Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Why am I working?

I received two e-mails last night asking me to volunteer with the GOTV effort in Virginia and Maryland. Both have very close Senate races and the Democrats will need every vote they can get in the DC suburbs to win those races.

Yet, I'm not there doing that. I'm in my classroom watching my students read two primary source accounts of the Battle for Constantinople in 1453. Interesting stuff, but not where I should be.

I should be helping folks get to the polls, I should be calling voters to remind them to vote, I should be doing anything related to the election, but I can't. I have to work. I could take one of my 3 personal days, but I have doctors appointments and other engagements that will require those days. I could call in "sick" (i.e. sick of one-party rule!), but that wouldn't be honest.

So I ask again, why am I working? Why isn't election day a national holiday? If we want people to vote, folks need to have time off from their jobs to vote and to help others do so.

I know that politics gets in the way. If today were a national holiday, poorer people who work hourly jobs would be more likely to vote and they predominantly vote Democratic therefore Republicans oppose it.

This is the type of stuff that makes me cynical about politics. I can handle disagreement over policy when the way forward isn't clear or agreed upon, but voting is not one of those cases. People should vote. Everyone agrees on that. People should be engaged in the political process. Everyone agrees on that. Allow people to take time off work without it costing them anything to vote and suddenly we have disagreement?

Stupid. Time to make election day a national holiday!