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What About Congress Day?

In Government, Politics on February 16, 2010 at 3:47 am

Yesterday was Presidents’ Day. A nice day off for most, a long weekend retreat for many others. The Prez himself took the day off. As I considered the holiday, it occurred to me that at its most basic level, it’s a celebration of the service and accomplishments of only one branch of our system of government. What gives?

Well, first of all, I’m wrong. As implemented in 1880, federally, the holiday is officially called Washington’s Birthday, although ironically with later modifications to assure it falls on the third Monday of February, it will always be between the 15th and 21st. Old Boy George’s birthday is on the 22nd. (In researching this I also learned that the Iroquois not so fondly nicknamed him “Town Destroyer” in the French and Indian War.)

While the holiday was solely intended to celebrate Washington’s leadership and role as “Father of our country,” that has not become its popular interpretation. Most state and local governments (not to mention Raymour & Flanigan) favor Presidents’ Day and celebrate more broadly the Office of the Presidency and the men who have held the title. That sounded fine to me at first. After all, as Mel Gibson says to James Coburn in Payback, “One man… you go high enough you always come to one man.”

Then I thought… what about the other branches? This feels like a checks and balances issue. The president already has the nicest mixed-use facility in the world to live and work out of, extensive media coverage, and the best-trained armed guards in the history of the world at his side for the rest of his life. Plus the buck stops with him! The Executive Branch is the easiest to understand! One person handles all the stuff.

Why should he (or she, someday) get a holiday but the Legislative Branch get shafted? Where’s my Congress Day? The two houses of Congress deliberate all year but get no recognition.  It’s profoundly challenging to argue incessantly for that long and get nothing done. They deserve to be honored. Congress has a stutteringly abysmal approval rating, averaging about 20%, and measuring as low as 15% in some samples. Even Sarah Palin has higher numbers, and friends, that is saying something. Read the rest of this entry »