More than 256,000 Americans have died from a pandemic. We are in an economic recession that might worsen because one political party refuses to take the advice of the Federal Reserve chair and virtually every respectable economist to pass a stimulus package. The president, enabled by the vast majority of Republicans in Congress, is seeking to overthrow a definitive victory for President-elect Joe Biden.

And yet, we have much to be grateful for as we head into Thanksgiving, even though covid-19 has curtailed the holiday for many families:

  • Through the ingenuity and dedication of scores of scientists and the selflessness of those who volunteered for clinical trials, we have multiple covid-19 vaccine candidates that offer the promise of 90 percent-plus effectiveness.
  • Essential workers, state and local government workers, private organizations and ordinary Americans have all reached out to help one another weather hunger, loneliness, illness and grief.
  • Nearly 80 million Americans voted President Trump out of office, selecting an honorable, qualified and moderate Democratic ticket featuring Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris.
  • Since the election victory, Biden’s conciliatory tone and business-like approach engenders confidence that we are moving forward to an administration that cares about proper governance.
  • Biden’s selection for White House chief of staff, Ronald Klain, was praised by members of both parties. He is a grown-up versed in confronting pandemics.
  • The Biden-Harris transition team released a no-nonsense ethics plan that prohibits transition members, without approval of the team’s general counsel, from trading individual stocks, as well as working on matters in which they advised a foreign government, have a financial conflict or acted as a lobbyists during the last 12 months.
  • A bipartisan group of 10 governors displayed maturity and decency during a virtual meeting with Biden last week and showing interest to find common ground on covid-19 and a stimulus package. Likewise, business and labor leaders who met with Biden sounded a cooperative tone.
  • An (admittedly small) group of Republican congressmen and senators acknowledged Biden’s victory. A larger number insisted the transition move forward.
  • Biden picked former Federal Reserve chairman Janet L. Yellen as his treasury secretary, which would make her the first woman to hold that post and provide comfort to everyone from Democratic progressives to Wall Street CEOs.
  • Biden’s national security team is filled with competent, experienced men and women and reflects the diversity he promised to bring to his administration. (The New York Times notes, “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to name several top national security picks on Tuesday, his transition office said, including the first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security, the first woman to head the intelligence community and a former secretary of state, John Kerry, to be his international climate czar.”) Antony Blinken as secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser will garner confidence among our allies and guide us back to a bipartisan, internationalist and pro-democracy foreign policy. With the belated decision by General Services Administration head Emily Murphy, the transition — and these appointees’ security background checks — can get underway.
  • Despite the antics from Trump and his crackpot lawyers, courts dismissed 34 cases (at last count), in many instances slamming the Trump team for baseless speculation and untenable remedies (i.e., disenfranchising millions of voters). The courts have done their part as guardrails of democracy.
  • Georgia certified the results of the election. On Michigan’s state canvassing board, Republican Aaron Van Langevelde affirmed the obligation to certify Biden’s victory by more than 150,000 votes. Michigan’s board, by a 3 to 0 vote (with one abstention), thereafter certified the results.
  • Hundreds, if not thousands, of state and local employees and volunteers worked tirelessly and efficiently to pull off the most secure election in history — with a record turnout.
  • The potential for a reordering of American politics and the creation of a coalition spanning from the center-right to the progressive portion of the political spectrum has the opportunity to pursue necessary reforms to shore up our democracy.

No one should underestimate the challenges ahead, both foreign and domestic, for the nation’s health and economy. Nor should anyone ignore the obstructionist and bad-faith machinations of Trump and his followers. However, things could be much, much worse, and for that, we should be extraordinarily thankful.

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