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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.

Unemployment, foreclosures, lunatic elected officials and catastrophic climate change got you down this holiday season? Don't worry, there's ample reason for progressives to give thanks. Here's a few, and I'm sure you can come up with many, many more to add to this list.

1. Rachel Maddow Exists

Every time I have to read, yet again, about the idiotic rantings of right-wing "news" hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, I remind myself how lucky I am that when I turn on the TV at night I get to watch Rachel Maddow. She's ridiculously smart, her commentary is pertinent, she actually interviews people instead of yelling at them, she's ridiculously smart (did I say that already?), she's anti-establishment in the cable news world (aka a PhD-wielding butch lesbian), and she has a sense of humor. I am as impressed with her coverage of the Gulf oil spill (including doing a "Tar Ball Shot" with Gulf locals at a neighborhood bar) as I am by her economic and political coverage. The segment she did a little while back where she tracks all the Republicans who voted against stimulus (and were outspoken about it to boot) and then went home to their districts and took credit for all the great projects the stimulus money helped create was absolutely priceless. Thank you, Rachel. In addition, we should also give thanks for folks like Bill Maher, Amy Goodman and Laura Flanders: Our people are sane and smart.

2. Marijuana Bests Republicans

The defeat of marijuana legalization in California during the midterm election was definitely a disappointment, but one bright side to the election numbers was the proof that Californians at least prefer pot to Republicans. Also in the losing camp were GOP candidates Meg Whitman for governor and Carly Fiorina for Senate -- both the candidates received less votes than the marijuana legalization campaign. Marijuana turned out 4,504,771 supporters while Whitman garnered only 4,027,661 and Fiorina 4,150,907. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

3. Pittsburgh Gives the Finger to Corporate Control

Last week Pittsburgh's City Council took the historic step of banning a controversial practice used by natural gas companies called hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Pittsburgh, as well as much of the rest of Pennsylvania and New York state, sits atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale that has been targeted for drilling, resulting in threats to surface and groundwater, among other concerns.

But the city didn't just ban fracking; it went another important step further and voted to legally protect the rights of nature and ban corporate personhood. The ordinance sponsor, Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields, told Yes! Magazine that, "It's about our authority as a community to decide, not corporations deciding for us." Yes! authors Mari Margil and Ben Price explain that the ordinance, "elevates the rights of people, the community, and nature over corporate 'rights' and challenges the authority of the state to pre-empt community decision-making."

At a time when corporations are seizing more and more power, this act of defiance by a sizable city is massive. "Communities, like Pittsburgh, are coming to the shared conclusion that it's up to them to stop practices they disagree with. Their efforts are not just about stopping the drilling, but about who gets to make decisions for the community--corporations empowered by the state, or people and their communities," wrote Margil and Price.

4. Health Care, Duh

Maybe the health care bill that passed wasn't everything we were hoping it would be, but it was a really big deal and also really good for a whole lot of Americans. Nick Baumann has a nice wrap-up of 10 things that health care reform gave us, but here's a few of my favorites: 1) There are no more coverage limits, so you can't "run out" of coverage from your cheap-ass provider, nor can they drop you when you get sick; 2) goodbye pre-existing condition exclusion for kids; 3) big tax breaks for small businesses that insure workers; and 4) help for seniors on drug coverage; and the list goes on. If right-wingers want to try and revoke this giant leap forward they better be ready for a major fight.