We’ve all heard the story of the young wife cooking her first holiday meal for her family. When she’s preparing the ham for the oven, she cuts both ends off. When her husband asks her, “why?” she replies, “because that’s the way we’ve always done it!”
There’s been a lot of talk lately as to why the inauguration is 11 weeks after the election. Unfortunately, to get the answer, you have to ask a ham – because that’s the way we’ve always done it. Or, is it?
The Congress of the Confederation set the first inauguration for March, almost five months after the election. Remember, this was the 1780’s and counting votes could take a while. Then, once elected, it could take the newly elected representatives weeks to travel to New York to take office. It made sense, back then.
By 1933 the powers that be decided that technology had advanced enough to move the inauguration closer, all the way up to January. It still took a while to count votes, but at least they had airplanes to get to Washington D.C.
So, why is it the greatest country on earth still takes so long to inaugurate a new President? Some say it’s to give the incoming party time to organize their cabinet and advisors. Although, in England the new PM takes office the day following their election.
As our young wife finds out after asking her mother, then grandmother, then great-grandmother why they’ve always done it that way, it turns out the great-grandmother’s baking pan was too small so she had to cut the ends of the ham off.
By not keeping up with technology and eliminating a treacherous lame-duck session (look up the election of 1860) aren’t we cutting ourselves short?