Let's not mince words: our democracy is in the shitter.
But in the last 48 hours over 100,000 Americans have stepped up to demand we do better! A coalition push lead by Brave New Films, Daily Kos, and Democracy for America is gaining increasing steam in the call for a one-time 2016 Election Day Holiday, which Obama can create by issuing an executive order.
In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the historic Voting Rights Act.
In 2014, fewer than 40 percent of Americans voted in the midterm election.
And our overall turnout rarely breaks 60 percent.
That puts the U.S. 120th in the world in voter participation, which lands us well below places like Tunisia and Yemen!
All of this is going on while the overwhelming majority of industrialized countries in the world, such as Australia, France, and Japan, vote on Saturday or Sunday. That way most citizens aren't disenfranchised from their right to vote by long lines or the inability to leave work. Countries like Germany and Belgium have continued to vote during the week, but have made the day a national holiday, with no significant loss of economic gain and a much higher voter turnout rate than America.
And yet, instead of taking actions to make voting more accessible in the U.S., those in positions of power are implementing more and more voter suppression tactics. Since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that opened up the floodgates for modern-day poll taxes and literacy tests, nearly every state has introduced bills to make voting harder, and many states have done just that through discriminatory voter photo ID bills or drastic cuts to early voting days, same-day registration, and other suppressive measures.
This is all on top of our highly problematic voting infrastructure which leaves poor communities and communities of color stuck in prohibitively long lines at polls during every national election.
And it's not because we're slacking on increasing and sophisticating efforts to educate and mobilize voters to the polls. Whether it's through voter registration drives, door-knocking, phone calls, email reminders, social media pushes, or rides to the polls, folks from both sides of the aisle are out in force doing everything they can to get Americans energized about voting.
But, it's just not enough. There are too many barriers. Which lead to millions and millions of disillusioned and disenfranchised Americans.
The only voting block that consistently votes at the rate of other countries is America's 1 percent. And that's no coincidence. They don't have those barriers to hurdle. And they get the concrete rewards of policies like the carried interest loophole.
That' why we need the 99 percent to take real action on this now. A coalition of non-profits, media outlets, and social media giants are stepping up to call on President Obama to issue an executive order that makes the 2016 election day a one-time federal holiday -- and thereby give all states and businesses permission to follow his lead.
Presidents issue one-time federal holidays all of the time. Obama has done it multiple years for the day after Christmas. Bush declared a one-time holiday in honor of President Reagan's passing. And so on.
So doesn't democracy, the thing that makes America America, deserve a federal holiday!?
We think it does. And, yes, we know it isn't a magic silver bullet and that it won't solve all the voter suppression ills plaguing this country. But it will be a concrete step towards increasing access to voting, as well as shine a well-needed spotlight on poor turnout and voting access issues. It will be a step towards making the polling place more accessible to all. And, it can be done without the second-least productive Congress in history needing to do a damn thing.
Take your democracy back. Join your fellow Americans and demand a 2016 election day holiday.