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Sat Dec 26, 2020, 09:27 PM

Opinion: Trump's wrecking ball of a transition

This has been a disastrous lame duck period. Although there are always concerns about what may happen in the months between a presidential election and inauguration, the last few weeks have lived up to our worst expectations.

The transition period used to be even longer. Until the 20th Amendment was ratified in 1933, this gap lasted from early November until March 4, when Presidents were inaugurated. This four-month gap allowed Congress to count and report votes and gave the President-elect sufficient time to travel to the capital. But the problems that could arise during this time -- along with technological advances that cut down on travel time -- created pressure to shorten the window, especially after the infamous "Secession Winter" of 1860 left President-elect Abraham Lincoln powerless as several Southern states left the union to form the Confederacy.

The 20th Amendment moved Inauguration Day to January 20 (and set the start date for a new Congress on January 3). If the nation needed one last reminder of why the shift was necessary, they got it after the 1932 election, when President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt was unable to launch the New Deal for months amidst the deteriorating economic crisis of the Great Depression.

It turns out, however, that even two months is no guarantee of a smooth interregnum. President Donald Trump has managed to use his remaining time in office to act as a political wrecking ball while the country is still being ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.


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