Making Federal Election Day a National Holiday: A Postscript: V Day

In January of this year, I entered a post, “Making Federal Election Day a National Holiday,” noting that the then-new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives had introduced a bill that included a provision designating federal election days as paid holidays for federal workers, that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had sharply criticized the bill, and that it was obvious that Sen. McConnell’s opposition was an admission that at least in politically purple areas of the country, the more people that vote, the better that the Democrats fare. At the same time, I acknowledged that at a time of spiraling federal deficits, it was appropriate to avoid increasing federal costs without attendant productivity gains, and accordingly suggested that we might in effect combine a “Federal Election Day” federal holiday and Washington’s Birthday, with Election Day being the holiday provided federal employees in voting years and Washington’s Birthday being retained as their holiday in non-voting years.

As we are on the cusp of another federal election year, and being completely aware that no changes to our federal holiday structure that enhance Democrats’ electoral prospects will pass a Republican-controlled Senate, I nonetheless want to call attention to a Comment I received from a close friend not long after I entered my post. He agreed with my general premise but outlined a way to make it manifestly more practical, stating, in part, as follows:

“I would propose the combination of Veterans Day with Voting Day (Federal Election Day)…. By combining Veterans Day with … Election Day we would increase the acknowledgement of the sacrifice made by our veterans and be able to participate in that form of government for which it was made…. Also, Veterans Day is celebrated in November which would/could align with our normal November Elections.”

I discovered through a little research what I am a bit chagrined to admit that I didn’t already know – that Veterans Day is observed on November 11 to commemorate the formal end of the major hostilities of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. While the rationale for observing Veterans Day on November 11 therefore retains significance, I will venture that perhaps no American alive today actually remembers the end of World War I. We have unfortunately developed thousands upon thousands of veterans of wars more recent than the Great War. Moving the Veterans Day holiday from November 11 to the first Tuesday after November 1 should seemingly raise little concern, wouldn’t increase our federal cost, and would, as our friend noted, enable more of our people to exercise arguably the most fundamental right for which veterans have made their sacrifice. It might also result in a broader and deeper remembrance of our veterans’ dedication, more akin to Memorial Day.

I have only a cosmetic suggestion to add to our friend’s substantive proposal: that the holiday might be called, “V [as in, ‘Veterans’ and ‘Voting’] Day.”

Although this change won’t be in effect in 2020, let’s hope that it is for all the Novembers thereafter.

V Day …

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