Randi Kreiss

Thanks to the keepers of democracy


Yes! A federal judge ruled that the White House must reinstate the press credential for CNN’s Jim Acosta. Acosta was denied White House press access after he and President Trump got into a heated exchange during a news conference two weeks ago. Take that, the president and his team said, stripping the reporter of his credential. Take that, Federal Judge Timothy J. Kelly said last Friday, restoring the White House press pass.

Although the White House was threatening to reimpose the ban on Acosta on Monday, as we were going to press, Kelly made a momentous decision, holding up freedom of the press in an administration that is increasingly restrictive and hostile toward reporters and newspapers.

For all the years that I’ve been writing this column, giving thanks on Thanksgiving Day has been a personal exercise. My heart has opened to the friends and family who complete the circle of my life, and I have written about the gathering of children and grandchildren.

But this year, the threat to our freedom is so real that I’m reaching beyond giving thanks for my loved ones to giving thanks to my fellow Americans who strive every day to preserve the best of our values and laws.

Yes, I’m grateful this Thanksgiving for the honest and hard-working federal employees who continue to uphold the tenets of our democracy despite daily pushback from an inept president. Staffers and supervisors and judges and investigators and social workers and doctors and administrators at every level of government fight to limit the excesses of an amoral president and his cadre who threaten our way of life.

Thank heaven for the professionals in every department of government who go to work and do their best to do the right thing. They sit in cubicles and corner offices; they fly on Air Force One or ride in government vehicles. They serve in every branch of the military, and some 5,000 of them are sleeping in tents at our border with Mexico, set to defend America from the trumped-up threat of “invading” migrants.

Shame, shame. When Defense Secretary Jim Mattis went to visit those troops, who will be spending Thanksgiving eating Army food, they asked him what, exactly, their mission was. He didn’t have a good answer, because their mission actually was to serve as props in Trump’s pre-election effort to scare people into voting Republican. Mattis said it was good practice for war.

As a community journalist, the day Acosta was banned from the White House, I feared for our free press, from the Bellmore Herald Life to The New York Times, from the Nassau Herald to The Washington Post, from the Oceanside Herald to USA Today, from MSNBC to Fox News to CBS.

No one, not even the president, gets to erase the truth and silence the news. Trump has already done great harm by demonizing reporters and promoting the cynical concept of “fake news.” There are millions of Americans now who don’t trust their eyes and ears but believe a president who has no compunction about spewing provable lies nearly every time he steps up to a microphone.

As one small voice, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work for a newspaper and resist, in the only way I can, the encroaching authoritarianism of an overwhelmed and underperforming administration.

I’m thankful, too, that since the midterm elections, there have been murmurings of conciliation from both sides of the political aisle. Next year, I hope I can say I’m thankful for the wisdom and leadership of our elected representatives. Dreaming is allowed on Thanksgiving, isn’t it?

On a personal note, I’m thankful for a place to gather this Thanksgiving and for the faces that will beam at me from around the holiday table. The loves of my life will come together and eat turkey and laugh at old jokes. The real treasure of our lives shines in the faces of the sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers and children around the Thanksgiving table.

The political and the personal do indeed come together in a wish for peace and prosperity, the greatest gifts we can offer the next generation. The youngest members of my family, and your families and their families, deserve to grow up and grow old and set Thanksgiving tables of their own.

Copyright 2018 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.