Kurt Vetters: At Thanksgiving, share a little love


Thanksgiving approaches, and a divided America is about to sit down at the dinner table and try to survive. How we come through these holidays, with generational, philosophical and cultural divides, may define our next decades.

To start, President Trump will not be impeached. The Democrats will vote for it in the House, and the Republicans in the Senate will not. No surprise. Trump will be our president for the remainder of his term. That’s it. He’s our elected leader.

He will, however, understand that not every action he generates will have no consequences. He cannot just grab the private parts of any country, organization or individual at will without being dragged through the mud.

But we also must understand that the voters elected a deal-maker, and many deals get messy, and not all can withstand the scrutiny of hindsight and the light of day.

My hope is that at the dinner table we can say to each other: OK, it all smells, but we have a system that allows for measured steps before the nuclear option, and let’s agree to disagree, and drive onward with the American experiment.

Next let’s agree that “socialism” and “corporate greed” are non-starters in conversations. At its base, socialism in the American system is present, and many times works very well. Our financial safety net works because collectively we pool resources to take care of those that can’t. Do people and programs slip through that are less than ideal? Sure. But collectively, we do many great things together: Roads and infrastructure, keeping our air and water clean, taking care of our elderly and infirm. These items all have socialistic tendencies that work in America.

They are made better by capitalism and the profit incentive. Our collective road-building works better and faster when coupled with incentives for quick and quality completion. Our retirement system wields the power of private investment through our 401k system. We have an amazing health-care system, still the envy of the world, because we have the profit incentive worked into its fabric.

Very little we do is either monolithically capitalist or socialist. Again, the American experiment is always working to find the balance.

Generationally, the giant wave of the baby boom is beginning to see that they must share the limelight and decision-making with Generations X and Z and Millennials. These subsequent generations were trained by the baby boomers. I hope everyone stops complaining about each other and realizes that they both bring good and bad ideas to the table. Yes, we may have more and more gender-neutral bathrooms, but you can email from your smartphone your grocery list to the store and then go pick it up. I hope at the table, families may have a discussion on what each generation brought to the other. As an example, boomers ushered in and maintained an economy that is robust and in which pretty much anyone who wants to work has a job.

We have so much to be thankful for as a nation this year. Our economy is robust, smoking is down, and we continue to be the land of opportunity that people clamor to enter. We have potential adversaries on the horizon, but as of 2019 we are still the dominant world power. We have an election system that still functions, and no matter how evil everyone feels the other side is, I guarantee you that each person you meet is proud to be an American and wants the best, as they see fit, for our country and our people.

We all want the same things, and it’s OK to love each other. We are all crazy uncles and aunts to someone. Embrace it this season and let love shine through. That’s why we celebrate Thanksgiving in this messy crazy country of the United States of America.

Kurt Vetters, a longtime resident of Greenfield, is a U.S. Army veteran, author and local businessman. He can be reached at [email protected]. Send comments to [email protected].