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The Times They Are A-Changin' | The Nation

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The Times They Are A-Changin'

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The recent jockeying for position in the primaries by Florida, Michigan, South Carolina and California threatens to destabilize our country's time-honored primary schedule. However, this jostling may in fact be providing us with a unique opportunity to rethink some of our accepted notions about dates, seasons and even time itself.

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Annabelle Gurwitch
Writer and actress Annabelle Gurwitch currently prognosticates on both politics and pop culture on National Public...

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As Sarah Palin goes back to Alaska, take a moment to appreciate some other Sarahs.

Incessant cries for help--and money--from people running campaigns are destroying my peace of mind.

Iowa's governor, Chet Culver, has announced he's so worried about the caucus getting caught up in the December holiday season that he's considering changing the state's Constitution so the caucus can take place in January. While some see problems, I see opportunity. Amending a state's Constitution to accommodate a temporarily pressing matter seems to me to be a rather draconian measure, although ignoring our national Constitution has not caused our President one lost night of sleep--but I think I might have another solution. Let's simply rethink this distracting holiday season altogether.

While the United States could join Ethiopia and Eritrea in celebrating New Year's Eve in early September, since we already have Labor Day, that might make workers feel their day is being overshadowed, so I suggest we rethink Christmas. Let's face it: Christmas has always been too close to New Year's anyway, so let's move that up to the beginning of December, giving people two great separate holidays to look forward to in those dark days of winter. And why stop there? Other holidays are getting the short end of the stick. Sure, April Fool's Day always makes the paper, but perhaps more people would rally to celebrate National Cheese Ball Day if it occupied a date of greater prominence. So instead of April 17, let's do a switcheroo. Father's Day has also had its importance diminished by Graduation Day. My husband relishes his special day, and he hates that "dads and grads" coupling, so let's move that up also.

While we're looking at holidays, let's consider the work week. Mondays are tough, but you need to start somewhere, so Mondays--like our current executive office holders, it seems--are unimpeachable. Tuesday should remain intact, as one has gotten back to business. The second day of the week can often be counted on for at least a modicum of productivity, so that stays. Surely most people would agree that Wednesday makes sense--middle of the week--focused and on-task, you hit your stride. But Thursday is just an endurance test and no fun at all, while Friday is something everyone looks forward to. So let's just skip Thursday altogether, shall we?

Then, in a bold move that will acknowledge our country's belated recognition of global warming's changing weather patterns, we might as well give in and just move summer up to spring--it gets hot so early now, which means we'll be moving up Labor Day to, say, the beginning of August. That will in turn escalate the beginning of the school year, pushing up the back-to-school shopping season to August, which is a good thing, because August is typically a slow retail season. This may cause children to have a longer school year, but with the science scores of US students well below those of students in other English-speaking countries, and with mathematics testing at the same level of that recognized world leader in education, the Czech Republic--coupled with the drudgery of driving kids around all summer trolling for play dates and camps--I say let them stay in school as long as possible!

All of this escalation will have the added effect of making the run-up to Election Day shorter, which will be good, as some of us are already exhausted by the coverage the candidates are getting. In turn, it will have the added bonus that these folks will actually not need to raise so much money, thus rendering moot the controversy over lobbyists and who is in the pocket of big corporations or a certain dubious Asian businessman.

While we're changing the calendar, how about revisiting our notion of time itself? When Hugo Chávez announced that he was moving Venezuela's time up by a half-hour, creating, in effect, its own time zone, I thought it was pretty surprising--until I was reminded that Newfoundland was also on the half-hour and I realized our current notions of measuring time are simply too confining.

Ten p.m. never comes soon enough for me. That's when many shows with adult content come on that networks can't show earlier because kids are up--but I can't stay up that late precisely because I have kids, so let's move that up also. I'll be able to watch the shows I want and get my kid to bed earlier; I'll just tell my kid he has to go to bed at eight o'clock because there is no nine o'clock anymore. I surmise he'll comply, because ten o'clock really does sounds late, especially to a kid.

Time seems rife for change. Just over the weekend, I was musing over the glacial pace of Fred Thompson's campaign schedule, his infrequent appearances last week giving new meaning to the word leisurely, even in Florida. It occurred to me that since glaciers are now melting at alarming rates, we need to retire that phrase from the lexicon and replace it with... what? I suggest a Bloombergian pace. As Michael Bloomberg stretches out his announcement on whether or not to run in a manner proving that his decision-making time frame is beholden to no one, a stance that only a gazillionaire can afford, he reminds us that though money can't buy you happiness, it can buy you time. This is also relative to whose shoes you are standing in, as the recent Congressional hearings with Gen. David Petraeus reminded us that neither time nor money have advanced our stated goals in Iraq. So while the Democrats rush to advance the selection of nominees, I suspect the Republicans wish they could turn the clock backward and slow down time, perhaps to the Bush I presidency.

Is this all too confusing? Well, perhaps that's the whole idea behind changing the primary schedule. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might suspect it's all a Republican scheme designed to insure a smaller voter turnout for the Democrats. I'll have to schedule some time to research this theory--maybe Thursday night at 9 pm?

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