President’s Day in an Election Year

Dr. Munr Kazmir
5 min readFeb 19, 2024

Celebrating a divided holiday in a divided nation.

Photo by Ben Noble on Unsplash.

In our contentious and divided age of reason and unreason, what are we to do with Presidents Day?

Washington’s Birthday Deserves To Be Its Own Holiday,” argues one (Peter Roff, Newsweek). “Dump Presidents Day: Election Day is a better way to honor American democracy,” argues another (Carla Hall, LA Times).

“The image of America as a great nation, the hope of humankind, is not very much in vogue these days,” laments Roff for Newsweek. “Our common sense of greatness has been eclipsed by naysayers and academic nabobs who argue our democratic experiment is failing, not by choice but by design.”

“They have made talk of his greatness unfashionable, an unfortunate development in a country that might not have been had he not led its fight for independence,” he continued. “Washington, the man was once a venerated American institution, purposefully set apart from men who followed him into the presidency. Even those who do not subscribe to the so-called ‘Great Man’ theory of history must acknowledge his centrality to the creation and survival of a nation founded on the idea of liberty that changed the world for the better.”

“We need a national day to consider the man, his flaws — which were mercifully few — and his greatness,” asks Roff. “He deserves a special place of honor. What we have now is too easy to overlook. We can use Washington, his memory, as well as his legacy to bring the people together. It is a worthwhile goal, one he would have understood and approved.”

Others disagree.

“I suspect Washington would have approved of substituting a holiday honoring him for one that really honors the electorate,” speculates Carla Hall for the LA Times. “His farewell address focused on national unity and threats to the young nation, but it did exhort Americans to do all they could to protect their union, saying that ‘it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness.’”

“What better justification could there be for an official holiday for voting?” asks Hall rhetorically, having already given the answer.

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