by Todd Beeton, Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:40:06 PM EST
Three years ago this week I traveled up north for Thanksgiving dinner at my conservative Uncle's house outside Sacramento. As I knew my brother and I would be the only non-Republicans in attendance, I'd resigned myself to a politics-free Thanksgiving. It was one thing to rile up my Dad by bashing Bush around my parents' dinner table, quite another to do the same where I am an infrequent guest and where I know just a few people. What I didn't anticipate was just how much passionate criticism of Bush and the Republican congress there would be even without my or my brother's input. The Republicans at dinner that night were in utter revolt, over spending mostly, and it was the first time I had a sense that things were shifting in the country.
This year was quite different as I spent Thanksgiving at a friend's house with mostly youngish creative types who were varying degrees of liberal, but that's not to say there wasn't some heated conversation. I spoke to one guy who, knowing that I'm a "liberal blogger," challenged me to name one Republican I've ever voted for (I named two) and insisted that his support of Bob Barr this year even though he knew he couldn't win was somehow more virtuous than my support of Barack Obama since I'm just a partisan hack, so his argument went. He also railed against single party rule and insisted that Obama work across the aisle as he has promised to do (this is why he liked John McCain until he imploded.) There was so much wrong with this logic I didn't know where to start. I replied that certainly bi-partisanship would be great but not for its own sake. I asked him to think about what's gotten done during two years of divided government versus 6 years of single party government -- far more got done in those first six years; the fact that it was mostly bad is beside the point. Single party Democratic rule is the only way we're going to actually advance a mainstream agenda, which the American people have voted for 2 cycles in a row: ending the war in Iraq, funding stem cell research, increasing access and affordability to health care, curbing carbon emissions to rollback the effects of global warming, closing Guantanamo Bay and restoring our reputation abroad (and certainly the list goes on...) As much as it pains many to admit, these things that the progressive movement has been fighting for for years are now mainstream values and if Republicans are going to continue to obstruct it, the last thing Americans want is bi-partisanship. When the American people so thoroughly reject one party as they have for two cycles in a row, that is a sign that Republicans should be marginalized, not coddled and they should certainly not be allowed to hold the American agenda hostage.
I didn't say all of this, although I sort of wish I had, but it's just an example of the sort of holiday dinner table conversation I had this year. What were the hot topics around your Thanksgiving dinner table this year? Did you talk politics? Were you surprised by what you heard and can you draw any conclusions from it?