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8 Things Progressives Can Be Thankful For

Chin up, after all we've got Rachel Maddow, health care, Pittsburgh's f-you to corporate control, and a whole lot more to be thankful for.

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5. The Green Economy Comes Alive

While marijuana legislation didn't pass in California, there was some good green news of another sort -- the defeat of Texas oil giants and right-wing billionaires with the trouncing of Proposition 23, which would have suspended California's clean energy and global warming legislation.

The beauty in this defeat is that people are finally waking up to what folks like Van Jones have been saying for years about the potential of a green economy. As I wrote before the election, unemployment in California is over 12 percent and the state has lost 34 percent of its manufacturing jobs in the last decade. But there is one part of the economy that's actually growing: between 1995-2008, the number of clean energy businesses has risen by 45 percent and the number of clean energy jobs has increased by 36 percent -- more than 10 times the average job growth in California. There are over 12,000 clean tech companies in California and 500,000 people work in the industry.

While GOPers are busy trying to kill high speed rail projects, smarter people are putting two and two together and realizing that what's good for the environment can also be good for business.

6. Grassroots Victories Driving Progressive Change

One of the things I'm most thankful for is a reminder that there is lots of amazing work going on out there to fight for progressive change -- and believe it or not, we're winning a whole bunch. I get regaled at the dinner table with stories of success from my partner who works for Change.org -- an organization that has created a social change platform driving a lot of terrific campaigns, much of them important work at the grassroots level. Here's a few examples.

Clint McCance, a school board member with the Midland School Board in Arkansas, made some of the most hateful statements I've ever seen. In response to a purple ribbon day that was created to memorialize queer students who have been victims of bullying or suicide, McCance posted to his Facebook page: "Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way I'm wearin' it for them is if they all commit suicide ... Being a fag doesn't give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then don't tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself ... It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die." Yeah, that's a school board member -- or he was. Through Change.org over 14,000 people sent letters asking for his resignation, which he gave.

In efforts to prevent human trafficking, Change.org, working with leading child protection organization ECPAT, got an agreement from Choice Hotels to help prevent trafficking. Amanda Kloer writes that Choice Hotels, parent company to Comfort Inn, "will take proactive action to prevent child prostitution in their hotels." This comes "shortly after 5-year-old Shaniya Davis was sold into prostitution and taken to a Comfort Inn in North Carolina."

And the list of victories goes on. The best part is that anyone can take part in Change.org's site -- if there's something wrong in your school, your community, your state -- you can help fix it.

7. It Gets Better and Then Some

Despite losers like Clint McCance, after a spate of teen suicides resulting from anti-gay bullying this fall, the national response was largely heartwarming. For those of us who know that queer youth are four times more likely to take their own lives than heterosexual youth, the suicides weren't shocking, but they were public, and opened the eyes of a whole lot of people. For starters, it prompted this evangelic bishop to come clean to his congregation and encouraged a useful conversation among the members of his church who stuck around long enough for him to explain both his faith and his sexuality.