Grateful at Thanksgiving

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What, you may well ask, can a Democrat find to be thankful for amid the sea of red that swept the country on Election Day?

Actually, I’m finding plenty of gratitude to go around the great table of American politics.

Locally, I’m grateful for the voters of every persuasion who sensibly voted down Measure Y. While the existing city council still doesn’t seem to get it, 69.5 percent of voters said NO to increased development and traffic congestion.

Stay tuned to see what the new council does with this issue.

So I’m grateful to the residents who fought to defeat Measure Y, like Dorothy Kraus, Jean Watt and Dennis Baker.

The other day, Baker and I spent a couple of hours rambling around the wetlands that comprise a few of the parcels of Orange Coast River Park, which will do much to enhance the Santa Ana River bed.

Support for the park comes from individuals across the political spectrum and various public and private entities – proof that it’s possible to work together for the common good. I’m thankful for that and for people like Baker who spend their time and talents advocating for our unique local environment.

I’m grateful for all people who run for public office – hey, it’s the only system we have – but especially for people like Suzanne Savary, who ran against high odds to call Dana Rohrabacher accountable for his lack-luster performance in Congress over the last 26 years.

Savary didn’t win, but she ran an admirable campaign, and it’s my hope that we’ll see her on the ballot again come 2016.

I recall Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” and Jay Leno of “The Tonight Show,” who expressed their gratitude to the George W. Bush administration for providing them with such marvelous material. I feel the same way towards the 2014 crop of Republicans.

You don’t have to look far: Councilman-elect Scott Peotter immediately waded into Bunny-gate by telling the Daily Pilot that “the white rabbit sculptures in Civic Center Park must go…I haven’t met anyone yet that likes the bunnies.”

(He sees the rabbits as emblematic of the former Council’s spending habits; the rabbits cost $220,000.)

Local kids of all ages responded.

Nancy Pedersen: “I’m more concerned about having a future city council person obsessed with the children’s bunnies than I am with the bunnies themselves.”

Barbara Shelton: “The bunnies must stay. They make me smile. I glance at them and grin every time I drive past the Newport Beach Civic Center and park. The City Council deserves thanks for giving all ages the pleasure to still react like children.”

Advice to Peotter: Definitely avoid ticking off the kids-of-all-ages caucus – it’s a powerful constituency.

I’m also grateful for last Sunday’s sermon at St. Mark Presbyterian Church by Brian Ellison, Executive Director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which advocates for the full inclusion of LGBTs into the denomination.

Ellison reminded us that there’s a risk in continuing such advocacy, but there is also a risk in doing nothing in the interest of our own comfortable complacency. I appreciate the gays in our midst who have demonstrated the courage to live authentically.

Speaking of gays, I’m grateful for writers like David Sedaris, who wrote with humor about his life as a gay man when there wasn’t much to laugh about.

Sedaris’s literary reputation soared after NPR broadcast his “Santaland Diaries” in 1992. This fictionalized piece about his job as Crumpet the Elf at Macy’s in Manhattan has become a classic, broadcast on NPR each December.

Should you wonder at shoppers who camp out days in advance of Black Friday, at department stores that open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and fistfights and worse in toy stores, visit and search for “Santaland” to hear David Sedaris reading from “Santaland Diaries.”

His satire of the insane ways that we Americans celebrate a sacred holiday says it all. Listen, laugh and/or weep.

Jean Ardell is the president of the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club. She can be reached at [email protected].



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