Obscure Holiday: Lame Duck Day

February 2, 2024

We’ve all had times when were in a position but it’s clear that our time is up. Whether it’s at our jobs after giving a two-week notice or being Worshipful Master after the election of our successor, there are times in life when we technically hold the title but are a “lame duck” waiting to move on. Next Tuesday, February 6 is just the obscure holiday for us, lame duck day!

Lame duck is often associated with politics to describe an office holder on their way out. Despite this, the term doesn’t originate in politics, instead, it was coined in economics as a third option to the bull and bear dichotomy. An example of a presidential lame duck was President Obama. After his 2012 reelection, he couldn’t run for office again so he was already on the way out, though it’d be more accurate to say he was in 2016 with the election looming. Especially after the death of Justice Scalia when Senate Republicans refused to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, everyone had the feeling that he couldn’t do anything with the rest of his term and that he was merely holding the seat for someone else.

The holiday most likely refers to the original day for Congress to count the Electoral College, which is the ceremonial joint session to confirm the Presidential Election. Before the Twentieth Amendment Presidential Terms started on March 4, with Congress meeting the second Wednesday to count the ballots. Keep in mind that elections were still on the Tuesday of the first full week in November so the lame duck session lasted about four months.

Not only was this period long, Congress itself can also be in lame duck status. Article I Section 4 required Congress to meet yearly on the first Monday in December so every two years Congress has to return to Washington, D.C. after the elections but months before the just elected Congress took office.

When the country faced a crisis this long period created a mess, to say the least. The most notable lame-duck period came after the election of Lincoln in 1860. Seven states had already succeeded before he even took office and the first shots of the Civil War occurred two months before on January 9, 1861. To avoid the mess, President Wilson created a contingency where if he lost in 1916 he would appoint Hughes to Secretary of State then he and Vice President Marshall would resign so Hughes would be acting president until his inauguration. Thankfully this messy plan didn’t come to pass.

On March 2, 1932, Congress had had enough so they passed an amendment to reduce all the lame duck periods. In less than a year, the Twentieth Amendment was ratified by 36 states and became part of the Constitution, setting January 20 as the Presidential inauguration date and January 3 as the annual meeting of Congress.

Though it is associated with politics, Lame Duck Day is a holiday for everyone to sit back, relax, and let the next guy handle it.

Share this on:

Search Article
Subscribe to be notified

Enter your email to be notified of the latest news.

The Rite Times

Related Links

Copyright All Rights Reserved © 2023