As a child and young man, the arrival of Labor Day each year was a sad occasion. It meant the end of a glorious summer and a return to the drudgery of school for nine long months until the next summer.
Now, as a not-so-young man, it’s still a sad occasion, but for different reasons. For political activists, the arrival of Labor Day means the fall campaign season has finally arrived. It’s time for the last big push that will determine who wins and who loses. For millions of other Americans, it means that the toxic political dialogue is about to be turbocharged. During September and October of a presidential election year, politics is virtually impossible to ignore.
That’s one reason I’ve been working with FreedomWorks and a number of organizations and people promoting today as a day to #pausepolitics. We want to celebrate a National Day Without Politics. We know that America isn’t nearly as polarized as our political system, so let’s celebrate all the things that unite us.
For most Americans, not talking about politics is a fairly normal daily experience. Thirty-six percent of voters discussed the election last week “maybe once” or “not at all.” Another 26% had only a couple of such discussions. If you’re part of the vast majority of Americans who rarely discuss politics, please take a moment to pass along a positive thought about your community, your neighbors or your country. Reach out to someone who sees the world a little differently with an encouraging word.
Seventy-eight percent of voters believe that America is worth celebrating. With that in mind, we’d like to celebrate the National Day Without Politics by sharing the things we love about this country and all the blessings we enjoy. Share a photo or your favorite story with the #celebrateamericans hashtag. Or check out the website celebrateamericans.com to see how others are celebrating this great nation.
I recognize that the idea of taking a day off from politics will be stressful for some. At least 15% of voters say they talked to someone outside their family about politics every day last week. Another 21% did so on most days. For a few, politics is an essential part of how they view themselves.
If you’re part of the minority that talks about politics every day, I would encourage you to #pausepolitics for a different reason. In the words of political positioning, consider it a 24-hour listening tour. Listen to what the people around you are talking about. Not the “issues” or their political leanings; listen to what those who rarely discuss politics actually talk about.
It may be hiking or music or boating or art or any of a million different hobbies. It will almost certainly include hopes and concerns about family and friends. There will be discussions about births and deaths and moving and job changes and dating and marriage. These are the things that capture the hearts and souls of most Americans — and they are the things that can unite us as a society.
There is certainly a time and a place for politics. It is good for people to pay attention and vote. It is good to consider all the ways we can work together to create a better world — and some of them will involve politics. But, in the era of never-ending political campaigns and partisan wars, there is also a need to create and protect politics-free zones. We need to set aside time and space where we can focus on things that really matter the most and to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.
Let’s get started by making today a National Day Without Politics.