Friday, November 28, 2008

Insert your own electoral college joke here...

electoral college.jpg
The above image was created by ChrisnHouston. I am reusing the image in a manner consistent with his Creative Commons license and am attributing it as best I can although this screen name is the only name he provides with the work.

There was a short but interesting article on the NPR website about when we inaugurate our presidents. The article suggested moving the inauguration up to November 10th.

Let's break this down one piece at a time.

No easy feat...
The article states that Congress moved up the date in the 1930's to January 20th. The article fails to mention that the means by which this date was changed was by Constitutional amendment. I'm not going to explain the process. If you can read this, you can read the link. Let's summarize by saying it isn't an accident that there has only been 27 amendments in 200+ years of history.

It was the 20th Amendment that changed inauguration day from March 4th to January 20th. Virginia was the first state to ratify the amendment on March 4th, 1932. It finally received the required number of states to become law on January 23th, 1933 (nine short months later) when Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah ratified.

That pesky electoral college...
The simple fact of the matter is that Barack Obama hasn't been elected president yet. Americans don't vote for our president, we vote for electors. It is then the electoral college which votes for the president. I mention this not because I think the electoral college is going to do something stupid and vote for someone else. I mention this because the electoral college typically meets in December. Obama could not be sworn in on November 10th under any circumstances. He has not quite yet been elected president. The theoretical amendment that moves up inauguration day could abolish the electoral college. It has been proposed before.

Bah humbug...
Even if the electoral college were deep sixed, there is such a thing as too soon. A new president should have post election time to prepare to assume office. Not all candidates have Obama's advantage of being a shoe-in allowing him free time prior to November 4th to prepare for his ascension to the presidency. I don't know what a reasonable amount of time would be but I suspect that it would end no sooner than December 1st. Now we're coming up on Eid al-Adha, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Does anybody really want to try and pull of an inauguration during the silly season? I know a lot of people do. It doesn't make it a good idea.

The Point of Not Worth It...
If the inauguration is going to be pushed into Jauary, then it's time to take a good, hard look at what date is being considered and if the effort is worth a Constitutional amendment.

If we are going to change the inauguration date, it's too late for this one. By the time we get a 28th amendment, even under the best of circumstances, the Obama's new puppy will be well White House broken and probably wouldn't be a puppy anymore.

One more thing: Please, please, please don't be stupid about it. I am hoping that there is just enough group intelligence left in Washington to not go through this entire process just to move the inauguration up to January 12th.

Who am I kidding. Let's hope the ratification process is interesting and instructive.

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