Lame duck is a slang term that was originally used to refer to investors who were unable to repay their loans, but in the United States, for the past 100 years, "lame duck" has been used to refer to weakly retired politicians, especially associated with outgoing presidents. The "lame duck" phenomenon also has an anniversary in the US. February 6 every year is called Lame Duck Day, a time to recognize and evaluate the performance of a public servant who has finished his duties.
Although it may sound weak, politicians in the "lame duck" era were not always helpless or meek and harmless. No longer feeling indebted to the voters because their terms are nearing the end of their term, these officials often use their positions to go against the wishes of the voters. To prevent this situation, the US passed the 20th Amendment to the constitution called the Lame duck Amendment. This amendment, passed in 1993, reduced the period between Election Day and the start of new presidential and congressional terms. The inauguration of the president and vice president was changed from March 4 to January 20. While the parliament will convene on January 3 instead of March 4.
History of Lame Duck Day
Lame Duck Day is celebrated on February 6 because this is the time when the 20th Amendment was passed.
Before the 20th Amendment was passed in 1933, the new members of the National Assembly would have to wait 13 months before the first convening session of the parliament. This is the period that is considered the transition of power from one party to another. Outgoing MPs have 13 months in office after losing an election.
There are times when the old parliament has too many MPs who are not re-elected for the next session, causing the whole body to be considered a "lame duck". Although "crippled", but with 13 months in hand, this is too much time for "lame duck" MPs to do things that new MPs will not do. In other words, the outgoing parliament can do more "tricks" than the previous normal period. For example, they could impeach the president, as was the case in 1998, just before the Democrats regained control of the House. Outgoing Republicans in the House of Representatives have demanded the impeachment of Democratic President Bill Clinton, who is nearing the end of his second term on charges of perjury and obstructing an investigation into a sex scandal with his Trainee Monica Lewinsky.
In that context, the House of Representatives passed a statement of impeachment against Mr. Clinton, but this statement could not make it through the Senate stage before January 3 - when the new Congress officially started. Therefore, the statement of impeachment against President Clinton is questioned as to its legitimacy. Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman, when testifying before a congressional committee on the matter, said: "The impeachment statement by a retired House of Representatives is even less important than a normally passed bill by this House".
In addition to preventing "lame duck" congressmen from using tricks the rest of the time, the 20th Amendment was also passed to prevent a repeat of what happened in election in the 1876 , presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden won by popular vote. But neither he nor his rival, Rutherford B. Hayes, won the majority of the votes of the electors who would actually elect the president of the United States. The number of electoral votes won by two candidates is equal in some states. As a result, the two parties slammed the other for cheating in the presidential election. Republicans say Democrats bully voters of color, Democrats accuse Republicans of election fraud.
To end this stalemate, the US Congress at that time took a step that was never enshrined in the constitution. It forms a 15-member bicameral committee of Supreme Court justices, representatives and senators. Of these, seven are Democrats and eight are Republicans. The outcome would be anyone's guess if they knew Mr. Hayes was the Republican candidate. Mr. Hayes was declared the new US president just 56 hours before his inauguration on March 4, 1877.
At that time, in the absence of the 20th Amendment, members of parliament, frustrated by not being re-elected, could have used their remaining power to choose a president against the will of the voters they chose who no longer represented by them. It is worth noting that Mr. Tilden is the winner if universal suffrage is counted.
If the case of the 1876 election were to repeat itself, under the current US Constitution, the House of Representatives would be the body to choose the next president. MPs in the same state will have one vote and the presidential vote in the House of Representatives will be held on January 6, which is 3 days after the new House of Representatives takes office.
However, in the US, the slang word "lame duck" is more associated with the president than the congressman. For this position, the "lame duck" period is the last five months of their final term because they are not re-elected or they cannot run again. Usually, this slang term is used to refer to presidents who have served two terms and are at the end of a second term, like current President Barack Obama. While every president wants to end his term with pride, not everyone can.
Observing the Lame Duck Day
To celebrate Lame Duck Day, take the time to find out if the politicians you've nominated to represent you in your near term end are doing the right things for them were expected, in line with what they had stated before taking office. Share the story you learn with the hashtag #LameDuckDay.
ObservedLame Duck Day has been observed annually on February 6th.
Thursday, February 6th, 2020
Saturday, February 6th, 2021
Sunday, February 6th, 2022
Monday, February 6th, 2023
Tuesday, February 6th, 2024