The Presidential Transition - The Intrepid

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Presidential Transition

Bush and Obama in the Rose Garden
Like so many other American institutions, the time between the election of a President and their inauguration is another check on the system. While many Americans feel that the transition period is too long—Democrats especially—the period gives the incoming President the necessary time to choose their cabinet and get a feel for the role.

In the early days of the United States, the transition period was even longer. Presidents didn’t take office until March 4, in order to give the Electoral College the time to assemble and vote. In the era of the stagecoach, it could take months to cross the country.

In 1932, Inauguration Day was finally changed with the passage of the 20th Amendment. Now, the incoming President takes office on January 20th. But, don’t expect Inauguration Day to be moved up again anytime some.

Despite a few difficult periods—the Civil War and the Great Depression come to mind—Americans generally like the symbolic implications of the transition period. The period generally makes the government look stable and at times even lends itself to bipartisan activity.