more committed to a 21st-century-updated American dream than the older, resentful, woeful voices that dominate the airwaves."
- Jeffrey Trammel, Democratic lobbyist
"In this country, everybody who works on losing campaigns gets to go home and sleep in safety, then wake up the next day and continue speaking out. In many other places around the world, if you oppose the powers that be, they come for your kids. We should all thank God we're Americans and we live under our Constitution and political culture."
- David Kensinger, Republican consultant
"Americans should be thankful that our nation's founders created a governance system that provides for the peaceful transfer of power. After any given election, a significant number of citizens are unhappy with election results; nonetheless, as a society, we do accept the results and move forward peacefully. Our system of checks and balances has worked admirably for us for more than two centuries, for which I am most thankful."
- Bonnie Campbell, Des Moines attorney and former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman
"We should be thankful for the enduring wisdom of the Founders. They created a system that makes 'fundamental transformation' extremely difficult to impose, and also requires frequent elections in case it is nonetheless attempted."
- Tim Morrison, Republican lobbyist
"That political speech became much freer in 2010, and was a factor in making our elections more competitive."
- David Keating (Republican), Club for Growth executive director
"On this Thanksgiving, our country should be thankful that the tens of millions of the American people who are hurting, unemployed, and uncertain about their future, have been very patient and tolerant with a government that increasingly is beholden to and provides for the moneyed interests while it ignores the interests of most Americans."
- Steve Jarding, Democratic consultant
"The election results, a significant step toward halting the policy madness of the past two years."
- Dirk van Dongen, Republican lobbyist and National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors president
"With all the daily grind of who did what to whom or who will do what to whom or who wants to do what to whom, we need to stop and realize we are the greatest force for good on the earth and we need to appreciate that the world still looks to the good old U.S.A. to lead!"
- Ken Duberstein, Republican lobbyist and former White House chief of staff
"Our country should be grateful to a precious few members of Congress still capable of statesmanship in working across the aisle: Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., come to mind."
- Jerry Crawford, Des Moines attorney and Democratic fundraiser
"That there will soon be a Republican majority in the House."
- Adam Geller, Republican pollster
"We should be thankful our democratic republic form of government, despite all of the partisanship and vitriol, continues to work and thrive. We are, after all, still the greatest government in the world."
- James Williams, Democratic lobbyist
"We should be grateful and not take for granted that our country can radically redistribute power from one political party to another without firing a shot, even though the emotion of the moment might suggest otherwise."
- Pat Griffin, Democratic strategist
"We should be thankful for a political system that allows for radical-but-peaceful changes in course and for our unique ability to pick ourselves up off the mat and get to work."
- Bruce A. Gates, Republican lobbyist
"Two things: that the country hasn't been attacked since 9/11; and secondly, need to be thankful that somewhere out in a foreign land, some 19-year-old kid is tired, cold, and eating dehydrated peaches at the bottom of a hole, cradling an M-16 so we can eat hot turkey and watch football."
- Republican consultant Chris LaCivita
"The First Amendment: As Steppenwolf's John Kay sang in 'For Ladies Only': They've got a right to say it wrong if freedom's to survive." If we can't beat Sarah Palin and Roger Ailes on their own terms, what good is freedom anyway? Give me a country where you can build a mosque, a temple, and a church in the same city square and I'll show you a place that can survive through the ages."
- Larry Rasky, Democratic lobbyist
"We should be thankful that we'll soon have another transfer of power the American way: peacefully, democratically, constitutionally."
- Fred Wszolek, Republican consultant
"Especially in election years like this, Americans should be thankful for the wisdom of our Founders who created a resilient and self-renewing political system that's the envy of the world."
- Jim Cicconi, Republican lobbyist