116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
On Thanksgiving a year ago, we hoped that the coronavirus pandemic and its disruption to normal life would be behind us by Thanksgiving 2021. That hasn’t worked out, as the virus’s delta variant continues to spread through Iowa communities, even with the broad availability of safe, effective vaccines.
We hoped civility would overtake rigid partisanship in our political discourse. That didn’t happen either. If anything, the reckless contention of our former president that the 2020 election was somehow stolen and the tacit agreement with those claims by his ardent supporters have deepened our divisions.
We hoped rationality and sensible policymaking would replace erratic governance at all levels. Notwithstanding the recent passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill, our governing institutions remain dysfunctional and out of touch of the real needs of the people.
We hoped for government budgets making significant investments in people and systems helping us survive the darkest moments of the pandemic. Congress has been mired in ideological conflict on both sides of the aisle. In Iowa, the Republican-controlled Legislature acted largely as if the pandemic was no big deal, declining to provide additional funding for public health efforts and mental health services that proved so important to Iowans. Lawmakers passed bills making it harder for schools, local governments and businesses to keep citizens and workplaces safe.
We hoped the state and nation would make tangible progress toward ending racial disparities in criminal justice and elsewhere. In Iowa, lawmakers passed new protections for police and new penalties for protest. They sought to micromanage diversity training and teaching to chill any impulse to teach the country’s unvarnished racial history.
So our hopes in 2020 did not turn into a thank-you list in 2021. A divided nation arrives at Thanksgiving this year still challenged by a pandemic and mired in political divisions.
But we have not lost hope. And still have much to be thankful for this year.
This year we’re thankful for the availability of vaccinations and boosters, which are the best way to avoid serious illness. We’re thankful for all Iowans who stepped up to get shots. We’re still thankful for health care workers fighting the virus and rebutting misinformation about vaccines and safety measures.
We’re grateful for essential workers still on the job and businesses that have fought through the health crisis and its economic consequences to remain open. We’re thankful for schoolteachers and staff who have continued to educate our children amid a health threat and uncertainty spawned by misguided state policies.
We’re still thankful for nonprofits and groups still on the job helping derecho-affected residents. We live in a generous city and region.
Our hopes for next year are much like those we expressed last year: A tamed pandemic, political sanity, investments in our priorities and progress on social justice. Let’s hope next Thanksgiving will be a time for counting surprising successes.
(319) 398-8262; email@example.com