For millions of Americans, Thanksgiving is home, food, and family. And for many of us, the inevitable polite conversation with the uncle who has squandered too many hours listening to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
How are you to survive an evening with your Uncle Mortimer?
You know, the uncle who looks vaguely like Dick Cheney. He worships Ronald Reagan, considers "French" an insult, and wants to know where Obama was really born. Neither he nor his wife, Aunt Minerva, ever tips more than ten percent.
Uncle Mort knows you're a "liberal," and he eagerly sits next to you at the Thanksgiving table, armed and ready with the usual conservative tripe. Not surprisingly, he starts with what's hot:
Thanksgiving Day: Gearing up for the Chat with Uncle Mort
Mort: You hear about Sarah Palin's new book?
Mort: She's on the march! Giving Republicans some backbone. Given the mess Obama has made of things, Americans are going to sweep Democrats out in the fall.
Heather: We'll see. Didn't work out for Republicans very well in upstate New York.
Mort: You watch. A Palin-Beck ticket will cast out Obama and his socialist crowd. The turkey.
Heather: Please, Obama's no turkey, he...
Mort: No, no. Pass the turkey. The problem with Barack Hussein Obama is that he's spending us into bankruptcy. And it hasn't worked!
Heather: How long did it take you to get that shop of yours to turn a profit? Two, three years. So Obama inherits the worst economy since the Great Depression, two wars, a broken health care system, an economic hole that took years to dig - and you want miracles in 10 months? In fact, he staved off the crash and the economy is showing some signs of life. More needs to be done.
If it weren't for the Recovery Act, layoffs at your nieces' schools would be twice as bad. In fact, what we need is more federal help - for states, for jobs rebuilding schools and roads. We need more jobs programs, not less. The gravy...
Mort: More spending isn't gravy, America can't afford it.
Heather: No, no, pass the gravy please.
Actually, we need more federal spending now. Unemployment could remain over 10 percent through all of next year unless Congress creates jobs. We need to put young people to work, aid states and localities to prevent layoffs of police and teachers, and expand investments in new energy and infrastructure to boost our economy.
We can afford it. Interest rates aren't soaring. And our debt and deficits will get worse if we don't get the economy going.
Mort: Ha! Your party is already going to create a one-trillion dollar deficit with its plan for a government takeover of all health care.
Heather: It's funny you say that. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care reform legislation will lower the federal deficit by more than $100 billion over the next ten years.
And it's not just about cost. Aunt Mary is terrified about losing her job because she won't get insured with her current ailments.
Well, under the reform, insurance companies no longer can deny people insurance for pre-existing conditions, or cut them off of insurance when they get sick. We've got a stake in this right here around this table.
Heather: I don't think that's on tonight's menu.
Mort: You know what I mean. Like "global warming," or does Al Gore call it "climate change" now? Nothing but an excuse for a giant Pelosi energy tax.
Heather: Come on, you can't believe this stuff. You don't want America to remain dependent on foreign oil, running up foreign debts to buy oil from countries that help finance the terrorists.
You laugh about ice caps melting - but I can tell you farmers care, and now insurance companies are starting to charge higher rates because of the cataclysms to come.
We both want America to succeed. Well, the green industrial revolution will be the engine of growth over the next decades. Obama's saying let's invest in new energy, new technology, new efficiency - both to get us off of our addiction to foreign oil and to help lead this new revolution. That's the way America built its prosperity - and its middle class.
Mort: Yea, but private companies provide jobs, not government. We don't capture new markets with government spending.
Heather: Yes, private companies will profit and expand. But government investment has always been key to our industries.
Think airlines out of World War II. The Internet, which started as a Pentagon program. Computers, and now biotechnology.
If we want to compete in the new energy field, we need public and private leadership to drive this forward. If we don't, our grandchildren will inherit a frightening world. And the countries that work to capture these industries - the Chinese, the Germans - will eat our lunch in the new economy.
Mort: I'll think about lunch later. Look, what we need now is leadership to get us out of this hole. Obama is taking us into a free-fall.
Heather: Leadership? Please. Where is the leadership on the Right? Limbaugh said on Day One he wanted Obama to fail. This while the country was in the midst of an economic crisis and two wars. Conservatives decided from the beginning that they would bet on his failure, and obstruct everything he tried to do - spurning his offers to negotiate. They chose to be the Party of No.
Mort: We conservatives have a plan. Cut spending, cut taxes. Let's get back to small government, free markets. A strong military. Dithering over Afghanistan isn't what made America strong.
Heather: I understand, we'll have to agree to disagree. But remember, we tried that way for eight years, and let's face it, the result was calamity.
The longest and deepest recession and the worst financial crisis since the 1930's. One of the worst foreign policy mistakes in American history - the preemptive war in Iraq.
An unprecedented rejection of fundamental human rights, a culture of sleaze, and Watergate-style abuses of power. Gilded Age economic inequality and a blind rejection of science.
And in the aftermath of one of our nation's worst natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina, there was sheer incompetence and indifference to human suffering.
The free-fall happened, and now we give thanks that the worst is over.
Next fall, Americans will have to decide if they want to go back that way. That's a debate I'll look forward to having.
Mort: Me too. We can agree to disagree. Pass me more of that turkey. I do agree it's particularly good this year.
Heather: Thanks, I knew you'd like it. It's local and organic!
To all of you, whether your dinner companions shine red or blue, we at the Campaign for America's Future wish you a happy Thanksgiving.
Robert L. Borosage, Co-director
Campaign for America's Future