Rep. Andrew Thapedi, a Democratic state legislator in Illinois, has introduced a bill that would create a state holiday honoring Barack Obama in the land of Lincoln. You might think, given the former president’s ties to the state, and particularly to the city of Chicago, such a proposal would be a slam-dunk.
Well, you’d be wrong.
As detailed in an article over at Politico, making the holiday a reality is by no means an easy feat.
For one thing, there is the rancor over his presidency. Beyond the political agenda pursued by Obama during his time in office, many see his eight years in charge of the country as having ushered in a new and unfortunate era in politics, one where America is now so thoroughly divided that even “regular folks” possessed of differing political viewpoints find it difficult to get along.
Describing the variety of reactions to his proposal, Rep. Thapedi says, “It has been a hodge-podge of responses, from one end of the spectrum to the other: joy, jubilation on one side; absolute, unadulterated venom on the other side.”
Outside of the particularly harsh criticisms of Obama’s political legacy, many think it is simply too soon to talk about a holiday. A lot of people find it peculiar to consider such an honor for someone who just left office and who remains a relatively young person.
According to Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, while “Democrat or Republican, we should take some pride in” the fact that Obama is “the first African-American president in the history of the country,” creating an actual state holiday right now would be pushing things.
“I think most people see [a debate over a day off] as: ‘Why are we talking about this now?’”
In California, where other official recognitions of Obama have been proposed, Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco, a representative on the Republican National Committee, echoed the objection that not enough time has passed to make such efforts appropriate.
“I believe that privilege should really be reserved for people who have passed away,” Dhillon said. “I would take the same view on naming things after the Bush presidents, or after Clinton.’”
To Dhillon, it is “contrary to our concept of citizen-servants” to bestow that kind of recognition on living politicians.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large