WASHINGTON, November 9, 2016 — The idea of making election day a holiday has been mooted for years. According to proponents, if it were a holiday, more people could vote without having to take time off from work. An election-day holiday would both celebrate and promote civic duty.
Opponents counter that it’s unnecessary. Early voting and absentee ballots make voting a snap. You can vote on a weekend or by mail. No one needs to miss work to vote. We don’t need a new holiday associated with our elections.
Except we do. We just don’t need it on election day. We need it the day after.
The halls of academia were damp today with the tears of students and faculty. University housekeeping across the country seriously considered setting up fans to prevent mildew, and uncarpeted floors were slick with the residue of misery.
At some of the nation’s most prestigious schools—Bryn Mawr, Johns Hopkins, Loyola—students petitioned for a holiday. According to the Loyola petition, “Loyola students are exhausted and exasperated from this election and no one wants to go to class.”
That undoubtedly includes some faculty. Many of them are as devastated and emotionally fragile as their students. At high schools and colleges along the West Coast, they expressed their fragility with marches, demonstrations and the occasional riot.
Tempers on campus were short today; some students felt that life and education were suddenly pointless. If that’s what their education taught them, they might have a point. One professor of Romance languages was moved to tell weeping students, “oh, grow up. That’s life.”
French 3 is not a safe space.
If schools didn’t cancel classes university-wide, some classes were cancelled when faculty found themselves unable to cope. Students skipped classes rather than risk facing jubilant Trump voters on the street. Some Trump voters (those rare few willing to admit it on campus) were micro-aggressively unwilling to conceal their satisfaction.
Political and data wonks among students and faculty were simply exhausted after sitting up until 3 a.m., poring through statistical data while waiting for someone to call the race for Trump. My own classes were wasted effort, not because I was too depressed to teach them, but because after only three hours of sleep, I kept disturbing my students with my snores.
Half the country is in no mood to deal with the other half of the country today. Some people celebrated too much last night, and others numbed their misery with booze or with newly legal pot. Workplace arguments are probably up today, productivity down.
America needs a day to chill; some of us need a time out. Others need time and a place to gloat, preferably not near those still in stages of grief.
This is one case on which the snowflakes might have a point: America needs an election holiday, a morning-after quiet time. Our mental health and productivity depend on it.