Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday proposed getting rid of Columbus Day as a holiday and replacing it with a day off for Election Day.
It started when Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Saturday night, “how is Columbus Day a holiday but Election Day not?”
The Daily Mail’s U.S. political editor David Martosko quote tweeted Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday and wrote that she “hasn’t even started the job yet and she’s already angling for more vacation days.”
The incoming Democratic representative then quote tweeted Martosko and replied: “While I would disagree with your complaint that Americans get too much vacation time (we work some of the longest hours of any dev country & have no Fed required paid leave), I am willing to compromise by eliminating Columbus Day to give Election Day off. See? I can be pliant.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s view that Columbus Day should not be a holiday reflected the opinions of many Americans who do not want to glorify the enslavement and killing of Native Americans at Christopher Columbus’s conquest in 1492.
In 1992, Berkeley, California, became the first city in the United States to instate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day, which falls in October. Other U.S. cities have followed suit since.
Ocasio-Cortez has been outspoken even before she won her midterm election race and made history by becoming the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress, at the age of 29. A democratic socialist, she has introduced other bold ideas including a “Medicare for all” proposal and advocated for the abolishment of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
As Ocasio-Cortez makes more of her ideas heard, conservatives have lodged more attacks against her.
A Washington Examiner reporter last week tweeted a photo of Ocasio-Cortez’s backside and commented, “That jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.” It was just one of various criticism she has faced from conservatives who say she leads a more luxurious life than she claims. Ocasio-Cortez, a former bartender who grew up in the Bronx to working-class parents, said she could not afford an apartment in Washington, D.C.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez addresses the crowd gathered at La Boom night club in Queens on November 6, in New York City. Ocasio-Cortez called for Columbus Day to be replaced by Election Day as a holiday. Rick Loomis/Getty Images
The idea that Election Day should be a national holiday was proposed by independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, for whom Ocasio-Cortez was an organizer, when he pursued the Democratic primary for the 2016 presidential election.
After a turnout of only about 36 percent in the 2014 elections, according to the University of Florida’s United States Elections Project, Sanders co-sponsored a bill to establish “Democracy Day” to make it easier for Americans to vote.
“Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote. While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy,” Sanders wrote on his website. “We should not be satisfied with a ‘democracy” in which more than 60 percent of our people don’t vote and some 80 percent of young people and low-income Americans fail to vote.”