Why I don't observe President's Day
1. We don't have a Representatives' Day, a Senators' Day, or a Justices' Day, nor (at least in my state) is there a Governor's Day. Why, in a federal system of co-equal institutions of government, should the federal executive alone be accorded a Day?
2. Parliamentary systems don't, to my knowledge, have a Prime Minister's Day. What is so special about a presidential head of government? (Many monarchies have a royal day of some sort, but our head of state is manifestly not (supposed to be) a monarch, the evident wishes of Hamilton and Bush notwithstanding.)
3. The existence of this holiday, and its name, are sops to business interests and Southern separatists. Business interests wanted a single day, always a weekend extender, instead of one or two (we'll get to the two) that "move," relative to the weekend, thereby occasionally creating an interrupted business week or an excuse for a four-day holiday. Of course, the original holiday here was Washington's Birthday, 22 February. Southern separatists wanted to avoid any mention of a Lincoln's Birthday holiday, which is, of course, still recognized separately by some states. (Those states that recognize both thus implicitly have two days for Lincoln, which is not necessarily a bad thing for the last great Republican President: one for the man himself, plus his share of the generic President's Day; Washington loses out here, relatively speaking.)
4. President's Day has become little more than an excuse for sales and other commercialization, though come to think of it, that makes it a typical American holiday--nothing "holy" (as in distinct, different from the other days) in there. Some school districts in California now "observe" an entire week, rather than have two separate holidays for Lincoln and Washington/others. In some districts, it has come to be known as Ski Week. So much for honoring our Presidents (or dishonoring them, as the case may be).
So, today I will not be observing President's Day. In fact, I will be non-observing it by working on a paper. And not the paper I have been working on about presidential elections, but rather one on legislators (even if they are legislators in a presidential democracy). I do, however, want to wish people a belated holy observance of Lincoln's Birthday (Tuesday of last week)--a day to reflect on the judicious application of leadership and respect for national integrity and citizenship at a time of genuine national crisis (and also a time to note that mere-plurality-winning presidents aren't necessarily a bad thing). And to wish everyone a wonderful three-day weekend coming up, on which to remember a president worthy of his reputation for wartime heroism. Recommended reading for observing the holiday: Washington's Farewell Address, and also the Farewell Address* of another president who ascended to the office by virtue of his war record: Dwight Eisenhower. Learn, think, reflect, and rest during your observance of great presidents past.**
* Clearly, a key mark presidential greatness is saying goodbye.
** Somehow, these days, almost all of the presidents past seem great.
Inspired by the "Why I don't observe..." series at Mah Rabu.