Amendment XX to the U.S. Constitution changed the end of the President’s term of office from March 4 to January 20. Ratified in 1933, it recognized that times had changed, that a four-month presidential transition was no longer necessary, and that it exposed the U.S. to a dangerously long period of lame-duck governance.
One has only to live in the U.S. today to realize it’s time again to shorten the transition period. We are facing a perilous economic situation in which a week or even a day can mean huge, unexpected change. We are fighting two wars against an enemy sworn to destroy us, and he too realizes we are in an extremely vulnerable position.
George W. Bush will be our President until January 20, 2009, and we know his elected successor is Barack Obama. Bush, however, was never a very effective leader and rightly or wrongly is being blamed for a lot of the current economic problems. He has become irrelevant, partly because he seems to have removed himself from the spotlight and partly because the nation and the world are looking past him to Obama — who is essentially powerless until he takes the oath of office.
Basically we have no one in charge, no one minding the store. Bush has already packed his bags, but Obama can’t move in yet. The world’s most powerful nation is essentially leaderless. It’s unnerving, to say the least, and demands our current law be revisited and revised.
On Election Day, we “fire” our sitting President. From that day forward he or she is on the way out and knows it. And like any fired employee in a sensitive position, the President’s keys should be taken immediately and the President escorted from the building. No more laws signed, no more agreements or treaties enacted or suspended, no pardons, no secret deals, no nothing. The new President should be sworn in immediately, or at least as soon as all the votes can be counted. A week, maybe. No more two-month-long period of limbo when all sorts of mischief or mayhem could befall this country.
A twenty-eighth amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s time.