Joseph Sabino Mistick: Give thanks for Donald Trump
Like it or not, politics could be the topic of conversation around your Thanksgiving table this week. It seems unavoidable, just as it has been impossible to turn on the morning news without some breathless description of the latest outrageous antics coming out of Washington.
And regardless of your own politics, Donald Trump deserves some recognition as dinner guests take stock of the past year and give thanks.
If you are a Trump supporter who wanted someone to break the system and trample the traditions of American politics and government, you should be thankful, because your guy is delivering. You voted for chaos, and you are getting it, every day.
In addition to seeing someone wreck the place just for the sake of wrecking it, there are some real changes, too. Deregulation is occurring rapidly, just out of sight. A number of conservative judges are being nominated and confirmed, with little fanfare. And the Kochs and the Mercers are getting what they paid for.
These developments are easily missed, eclipsed by the show on the main stage, but they are the real spoils of Trump's victory.
And this is not a one-sided tale. Trump's opponents should thank him, too, as they take their turns at the Thanksgiving table. Trump has awakened them from the doldrums of casual citizenship. They have been reminded that elections have consequences.
In the recent race for governor of Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie enjoyed the open support of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, while Democrat Ralph Northam's coalition included his own supporters and anyone who wanted to vote against Trump.
The more Trump did for Gillespie, and the closer Gillespie got to Trump's message, the harder Northam's supporters worked to get out the vote. Nearly half of Virginia's voters turned out, the highest percentage for a gubernatorial election there in two decades. What was an epic battle going into Election Day became a Democrat rout by the end of the night.
Thanks to Trump's saber-rattling over North Korea, the insanity of maintaining an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons, enough to obliterate the world multiple times, is being re-examined. That has forced us to rethink the cost of being a global power, and whether some of that money would be better spent at home. These are legitimate issues, too long ignored.
And Trump has reminded us to be kinder to each other. A crude man, he would have us believe that respect for each other is nothing more than weak-kneed political correctness. Over time, we might forget our own manners, but we know better.
Here's an image to keep in your head. Early in his campaign, Trump mocked a reporter with a physical disability. It was a purposeful provocation, a standard Trump tactic, though this was especially cruel.
What Trump does not realize, and what we sometimes forget, is that most Americans overcome certain obstacles every day. It may not be Trump's plan, but his behavior reminds us that we are one community, that we need to look out for each other.
So, personal politics aside, we all have good reasons to give thanks.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer (joemistick.com).