Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez wants to replace Columbus Day with a voting holiday.
Photo by Rick Loomis/Getty Images

It’s time to turn Columbus Day into something we can all feel good about as Americans.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t even taken office yet but she’s already steadily making waves on Capitol Hill.

Her latest proposal is an idea that could transform two American cultural issues that are becoming increasingly problematic: Columbus Day and voter rights. In a tweet over the weekend, Ocasio-Cortez suggested making Columbus Day a voting holiday, writing:


“While I would disagree with your complaint that Americans get too much vacation time (we work some of the longest hours of any dev country & have no Fed required paid leave), I am willing to compromise by eliminating Columbus Day to give Election Day off. See? I can be pliant.”

Doesn’t Democracy Day sound a lot better than Columbus Day?

And in case you missed the context, that was Ocasio-Cortez responding to a personal attack from a reporter who was essentially accusing the incoming House member of being lazy.

As Newsweek notes, the idea of swapping out Columbus Day for a national voting holiday started with Bernie Sanders, who proposed a national “Democracy Day” after low voter turnout in 2014, writing on his website:

“Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote. While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy.”

“We should not be satisfied with a 'democracy" in which more than 60 percent of our people don't vote and some 80 percent of young people and low-income Americans fail to vote.”

Creating a national holiday day for voting doesn’t have to be controversial or partisan. After all, who doesn’t like holidays?

But more seriously, finding time to vote can be a real headache for people who live in states or counties that don’t have vote by mail or other more convenient options.

And while a national voting holiday creates its own set of problems (some people will still need to work, who will run the polling stations, etc, etc.) celebrating American democracy seems like something just about every American should be able to get behind.

Independence is literally the idea America was born upon and a commitment to democratically elected leaders and laws is the system on which our country was built.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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