It's come around again: election season in the Divided States of America. And not just any election season, the big one, the presidential election. And in our politically divided country, presidential politics have reached new levels of animosity, spending, partisanship, accusations, and sometimes, just outright weirdness. Thanks, Mr. Eastwood! Your presence sure livened up the RNC in Tampa. And we loved your Halftime in America commercial. It's good to see some changes in our political system, and (even unintentional) humor is a much-needed change.
But one thing hasn't changed. Low voter turnout in the United States, the world's example of how a democracy votes. Whether its voter overconfidence, media over-stimulation, or just plain old apathy, every four years half of the country decides who's going become the new president, the Commander in Chief, and get to redecorate the White House. Oh, and lead the country for the next four years.
And if roughly half of the eligible citizens of the United States do vote, that leaves millions of people who don't seem to care. Are nonvoters showing by their lack of engagement that each side represents the same outcome to them? Is everything fine, so voting is an activity not worth bothering with? Do they think so little of their own country that the political process doesn't interest them? Are these the people who already consider our political system so far broken that there's no sense in being involved enough to register an opinion, or are they just waiting for a three-party system to magically spring up? Would more people turn out to vote if we had proportional representation, so a wider range of voices could enter the system?
One solution to the low voter turnout problem is to make Election Day a national holiday, so voters could easily make it to the polls, and no longer have the excuse of having to either fit in the act of voting either before or after working all day. Sooner or later, voting will be as easy as going online and clicking for your candidate, like everything else. But in the meantime, maybe sheer convenience isn't such a necessary factor in voting, especially when it comes to picking the president.
There's something compelling and maybe even rewarding about standing with one's fellow citizens, and taking part in one of the most revered days in American politics. One of the things that still works about America is its ceaseless potential to reinvent itself.
What we're proposing isn't that every Election Day becomes a national holiday, just the presidential election, which only takes place once every four years. So, workers having a day off to vote wouldn't be a disruption to the economy, or anything a citizen of our country could deny would be worthwhile and smart thing to do.
Think about it. A federal holiday giving people permission to take the day off and vote their conscience, vote their beliefs, and vote with all their heart. We're proposing the idea of reinventing how the country votes for the president. Separate the presidential Election Day from local elections, and make it stand out even more in voters' minds. Even if the Presidential Election Day holiday only increased voter turnout by 5 percent, that would be newsworthy, and perhaps democracy-altering. And, in our recent election cycles, when we've had both squeaker and disputed elections, that's a huge number to consider.
Let's talk to our local and state representatives, and begin the conversation. Make Presidential Election Day a national holiday, and begin reinventing our political system.