Saturday, November 8, 2014


The best single political reform idea is Bernie Sander’s proposal to make Election Day a national holiday, DEMOCRACY DAY.

Our political system has become dangerously less democratic, more and more in the grip of super wealth, gridlocked when it comes to the elementary interests of the vast majority of the public. The clearest indicator of this crisis is that a large majority of the electorate doesn’t vote, reflecting widespread disillusionment as well as enactment of deliberate voter restriction measures.

Many ideas for structural reform of the political and electoral system, including constitutional changes, get floated. Most seem so unlikely that they only distract from the reality of current battles on vital issues. 

But I think there are two reform measures that have a great potential for capturing attention and support to change the political climate and Save Democracy. One is movement to overturn the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling. The other is the Sanders proposal for a national holiday on Election Day.

Both measures tap directly into very widespread public concerns: disgust with the obscene buying of elections and of government itself by the oligarchs; growing resentment at the rigging of the electoral process and restrictions on the right to vote.

Of course, Sanders’ idea is far from a cure-all. There are fundamental problems with the two-party system and within the Democratic Party. And nothing is more important than the fight to win on critical economic and social issues.

Still, the Sanders proposal is simple and direct. It cuts through political machinations and makes democracy central: Do we celebrate the right to vote? Who thinks it’s to be feared? 


  1. Leon -
    If memory serves, I used to get a holiday for Election Day, or at least time off to vote. I'm not sure everyone used that time for voting. But you (and Bernie) are right that it would give more weight to the concept of voting, which seems to have fallen out of favor. My parents used always to say "if you don't vote, you can't complain." Wish we could enforce tthat.
    - Sally

  2. I just came back from Peru where election day isn't a holiday (tho it's probably on the weekend), but it is a REQUIREMENT that you vote ... people who don't vote get charged a fine when they need a gov't doc, like renewing their driver's license, or have other transactions w/ the gov't.


  3. I agree with your liking of Bernie Sanders' suggestion of a holiday for election day and I would add that polls should be open twenty-four hours. However, I have a very low expectation that it will make a difference in participation. Given the pusillanimity of the candidates this time, who would even want to vote for individuals who run away from their president and deny him credit for his accomplishments - however puny they may judge them to be? I fear, middle class people don't vote because they feel they'll survive the pain and poor people don't vote because they feel that their input won't make any difference.
    I am not happy with Obama and find much wanting in the conduct of his presidency, including not fighting for his own agenda more forcefully. But consider the alternatives. Anyway, I have real difficulty with citizens who only attend to their own needs. I am grateful that anybody wants to be president; what a lousy job! My expectations of the person in that office probably exceed human capacity.
    Cheers, Cornelia