Friday, November 07, 2008

What I'll Be Doing On Election Day 2008

What will I be doing on Election day? I will spend most of the day at home, and I will not be going to work. Why? Because I live in Russia, and in Russia, it's a holiday. That's right, over here in the EVIL EMPIRE they get our election day off, but Americans have to juggle going to work, driving the kids around, and going to the poles. Voting becomes another thing on our already long to do list. In Russia it happens to be: "Day of National Unity."

Every year it is said that such a small percentage of Americans vote, and it's some sort of shame, but every year voting just gets harder, not easier. Have you been erased from the rolls? Will you have to fight for the right that men and women have died so that you can have? Do you have the proper ID if your state requires it, do you have to lie up at the booth and then again to get your vote into the computerized reader? Did you successfully fill in the ballot? Are you chads hanging?

Every year some or other wack-o proposes the following crazy idea of solving the problem, this year I am that wack-o. Election day should be a national holiday. This will leave everyone plenty of time to vote, and stand in line if necessary, and defend their rights, and even jump through the hoops required. Then celebrate this right! Have parties, make pumpkin pies out of old Halloween pumpkins, help those who can't easily get out to vote do that. Volunteer at the poles, most election workers are retirees, because only they have that day to volunteer. It makes more sense in every way. For those who think adding one more holiday to the calendar is not good, we can take one away, Presidents Day for example, isn't it more important to elect a President then go shopping for a car? And with that rhetorical question I think I just hit on something, some would say the answer is NO, especially if your job is selling cars. The fact is the people in charge of creating this voting holiday are the same people who it may not benefit.

I'm not talking about Republicans OR Democrats, I'm taking about Republicans AND Democrats. The people in power make the election rules, and they aren't about to do something that's not in their own interest. More turn out at the poles would change the fragile balance of the American political system. What would it do, I don't think that anyone can really tell, but what is for sure is a lot of people who ordinarily don't vote would vote, and it wouldn't be 51/49 anymore. Some people would say SHHHH... you don't really want those people voting anyway, they'll vote against your interests. I give Americans more credit, I think that it could open the door to a third party, more independent candidates, and all sorts of new opportunities in democracy. As I said I am writing this from Russia. Where they get their election day off, as well as ours. They have a one party majority, we have just one more choice. Here in Moscow, the Moscow Times reported a quote from the Chechen president on the eve of his re-election saying "I expected very high turn out, 100% maybe even more." We can easily look at their one party majority that they have carved for themselves and say that it's unfair, but honestly our two party system is just one step away from that. I believe a national holiday for elections can help save our democracy. Making the day a holiday will give it the reverence we need to really teach civic responsibility, the importance of the vote and voter education.

Also it will up turn out on non Presidential or Congressional election years. These are the times when people who try to slip the crookedest ballot legislation past us, once again low turn out give them their power to do this. And like any other holiday we can gather with family and friends, or we can go out drinking, or it would be a great day for football, of course it's too early to make for a bowl game for the day, but and election day double header would be a very American way to celebrate such a day. Lets face it, our fall holidays as they are now kinda suck. There's Thanksgiving, also known as get in a fight with your drunk uncle day, and Halloween which is fine if you're a kid, or your an adult who wants to dress as a Nazi or prostitute one day a year, but it's not a real celebration of anything, just an excuse to eat candy or get drunk.

Where will I be on election day? I'll be in bed. Maybe I'll wonder if my absentee ballot was ever received maybe not, and most likely I won't even get the results until the next day. So when you're rushing around trying to get everything done and somehow vote, or if you're like millions of Americans who intend to vote but just don't do it because there not enough time, remember me being oppressed over here in the pseudo-democracy with all the time in the world on November 4th.

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