Even a lame-duck president can be affected by a clear midterm message if he wants to see his vice president elected and preserve his historical legacy.
– Noah Feldman
We’ve all heard someone referred to as a Lame Duck, but the original meaning of this phrase is often lost. Lame Duck is a term used to describe an elected official who is no longer responsible to his constituency, usually due to the fact that he’s on his way out of office and reelection is no longer a possibility.
History of Lame Duck Day
Lame Duck Day celebrates the ratification of the 20th amendment of the United States, an amendment added to shorten the time that the President, Senators, and Representatives spent in office after an election. During this time, especially if the representative was not reelected or is no longer eligible for reelection, they no longer have to concern themselves with the desires of their constituency. While this only happens during certain small sections of time, significant decisions have been made during this period. What kinds of things? Homeland Security is one of the biggest results of a lame duck congress meeting, but there have also been wars started and a president impeached, all under the auspices of a lame-duck session.
Where did the term come from? In the 1700’s a Lame-Duck was used to describe those stock brokers who had gauged their investments badly and could no longer pay off their debts. Later, it was extended to include unethical business-men who would find themselves bankrupted, and continue to do business anyway, even though they had no money to pay employees or suppliers. The term has now been extended to include the representatives listed above, and to describe those sessions where the people in session are no longer beholden to those people who elected them.
How to celebrate Lame Duck Day
Lame Duck Day is best celebrated by researching the history of those people you support politically, and find out just how accountable they really are to their constituents. Have they consistently voted their conscience in the past, have they worked to promote the things they were elected to support? It is especially important to pay attention to that period following a re-election, a choice to retire, or when their office has been eliminated, it’s this time period where they will most clearly show their true colors. If they remained true to their principles during this time period (their professed principles, odds are good that they’ll stay true to their constituents when the hammer comes down.