Why WaPo is wrong about Voting and Veterans Day ...

Phil Briggs
October 17, 2018 - 12:15 pm

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Y’know who should get Veterans Day off?

Veterans.

If you raised your hand, served and got a DD214, you’re a part of the club that earned a day off. If you didn’t, then you’re still a proud American, just be the kind of American who covers for me at work while I enjoy a day with my family, or fishing or on the golf course.

If this discussion seems to fly out of left field, consider this- a recent Washington Post article discussed how an extra paid day off would increase America’s voter turn out.  An equally confused WaPo reader also suggested that we combine Columbus Day with Veterans Day to create an official "Election Day”.  All in an attempt to make more Americans perform their civic duty.

While I doubt most Americans can even tell you why Veterans Day was originally created, I know most would not perform civic duties if granted more spare time.

Let’s look at Adam Bonica and Michael McFaul’s article entitled "Want Americans To Vote? Give them the day off." In it they say, “According to the Current Population Survey, the occupations that report the highest voter turnout rates in midterm elections are salaried professionals with flexible work schedules such as lawyers, educators, and executives. Those with the lowest turnout are hourly paid workers in service jobs in restaurants and retail … We owe it to each other to ensure that none of us is compelled to choose between voting and earning a paycheck, missing a lecture or picking up children on time from daycare.”

While it’s certainly true that some salaried jobs offer the kind of flexibility which allow workers to easily leave their workplace, look at any convenience store or gas station on Christmas Day.  Guess what?  Even on our nation’s most significant holiday- there are still people working.

Of course Bonica and McFaul believe this could all be overcome if the chief executives of Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks, Home Depot, Lowe’s, McDonald’s, Yum Brands, Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods would just, “perform a civic duty, take the lead and announce their intention to give a few hours of paid leave to employees on Election Day.”

Much as I doubt either WaPo writer would tolerate being denied a latte at Starbucks, because the baristas all left to vote, I again doubt those individuals would be voting with their new found time off.

Which brings us to an idea suggested by WaPo reader SR Cohen, whose letter to the editor said, “In some state and municipal localities, Election Day is a day off from work for state and school employees. Veterans Day is a federal holiday, but it is not necessarily observed as a day off … Why not combine the two to create one formal holiday?”

Which brings us back to where we started.  You should not get Veterans Day “off” if you’re not a veteran. 

Ultimately, we should stop thinking that playing “Holiday Calendar Bingo” will have any effect on voter turnout. 

Want to increase turnout?  Make it easier to vote.

We can check ourselves onto a flight, with nothing more than a driver’s license and a credit card.  I recently attended an NFL football game by simply showing my phone to a gate screener.  I know more people who visit Walmart weekly than could tell you where their polling location is.

The real problem is that we have not applied technology to the system we all claim is the only thing that keeps democracy alive.  And yet most people regularly bitch and moan about the political outcomes.

Give me a driver’s license that verifies citizenship and voter registration, a 3-day window to vote and deploy millions of ATM-like voting machines at every Walmart (which allow us to vote with our licenses) and I’ll show you a way to double voter turnout.

And give me a day off work, while kids in school (and my colleagues back at work) can ponder the sacrifices made by the generations of veterans that came before us (starting with WWI and the history behind Armistice Day).  Or even just reflect on where everyone could donate money to help assist veteran suicide prevention programs.

Do those things and then I’ll show you a real way to honor veterans on Veterans Day.

 

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