The One Day (Off) When We Can Change the Course of Our Democracy
One Saturday evening in early October (admittedly after a few drinks), I found myself perusing Twitter and stumbled upon the trending topic of #takebacktuesday. What a simple and great idea, I thought.
As I soon learned, Election Day Tuesday is a relic of the 19th century, when people (men) needed time to travel by horse and buggy to the polls without missing any of the three days of worship. But today, one of the top reasons for poor voter turnout is the simple issue of people being too busy or inconvenienced by work to actually make it to the polls on a weekday.
In my moment of tipsy excitement, I quickly clicked the link, ‘Send to your Boss' to encourage them to close shop for Election Day. I confidently entered the email address of my agency's president and clicked send. Cognitive dissonance set in immediately and I thought, what the hell did I just do?! I’m a lowly intern asking for a day off. I even thought of what my exit interview might sound like.
I somehow mustered up the confidence to come into work at Neiman the following week. But instead of being told my services were no longer needed, I soon found myself in front of all the agency's department heads pitching the idea as the movement it could be.
There are plenty of holidays we celebrate that no longer have a practical civic purpose. And most of them are great. But in reality, there’s one day that gives us the chance to change the course of our democracy. This should be dedicated to voting, and making it easier for people to express their political choices. And because I haven’t always had United States citizenship, I’m a firm believer in every one of our civic duties—especially voting.
Senior leadership at Neiman agreed, and that’s why we joined Take Back Tuesday. And this isn’t a one-off initiative—it will now be an annual company-wide holiday. But we're not stopping there. We’ll also be off for "Primary Day" in our respective states of residence, as Neiman sees this as another day that is an integral part of our democracy machine.
These are by no means just days off, however. We’re hopeful this initiative will inspire all of our employees to take time out to support their candidate of choice or other causes they believe in. Be it through the simple act of voting, helping others to the polls and/or spreading the word of causes that are important to them, it’s a day where we’re encouraged to exercise our freedoms.
We love the idea of making civic and democratic participation a cornerstone of our culture. But it’s an idea that can only become reality if we, the people, subscribe to it. And making it easy for thousands of Americans (or even just our employees) to vote definitely feels like a step in the right direction.
So I encourage employees everywhere (even interns) to muster up some courage (liquid if need be) and make a case for a cause you believe in. Because, you too may effect change in your lives and surroundings.
This post is part of the Take Back Tuesday campaign to make Voting Day a national holiday. Sign up or encourage your company to join in at takebacktuesday.good.is.
Illustration by Tyler Hoehne