To The Courier-Post:

As the end of 2020 approaches, a year like no other, Americans are pondering Donald Trump’s lame-duck period (between the election and successor’s inauguration). March 4 was the date “for commencing proceedings,” until the 20th Amendment (aka Lame Duck Amendment), ratified in 1935, shifted inaugurations to January.

History confirms lame ducks leave positive or negative imprints. Bound by few constraints, they construct their legacy by actions or inactions, such as executive orders and pardons.

The sympathetic portrayal of Herbert Hoover in “An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times” (2017) offered this character assessment of Hoover who thwarted his successor’s, Franklin Roosevelt’s, tendency towards statism, promises of hope, and assistance for the needy: “He was determined to succeed by any means necessary, subordinating questions of right or wrong to the good of his career.” Hoover’s 146-day lame-duck period left scars — high unemployment and widespread poverty (e.g., Hoovervilles).

President Trump’s legacy will be determined by the totality of his presidency. However, he will be remembered, primarily, for his handling of a cataclysmic event (COVID-19) and his lame-duck period. What will the actions, or inactions, of the 45th president be as a lame duck? We will see.

John C. Schafer


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