First of all, from Maya Angelou's book Letter to My Daughter:
For the past four decades, our national spirit and natural joy have ebbed. Our national expectations have diminished. Our hope for the future has waned to such a degree that we risk sneers and snorts of derision when we confess that we are hoping for bright tomorrows.
How have we come so late and lonely to this place? When did we relinquish our desire for a high moral ground to those who clutter our national landscape with vulgar accusations and gross speculations?
Are we not the same people who have fought a war in Europe to eradicate an Aryan threat to murder an entire race? Have we not worked, prayed, planned to create a better world? Are we not the same citizens who struggled, marched, and went to jail to obliterate legalized racism from our country? Didn't we dream of a country where freedom was in the national conscience and dignity was the goal?
We must insist that the men and women who expect to lead us recognize the true desires of those who are being led. We do not choose to be herded into a building burning with hate nor into a system rife in intolerance.
Politicians must set their aims for the high ground and according to our various leanings, Democratic, Republican, Independent, we will follow.
Politicians must be told if they continue to sink into the mud of obscenity, they will proceed alone.
If we tolerate vulgarity, our future will sway and fall under a burden of ignorance. It need not be so. We have the brains and the heart to face our futures bravely. Taking responsibility for the time we take up and the space we occupy. To respect our ancestors and out of concert for our descendants, we must show ourselves as courteous and courageous well-meaning Americans.
And then there is Jon Stewart:
If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.
There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rich Sanchez is an insult -- not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put forth the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims makes us less safe, not more.
The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything we eventually get sicker. And perhaps eczema. Yet, with that being said, I feel good. Strangely, calmly good, because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a funhouse mirror, and not the good kind that makes you slim and taller -- but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass like a pumpkin and one eyeball.
So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is -- on the brink of catastrophe -- torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don't is here or on cable TV. Americans don't live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.
Most Americans don't live their lives solely as Democrats or Republicans or conservatives or liberals. Most Americans live their lives that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often it’s something they do not want to do, but they do it. Impossible things get done every day that are only made possible by the little, reasonable compromises...
Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together and the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.
Finally, from President Obama:
This is not the hardest Thanksgiving America has ever faced. But as long as many members of our American family are hurting, we’ve got to look out for one another. As long as many of our sons and daughters and husbands and wives are at war, we’ve got to support their mission and honor their service. And as long as many of our friends and neighbors are looking for work, we’ve got to do everything we can to accelerate this recovery and keep our economy moving forward.
And we will. But we won’t do it as any one political party. We’ve got to do it as one people. And in the coming weeks and months, I hope that we can work together, Democrats and Republicans and Independents alike, to make progress on these and other issues...
For what we are called to do again today isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s not about left or right. It’s about us. It’s about what we know this country is capable of. It’s about what we want America to be in this new century.
A vibrant nation that makes sure its children are the best-educated in the world. A healthy, growing economy that runs on clean energy and creates the jobs of tomorrow. A responsible government that reduces its deficits. An America where every citizen is able to go as far as he or she desires.
We can do all this, because we’ve done it before. We’re made of the same sturdy stuff as the travelers who sat down to the first Thanksgiving, and all who came after – who worked, and sacrificed, and invested, because they believed that their efforts would make the difference for us.
That’s who we are. We shape our own destiny with conviction, compassion, and clear and common purpose. We honor our past and press forward with the knowledge that tomorrow will be better than today. We are Americans. That’s the vision we won’t lose sight of. That’s the legacy that falls to our generation. That’s the challenge that together, we are going to meet.