Curbing the Lame Duck

FDR was the first President inaugurated on January 20… the first 146 years of our republic endured the unusually long four month “lame duck” period.  The only explanation for this Constitutional abnormality was convenience- 18th century travel times accounting for delays in governance.  Modern times exposed the limitations of the system- the Civil War and Great Depression stand as glaring examples of absence of leadership in times of crisis.  The 20th amendment, ratified in 1933, fixes this problem.

Coming next January 20th ?

Coming next January 20th ?

Moving the inauguration of both the President and Congress… does create an interesting political dilemma.  In the event of a Presidential contest being settled in the House of Representatives,  the 20th amendment places the duty in the hands of the incoming Congress, rather than the outgoing.  This provision has yet to be utilized, but the effects could further widen the partisan gap in this country.

President Burr?

President Burr?

A party sweep of an election cycle could tip the balance… in a Presidential contest too close to call in the Electoral College.  If these factors are considered in a prior example, like the election of 1800, the prospects are alarming.  Jefferson was chosen by a predominately Federalist Congress, which had been voted out of office.  The incoming Jeffersonian House could have easily been swayed to elect populist upstart, Aaron Burr.  Hamilton’s influence would have been rendered irrelevant.  “What if” history at its most terrifying.




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