The Two-Headed Election Day Protest: A National Sick-Out and/or Nationwide Economic Boycott

Several weeks ago I began considering ways that literally every American who is dissatisfied with all of the unethical and dysfunctional politics of this presidential election could voice their dissatisfaction. With a little input from friends on social media, I believe we’ve arrived at an effective protest that could give the political blue-bloods pause.

There are two parts to this protest. First, a National Sick-Out on Election Day: Vote, but do not go to work. Second, a Nationwide Economic Boycott or “Buy Nothing Day” on which you don’t go to restaurants or stores. Don’t shop anywhere (or as little as possible anyway).

Not everyone can participate in the first part, and that’s understandable. So the second part becomes a way that those folks can make an impact as well.

Legislators have been resisting making Election Day a national holiday, or moving it to the weekend, for decades. That this inconveniences voters and discourages many from voting at all doesn’t seem to concern our elected officials. So it’s time to just take the goddamn day and make it a de facto national holiday on our own.

If you have to ask why we’re suggesting this protest, I suspect you won’t be participating. Nonetheless, let me say that this protest is two-fold. Election Day has long been held inconveniently on a weekday when working Americans have to find a way to fit it into their busy schedules. If you saw the hours-long lines that voters suffered through during the presidential primaries, you will readily understand that giving voters the entire day to vote should alleviate some of that nastiness. Furthermore, legislators have been resisting making Election Day a national holiday, or moving it to the weekend, for decades. That this inconveniences voters and discourages many from voting at all doesn’t seem to concern our elected officials. So it’s time to just take the goddamn day and make it a de facto national holiday on our own.

Secondly, the level of bullshit going on in this election, no matter what side of the political spectrum you prefer, is unparalleled in my lifetime. Whether or not you take seriously accusations of voter suppression, parties undermining candidates, parties breaking rules, or candidates illegally coordinating with Super PACs, this has been one of the ugliest elections in American history. The fact that we ended up with two of the most unpopular candidates of all time is sufficient reason to be disgruntled and want to voice our displeasure.

For those who are perfectly happy with their chosen major party candidate, well, are you entirely satisfied with the shitstorm of negativity and the lack of focus on issues like income inequality, climate change and police brutality in the presidential debates? If not, this protest provides us an opportunity to tell our elected representatives and their party officials to focus on everyday Americans and not just on hot-button foreign policy issues that aren’t directly helping most of us survive the economic downturn.

The upside of these twin protests is that they are available to everyone in the United States who would like to participate. These are not marches (though if you’d like to organize a march, please do!) or localized protests that folks in the far reaches of rural America can’t easily reach. Nor do these protests require a tremendous amount of coordination and centralized leadership. The notion of these protests are remarkably simple: Call in sick on Election Day if you can, then go vote. Or go to work, but refrain from purchasing anything the entire day; and be sure to vote.

The notion of these protests are remarkably simple: Call in sick on Election Day if you can, then go vote. Or go to work, but refrain from purchasing anything the entire day; and be sure to vote.

Why would this be effective?  Pitting business owners against politicians upends the usual order. Corporate Democrats aren’t corporate democrats for nothing; and Republicans have had the corporate teat sucked halfway down their throats for decades. So, piss off business owners and you get the attention of our callous, greedy politicians and force them to stop and, maybe, just maybe, think.

This is no partisan protest. This is a protest against politicians and a political process that is far too readily influenced by corporations and billionaires. Both major parties are guilty of this, and even if you like the candidate, I can’t imagine anyone being happy with the amount of money being funneled into their coffers for this bloated election. So, put aside partisanship, and consider doing something meaningful on Election Day other than just voting. As has been said a few times during this election, revolutions (or even meaningful change) don’t happen when the election ends. Let’s all make sure that we put the fire to the feet of our elected officials with a loud, powerful and meaningful protest that every single one of us can participate in.

We can do this. Our voices matter, our concerns matter, and we need to remind our officials that if they don’t keep their promises to help us, we can impact them quickly and consequentially at any time. That’s the thing about easy protests like these. Everyone can do something meaningful, and it can have a real impact on the corporations trying to buy our democracy.

So, on Election Day, let’s show our power. Together.

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