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.