The author is the Washington bureau chief of the JoongAng Ilbo.
The 2016 U.S. presidential election, which was hit by Trump’s storm, changed how Americans spend their holiday. Family members with different political stances spent less time together. Research shows that American families spent an average of 4.3 hours together for Thanksgiving Day. Families supporting different candidates spent 30 to 50 minutes less together than those who support the same candidate.
Dinner table talk often turned into political debates. People couldn’t refrain from debating as they ate with family members with different views in an uncomfortable setting. They become overly confident that they are right and others are wrong. That is called the “Thanksgiving derangement syndrome.”
The tension is building up again this year. Many advise not to discuss politics, but there are many sensitive issues. President Biden’s approval rating is falling in the aftermath of the Afghan withdrawal, an extended pandemic and delays in welfare budget processing. In the meantime, former president Trump’s voice is getting louder. While prices are rising due to logistics crisis, businesses are struggling with labor shortage before the holiday season.
After the holiday, the defense security strategy report, the nuclear posture review report and the missile defense review report will come out. The review of the deployment posture of the U.S. forces around the world, which will lead to a change in the role of U.S. forces in Korea, will also be unveiled. These are important issues directly related to the fate of the Korean Peninsula.
In Korea’s presidential campaign, some point out that serious discussions and debates on foreign policy and security have less priority. Ruling Democratic Party (DP) candidate Lee Jae-myung advocates “pragmatic diplomacy” centered on national interests. Opposition People Power Party (PPP) candidate Yoon Seok-youl wants the “execution of comprehensive strategic alliance” between Korea and America. But I wonder how serious they are about these promises. A high-level source in Washington expressed concerns that the U.S. is to hold Quad defense and industry ministers’ meetings following the Quad summit to keep China in check. But a big picture to protect Korea’s national interests couldn’t be found.
Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday of November, and the holiday season is in full swing as the Black Friday sale events are already beginning. But I feel rather uncomfortable to enjoy the festive mood this time.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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