Move up the date of Inauguration Day to avoid another miserable presidential transition in the future

The Constitution should be amended to shorten the presidential transition to just a single month.

SHARE Move up the date of Inauguration Day to avoid another miserable presidential transition in the future
Supporters Of President Trump Gather In D.C. To Protest Election Results

People gather in support of President Donald Trump and in protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential election at Freedom Plaza on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Thousands of protesters who refuse to accept that President-elect Joe Biden won the election.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The presidential inauguration has been moved up twice. George Washington took the first presidential oath on April 30, 1789. All subsequent inaugurations were moved up to March 4 to honor the date government operations began under the Constitution.

That worked well until the Great Depression election of 1932. The four-month interregnum nearly collapsed the country as outgoing president Herbert Hoover and incoming president Franklin D. Roosevelt were diametrically opposed on relief needed. Hoover wanted to ride out the Great Depression as “survival of the fittest,” ignoring the 10,000 bank failures that had America careening toward collapse.

FDR’s proposed governmental stimulus and relief horrified Hoover, who dismissed FDR as mentally and physically unfit for office. Hoover railed against his proposed new deal reforms as socialism, fascism and a “March to Moscow.”

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Recognizing the disastrous four-month stalemate, Congress and the states passed the 20th Amendment during FDR’s first year in office, moving up the presidential oath a second time to Jan. 20, shortening the presidential transition by six weeks.

Opinion Newsletter

The next 21 presidential transitions went smoothly — but not so this year. Once again, government is paralyzed in the face of economic crisis. But unlike 1932-33, this crisis is exacerbated by a pandemic and a treasonous attempt to overturn the election. The specter of violence by the losing side haunts the upcoming congressional election certification; even the inauguration itself.

Congress should propose a 28th Amendment early next month to shorten the current presidential transition of 10 weeks to a single month. The existential crisis we face has yet to play out. The result is potentially catastrophic. Reducing the wait until Inauguration Day a third time may be the charm needed to avoid a repeat of the worst presidential transition in U.S. history. 

No doubt the loser in 2020 will spend the rest of his life trying to undo the moderate progressives who usurped him. But unlike Hoover, at 74, Donald Trump won’t carry that on for three decades.

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn

Goodbye to 2020, and soon Donald Trump

As this year and the Donald Trump presidency near their joyfully anticipated close, I think about the arc of American history, from a first president who could tell no lies to one who cannot speak the truth to save his life.

In my mind’s eye, I picture a young Donald Trump, murdered cherry tree at his feet, with hatchet in hand and wood chips in his hair, pronouncing the whole thing fake news and trying to pin the blame on China, George Soros and the deep state.

Jan. 20, 2021 cannot come quickly enough.

Hugh Iglarsh, Skokie

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