To celebrate Thanksgiving Day in 1985, President Reagan addressed the nation with a message about freedom. "Although, as Americans, we have many things for which to be thankful, none is more important than our liberty. ... While entire nations must endure the yoke of tyranny, we are free to speak our minds, to enjoy an unfettered and vigorous press and to make government abide by the limits we deem just."
Such talk may sound cliched, but it isn't for anyone who understands what it's like to live less freely. Perhaps you were disappointed by the outcome of this year's election; perhaps you even believe that our political system is rotten to its core. But in too many places, violence routinely plagues elections. In many more, elections are never held, violence reigns, people are imprisoned for speaking their minds or for practicing the wrong religion, and ordinary people know well what it's like to run for their lives. Americans enjoy the right to discuss political matters without fear of violence. They exercise their right to elect their representatives without a second thought.
The American system is as solid and stable as any on Earth. Neither this year, nor even in years where the result was much closer, is there any serious election-related violence to speak of. The political opposition immediately accepted the result of this year's race and moved on, as the losing side has for decades in all U.S. elections. Even when there are disputes, they produce a bit of legal wrangling at worst -- never instability, never a coup d'etat, never a succession crisis.
Not everything is right with America, and a great number of things are not as good as they could be. There are great and troubling threats at this moment to economic freedom and even freedom of religion. But it remains a great consolation that these matters will be settled peacefully and that everyone can speak out against injustice .
America's economy, in as rough shape as it is right now, remains without equal. Despite a housing bust, despite persistently high unemployment and the stubborn efforts of politicians to rig the system in favor of their allies, the economy remains a potent and productive force that is widely diversified. It provides even the poor with a much better life than most of the people in the world.
America's known natural resources are abundant, more so than anyone knew just a few years ago. The recent projection by the International Energy Agency that America will be producing more oil than Saudi Arabia by the end of the decade is a very pleasant surprise. It signals a new era of jobs and wealth that even our politicians might not be able to bungle.
But there is a blessing far greater that our economy and our robust political life SEmD the one that Americans share with the entire world. This Thanksgiving, enjoy the people in your life. Cherish their love and friendship. They are much more valuable than any election victory or economic rally.