The table was set – place settings for the extended family and all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, cranberry sauce, my grandmother’s famous stuffing and, thanks to the 2006 midterm elections, the potential for lots of interesting political conversation.
Now, you have to understand my family to appreciate the forthcoming table tension. My mother teaches in the Bronx; if you’ve won the debate on education, you’ve got her vote. My father, on the other hand, tends to side with the Libertarian party and was one of the few constituents to vote for Bush in 2000 based on his economic stance. My sister, a young teenager, knows just about two things concerning politics – Bush is an idiot, and politicians in general are slime balls – and her main contribution to political discussion is “But that’s so mean!” Then there’s me – a dashingly handsome college student from New York and liberal to the bone.
The stage was set for an intense Thanksgiving dinner. To my surprise, we got past the turkey and all the way to the applecake dessert before I even thought of the recent political upheaval.
While the rest of the table mused about what they were thankful for (mostly boring stuff: health, being all together – you know, the usual), my thoughts turned to that astonishing midterm election. But before I could open my mouth to say I was thankful the Democrats won – and risk my father’s wrath – I thought about what the Democrats would do in Congress that the Republicans didn’t.
To my great displeasure, I could think of nothing the Democrats would do. Instead, I only knew what they would not do. For one, we know the Democrats will stop giving more money to big business (and about time, or soon big business would have been giving the government money). For another, they’ll stop sending troops into Iraq, or risk a rejuvenation of the hippie movement.
The Democrats won on a very basic platform – Bush is bad. Now that they are in power, the fact that their party is in no other way unified will reveal itself in an unpleasant manner. In addition to this lack of a real platform, the leadership of the Democrats is worse than faulty.
Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has already proved her ineptitude as a leader of the Democratic Party with her inability to gain support for John Murtha as majority leader. In fact, she is a perfect reflection of the Democratic Party as a whole. Her popularity is also based solely on Bush’s unpopularity.
The Democrats’ notorious party leader, on the other hand, is Howard Dean, known to the world as eccentric, erratic and altogether undependable. With these leaders, the Democrats will give Congress back in almost no time and let slip the little power they have finally grasped.
So, with the present so celebrated and the future so grim, what am I thankful for? That I got to spend quality time with my family, that I’m in good health or that I saw friends whom I hadn’t spoken to in months? No, none of those. I’m thankful that Bush is still president, that when the Democrats show how split their party has become, how incompetent their leaders are and how blank of a platform they truly have, there will still be Bush to make fun of.
Epstein is a member of the class of 2010.