From the Editorial Board on Thanksgiving Day 2018:
Be thankful for the nation’s prolonged economic expansion, now past nine years’ duration, and for Minnesota’s 11th-highest median household income among the 50 states in 2017. Be mindful of the large racial and regional disparities in Minnesotans’ well-being that such income statistics don’t capture, and that threaten Minnesota’s future success.
Be thankful for Minnesotans’ strong commitment to democratic self-rule, seen in this state’s nation-leading 64.3 percent turnout in the Nov. 6 election. Be mindful that democracy is slipping away in many other nations and faces challenges in this one. History teaches that democracies are fragile and require vigilance to sustain.
Be thankful for the civic spirit exhibited by young people in Minnesota and around the nation throughout this election year, leading to early reports of a significant increase in turnout among voters aged 18 through 29. Be mindful that many young activists were motivated by gun violence in schools. As of last week, the nation had witnessed at least 80 such episodes this year, including the 17 killed in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.
Be thankful for the continuing willingness of Americans to stand for election to public office at a time when political leadership can carry a high price. Be mindful that 55 years ago today, the nation lost a president who called on Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
Be thankful for the political newcomers who fought for Minnesotans’ support this past election. Be mindful that defeat stings. For those who lost at the polls, we are grateful you joined the race and invigorated the debate. You made your life harder by running for office, but our state a better place.
Be thankful for programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which provide a critical safety net to elderly and vulnerable Americans. Be mindful that strengthening public investment in children is vital to the nation’s future.
Be thankful for the state’s agricultural bounty and the hardworking farmers who make it possible. Be mindful of the responsibility to safeguard the state’s natural resources as the soil is tilled. Agricultural runoff threatens Minnesota water quality, and innovation and heightened stewardship are needed.
Be thankful for the long-term and ongoing decline in crime rates across America, strong enough in these divided times to inspire bipartisan support, including that of President Donald Trump, for a major criminal justice reform bill. Be mindful that violence still plagues many neighborhoods and communities, and combating it still requires vigilance, creativity and resources.
Be thankful for the first responders who risk their lives to save others when gun violence strikes. Be mindful that lawmakers can still take steps to make America safer.
Be thankful for the heroism of firefighters in California, rescue and relief workers wherever disaster strikes, and everyday Americans who help each other in times of need. Be mindful that private relief agencies need your help to continue their critical work.
Be thankful for the diligence of all who labor on this and other holidays, be they police and firefighters, doctors and nurses, prison guards and power plant workers and many more — even retail staff and journalists. Be mindful that even in prosperous times, some are out of work or disabled.
Be thankful for the First Amendment and the transformative technologies that allow for instant information. Be mindful of rising press repression worldwide — including in America — and how some use the new media technologies to sow disinformation and division.
Be thankful for those who wear our nation’s uniform and the sacrifices they and their families make to preserve our freedoms. Be mindful that deployments to war zones like Afghanistan show no sign of ending soon, and our forces and their families need continued support from every sector of society.
Be thankful that this great nation has been made stronger by the diversity of its people and all they have brought across the generations. Be mindful that this process is still unfolding, and new groups bring new gifts that should be celebrated. Strive to understand and appreciate the differences.
Be thankful if you have a home in which to celebrate the holidays and food to share. Be mindful that others do not. Be generous this season with those in need.
Be thankful for the thousands of voters who cast ballots to raise their own taxes to educate Minnesota children. Be mindful that those resources must be used well to improve student achievement.
Be thankful for Minnesota’s wealth of philanthropists, including recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Alan Page, whose educational foundation has given scholarships to 7,000 students of color over 30 years. Be mindful that there is always more to do to help others, build community and make the world a better place.
The Editorial Board is thankful for the Star Tribune’s loyal readers and advertisers. We are mindful that providing editorial leadership and thoughtful commentary that includes a wide range of viewpoints is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.