It’s official. The 117th Congress finally appears poised to agree on something.
Nearly evenly split—with the slightest of Democrat edges allowing Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to set the agenda—the current legislative body is operating without a clear mandate of any kind.
The cloud of coronavirus made efforts to interpret voters’ will in last year’s election impossible—and Democrats have fought tooth-and-nail, for some reason, to keep it that way by threatening retaliation against independent audits.
Nonetheless, they have pushed through controversial legislative nonstarters like it was 1981—but with them on the receiving end of the Reagan Revolution’s historic landslide victory.
And when faced with the slightest bit of recoil—such as senators (who remember that Republicans controlled everything just four years ago) not wanting to end the filibuster—the radical Left has elevated the rhetoric to unheard-of levels, smearing their own party members, such as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in reprehensible terms.
But that was then. On Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill, by unanimous consent, to give themselves—and all federal workers—another (taxpayer) paid holiday.
S.Res. 269 by @JohnCornyn passed yesterday. A resolution designating June 19, 2021, as “Juneteenth Independence Day” in recognition of June 19, 1865, the date on which news of the end of slavery reached the slaves in the Southwestern States. https://t.co/GlNdISKgPj 🏛️
— GovTrack.🇺🇸 (@govtrack) June 16, 2021
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., of Green New Deal notoriety, newly emboldened after being primaried last year by a Kennedy and having won by running to the left of him.
The bipartisan bill included the usual cast of extreme progressives and RINO Republicans (e.g. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio).
But it also received a few surprise cosponsors from the conservative side of the aisle, including Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Kevin Cramer, R-ND; Cindy Hyde–Smith, R-Miss.; Tim Scott, R-SC; and John Cornyn, R-Texas.
Happy that my bill to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday just passed the Senate. It has been a state holiday in Texas for more than 40 years. Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history and continue to form a more perfect union. https://t.co/EpcJCUmfmn
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) June 15, 2021
One of the few to voice concerns over the feel-good vote was Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., who noted, among other things, that federal holidays don’t come cheap.
“A new federal holiday, by the way, costs approximately $600 million dollars, at least,” Johnson told WTAQ last July, when the proposal first came to the table. “We should at least have a discussion and a vote, not just pass this by unanimous consent.”
Johnson proposed swapping out Juneteenth for the archaic and controversial Columbus Day, which many radical, blue regions—under the influence of too much Howard Zinn—now refuse to recognize for its intended purpose, instead observing Indigenous People’s Day.
“If you want to celebrate the emancipation of slaves with a paid day off for federal workers, we ought to look at our other 10 federal holidays and remove one of them,” Johnson said.
But Johnson dropped his objection on Tuesday, issuing the following statement: “While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter.”
It isn’t that celebrating the official end of slavery is inherently objectionable, of course. But that’s sort of the point. Why this, and why now?
Although Cornyn noted that Juneteenth has long been celebrated at the state level in Texas, the holiday-to-be was, at best, a historical footnote prior to a few years ago.
Officially, the date marks June 19, 1865, the moment when news finally reached Texas that slaves had been freed following the surrender of the Confederate Army.
Sadly, former Republican president Abraham Lincoln, who had issued the Emancipation Proclamation nearly three years earlier and had put it into effect on Jan. 1, 1863, was not around to bear witness to the joyful news. He, himself, had been assassinated two months before the first Juneteenth.
Thus, the holiday appears to be a testament, above all else, to the immense progress that America has made in the area of telecommunications over the past century and a half.
More nebulous, though, is what the rather arbitrary occasion represents to the broader purpose of national cohesion and racial progress.
Following more than a year of cancel-culture affronts, race riots, and the perversion of both politics and jurisprudence in the name of “social justice,” a cynic might think that this latest exercise in placation and virtue-signaling marks not a jubilant milestone but a sinister one in the coordinated revising of our national values and history.
Logistically speaking, it is sort of a free-for-all. While there are some localized and regional customs, there do not appear to be any universal traditions formally associated with the celebration of Juneteenth. Events range from parades and music festivals, to reenactments and oral histories, to moments of silent commemoration. It sounds a whole lot like the month of February.
But unlike other black-centric holidays and annual occasions—including the federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day passed during the Reagan administration—it does not land during the school year, when it can readily present a teachable moment.
The march toward separate (but equal) independence days echoes the NFL’s announcement last year that it planned to play the so-called black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice,” prior to the official national anthem, while still permitting activist players to boycott the latter.
It also comes as black ambivalence toward the Fourth of July is being unnaturally spliced, like a gain-of-function experiment, into the most patriotic American holiday.
On one hand, that includes earnest readings of abolitionist scholar Frederick Douglass‘s 1852 address “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro“—a polemic that condemns and contextualizes the barbarity of slavery, but ultimately reaffirms the country’s founding principles and offers a ray of hope.
On the other end of the spectrum, it includes the unabashed anti-American attacks of race-hustler Colin Kaepernick—a privileged, mixed-race, former NFL quarterback of anthem-kneeling and Nike-peddling notoriety.
In short, the push to designate a de-facto replacement holiday for those who disdain the history and values reflected by July 4 somewhat defeats the purpose of having a national holiday to begin with.
It is a reflection of our mass capitulation to a sort of cultural entropy—a move borne out of so great a desperation to find increasingly elusive common-ground that the only thing elected officials could agree upon is our lack of any shared, fundamental principles.
“I have no problem with expanding the knowledge and awareness of Juneteenth on a national level,” said member Marie Fischer in a recent press release.
“In fact, it is surprising the number of black Americans—let alone all Americans—who are not yet aware of it,” she continued. “But to make this a federal holiday is not something I feel is in the best interests of the country, especially now.”
Fischer noted that the absence of a defined purpose for designating the holiday would, undoubtedly, come back to plague it in a politically-charged climate where the exploitation of racial animus is a top cultural driver.
“I constantly hear everyone taking about unity, but would a federal holiday end up being a unifier? Or would it give fuel to those who support critical race theory by pointing out a day that marks one group as an oppressor and another as the oppressed?” she asked.
“Such a holiday could be easily hijacked by those who insist that blacks only advance when it benefits white elites,” Fischer continued. “Nothing seems to get pushed these days unless it fits a specific narrative.”