Nevertheless, there has been plenty to be grateful for on the democracy front in the past year. President Biden did take office with past presidents and members of both parties in attendance. He proceeded to nominate qualified, ethical officials to executive branch positions and restored a sense of competence and professionalism absent for four years.
A Democratic House passed a slew of bills, including H.R. 1′s package of voting, ethics and campaign finance reforms. It also punished egregious behavior by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.). Overall, it showed how a functional legislative body with responsible leadership operates.
We can also be grateful for the methodical and professional work of the House select committee on the Jan. 6 insurrection. The committee’s determination to follow the facts and enforce subpoenas reestablishes respect for truth and the rule of law. Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) deserve special thanks for placing country above party and providing a model of public service.
In the Senate, we can be grateful for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the sole Republican to vote for cloture in voting rights reform, a supporter of bipartisan infrastructure legislation and a consistent advocate for reproductive rights. Same goes for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who has worked assiduously to reached agreement among all Democrats on voting rights reform.
We can give thanks as well for the new attorney general and reinvigorated Justice Department, which is prosecuting Jan. 6 insurrectionists, suing to enforce voting rights in Georgia and Texas, defending abortion rights in Texas and resuming enforcement of police consent decrees.
We can be thankful the jury reached a fair and just verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd and for the fine prosecutorial work in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers. Thanks also goes to a fleet of former prosecutors and legal experts who contributed to TV coverage, wrote op-eds and produced podcasts to help educate the public about our Constitution and legal system.
We can deeply appreciate the judges who have punished former Trump attorneys for filing frivolous lawsuits that sought to undermine the integrity of the 2020 election. And we can be grateful for the nomination and swift confirmation of diverse and well-qualified judges to the federal bench.
We can salute New Yorkers, who forced an abusive governor out of office, and California voters, who rejected a recall of their governor, striking a blow against the tyranny of the minority. We can give thanks for Democratic governors and a few Republican ones (Larry Hogan in Maryland, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Chris Sununu in New Hampshire) who upheld their oaths, resisted mob intimidation and acted to protect their residents from the pandemic. We are in the debt of conscientious local officials, including public health and school administers, who have faced threats, boorish behavior and even legal intimidation from destructive Republican governors.
We can be thankful for groups such as Protect Democracy, the Center for Election Innovation and Research, the Campaign Legal Center, the Brennan Center for Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — all of which work tirelessly to promote voting reform, the rule of law and the preservation of democratic institutions.
We should all give thanks for U.S. military and civilian personnel around the world who endure personal hardships and, in many cases, undertake dangerous missions to preserve our freedom and defend American interests.
And on a personal note, I am immensely grateful for my readers, who continue to evince faith in democracy and righteous indignation over illiberal, authoritarian actors. I hope you all have a joyous and safe Thanksgiving. I will be back on Sunday.