It's been said that gratitude is a tricky business. And in this year's dicey political landscape, that may be truer than ever.
But don't count America out.
Most of us think family is far more important than politics, and on Thursday we will laugh and talk and hug with our friends and family. In fact, most of us will use the holiday as a respite from what 59% of us tell pollsters we see as a country "on the wrong track." Another 69% of Americans in October told Monmouth University they view as our country divided over "our most important values."
Here are some numbers we believe are more optimistic — numbers that show us better together.
* We can be grateful that a Gallup poll released the week of July 4 found that 70% of U.S. adults overall said they are proud to be Americans. The sobering number is that this includes fewer than half (45%) who are "extremely" proud, making this the second consecutive year that this reading fell below the majority level, according to Gallup.
* Overall, 62% of Americans told PRRI surveyors that the country's diverse population — with people of many different races, ethnicities, religions and backgrounds — makes the country stronger. The poll, released in February, also revealed that only 13% said the nation's diverse population makes the country weaker. Another 23% said makes the country neither stronger nor weaker.
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* That same poll, asking about traits tied to being "truly American," found that 91% of Americans believe in individual freedoms, such as freedom of speech; 90% respect American political institutions and laws; 86% say accepting people of diverse racial and religious backgrounds is an important and truly American trait, and 83% value being able to speak English.
* But the PRRI survey also exposed our divisions. A majority (56%) of Americans agree that believing capitalism is the best economic system is somewhat or very important for being truly American, while 38% say this is not too important or not at all important. A slim majority (52%) value believing in God, but only 39% say being a Christian is somewhat or very important. Most of us, (56%) say being Christian is not too important or not at all important.
* Half of Americans say that being born in America is somewhat or very important for being truly American, while 46% say otherwise.
This brings us to what deeply divides us — race, religion and politics.
* The vast majority (83%) of Americans agree that the country is somewhat or very divided by race and ethnicity.
* We are nearly unanimous (91%) in our belief that the country is divided over politics.
* And about three-quarters of us agree that we are divided over religion.
But here's the silver lining. Most Americans are optimistic about the country's ability to unite.
* Two-thirds (66%) feel optimistic that people who belong to different racial and ethnic groups can still come together and solve the country's problems. Only 30% say they feel pessimistic that Americans can do this now.
* Similarly, two-thirds (66%) of Americans are confident different religious groups can work together to solve the country's problems. Only 30% say they feel pessimistic.
* But we are substantially more pessimistic about our country's ability to heal its political divisions: Only 38% feel optimistic that this can still happen, while six in 10 doubt it.
* Speaking of politics, and a more timely assessment, a FiveThirtyEight compilation Tuesday of all polls found that 49% of Americans support impeaching President Trump, while 43.5% do not.
Clearly, all of these numbers mean we all have work to do — perhaps beginning Thursday by paying attention to how the spirit of Thanksgiving makes it possible for us to come together and unite in our homes — even though we are not all of the same mind on culture and politics. Perhaps we can use what we see among those closest to us to examine how we might scale up our better-together efforts out in the community and country.
Judging by most answers in these poll findings, so much more unites us than divides us.
Let's act like it.
Pass the dressing.