*No matter who you voted for.
Regardless of whom you supported in the U.S. presidential election, there are reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving week. A lot of people may not feel that way (given that more than half of all voters voted against each candidate—neither won 50% or more of the popular vote), but it really is true. Here are three reasons for profound gratitude, whatever your political leanings.
Every four years, we in the U.S. have the opportunity to choose our leaders by voting. Those who were hoping to see the first woman sworn in as the next president may try to argue the Electoral College system is undemocratic, given that Hillary Clinton won slightly more of the popular vote (48% to Donald Trump’s 47%), but what’s most important is—we get to choose our leaders through the ballot box.
If you were privileged with the right to vote in the most recent presidential election, it means you don’t live in a country like Syria where even a long, bloody civil war hasn’t removed their tyrant from power. Or a pseudo-democracy like Venezuela where the leader can declare opposition victories illegitimate. Or democracies-in-name-only like Iran where one can vote, but power ultimately resides with an unelected elite. Or worst of all, a place like North Korea where a familial dynasty gives no voice to the people at all.
Even those now protesting the election of Donald Trump have reason to be thankful. They have the right to peacefully protest here, and make their voices heard–unlike in regimes where protesters are imprisoned, shot, “disappeared,” or where opponents of the government have effectively no voice at all.
We are blessed.
#2. We remain an open, tolerant, diverse nation.
Yes, Donald Trump made statements at various times during his campaign that offended Muslims, Hispanics, women, and the disabled. And it’s true that some retrograde racists seem emboldened by his victory, with hate crimes up 6% since the election.
In any case, the vast majority of those who voted for Trump did so in spite of those comments, not because of them. Most Trump supporters voted for him because they felt the ruling class, of both parties, was ignoring their concerns (similar to most Bernie Sanders supporters). They wanted an outsider in the oval office. Possibly no one nailed this sentiment more accurately than Peggy Noonan—nine months before the election.
Rightly or not, Hillary Clinton was viewed as part of that ruling class. And so, when the first Tuesday in November came this year, many traditional Democratic voters either voted for Trump, cast their ballot for a third-party candidate, or just stayed home.
Trump’s election does not mean we’ve become a racist, sexist, xenophobic nation. With the exception of a few small groups of noisy haters, most of us still respect each other’s differences and want to get along. The social and civil rights changes of the past 60 years are not going to overturned. That’s not what the vast majority want. They just want to be HEARD.
#3. We elect a president—not a dictator.
Trump suggested, at various times during the campaign, that he might ban Muslims from entering the U.S. (though he later backtracked on that), order U.S. military personnel to kill the families of terrorists, and impose large tariffs on imported goods. And lots of other things.
But we don’t elect dictators, we elect presidents. We are (still) governed by three branches of government, with a system of checks and balances, as well as the rule of law. No president can spend a dime or pass a single law without congressional action, or issue an illegal order to military personnel.
With Trump in the White House and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, it’s likely we will see a more conservative agenda enacted over the next two to four years. You may like that, you may not. But we will not see anything either radical or contradictory to the founding principles of our nation.
So, be thankful this Thanksgiving week. Whether you got the president you voted for or not, we are fortunate to live within a system of governance that protects us all from the worst possible excesses of any chief executive’s desires. Be thankful for our voices.