No matter how you happen to feel about President Trump’s policies and pronouncements, even his most avid supporters concede his scathing tweets and unguarded condemnations have aggravated the national dialogue. While one might hope or expect a U.S. president to rally constituents on at least some issues — if only for the sake of his legacy — the Age of Trump has instead left Americans more polarized. We all seem meaner, angrier, less tolerant of one another.
And this can leave some of us mighty conflicted about Thanksgiving 2017.
We can just imagine the scene over a lovingly prepared Thanksgiving feast: Someone mentions Trump’s being a sociopath with dictatorial tendencies. Someone else mentions how Hillary Clinton ought to be locked up. Someone mentions Niger. Someone mentions Benghazi. Someone mentions Al Franken, comedic sex pervert. Someone mentions Roy Moore, biblical child molester. Before you know it, police have been called over hill and dale, Christmas plans are shelved and Grandma and Grandpa are writing certain people out of the will. Nobody is left particularly thankful.
A few words of advice about holiday gatherings: With the time-honored authority of host, the wise head of every household should declare specific time periods during which politics can and cannot be discussed. This ensures time is spent on such subjects as Jeremy’s missionary trip to Zimbabwe or Uncle Jim’s colonoscopy, things more worthy of the family circle. Someone should declare off limits anything read on Facebook or heard on talk radio. Family members can exaggerate first-hand experiences — not those gathered through hearsay and the evil political motivation to mislead.
Thanksgiving usually falls close to the anniversary of President Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address. As important as any founding document, it reminds us that America’s greatness is rooted in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln said our nation was “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Common foot soldiers reminded Lincoln of this time and again before he wrote this. They said their sacrifices in the Civil War were not just to piece the union back together as it had been but to reassemble it to stress something more than even the Founders could manage — to ensure we really did pursue and champion equality for all.
This means each of us has a right to raise the roof about what’s best for our country and one another. That’s what this page of the newspaper is all about. It’s for everyday folks to sound off as strongly as pundits and politicians do on issues close to the heart. And as much as we might dislike opinions of others, let’s remember that if they lose the right to speak out, we in time will also. Let’s remember that speaking out, in civil fashion, wonderfully reaffirms certain blessings for which we should all be thankful, blessings that go beyond flags, anthems and monuments and underline principles, declarations and cherished rights. To honor such liberties, it would help if we listened to others a little more before speaking up. The holiday family gathering seems like a perfect place in which to practice this.