The last two weeks has seen the United States in a social, political, cultural, and symbolic mess all related to one of its most basic structural features; the transfer of power from one elected leader to another. In theory it is a clear process, and one of the features of our system of government of which we are most proud. In theory, our Presidential elections and subsequent inaugural proceedings map out a way for power to be transferred from one elected person to another without a revolution, war, or break-up of the nation. This year, though, that seemed to be in doubt. There was an attack on the US Capitol building and an attempt to overturn certified election results of the November Presidential election. It was scary and shocking to many-it seemed like something out of a movie. But Joe Biden and Kamala Harris did take their oaths of office on January 20th as scheduled, and the nation breathed a deep sigh of relief. It seemed that the process had worked after all. But if we look a little more deeply at the history of inaugurations, there are some strange aspects of the American system of Executive Succession, and they may have unintentionally played a role in the uprising.
That peaceful change of power worked, but there were still a couple of wrinkles in the process. According to the Constitution, elections for President take place every four years in November. The Electoral College then meets in December after the general election to actually elect the President. (Hopefully you remember this from elementary of junior high school) Then the House of Representatives and the Senate have to each certify the Electoral College results. So originally, the new President’s term of office could not start until March of the next year. Also, when the Constitution was being written being a Congressman was not considered a full-time job-Congressmen were farmers or business people, and they had regular things to attend to. So a new Congress also would not convene until the next year. What this meant was that there was a considerable period of time in which a new President and and a new Congress would have been elected, but the previous President and previous Congress were still in power. That time lag, or “lame duck status,” could become a real problem. Why, if we were in the midst of a real crisis, should we have to wait some 4 months for a new President and Congress to take action? What if there is a war? An economic collapse? A huge natural disaster? What then?
One of my favorite musicians, tuba and baritone sax master Howard Johnson, died on January 11. An incredibly innovative and original musician, Howard played live and on record with such amazing people as Charles Mingus, The Band, Taj Mahal, Mc Coy Tyner, and many, many more. He also led several great groups including the original Saturday Night Live Band, Gravity, and The Substructure. He is undoubtedly the brains and breath behind many of the horn sections found on some of your favorite music. Here is an interview with him: Enjoy.
The Dukes on YouTube
We have posted few videos on YouTube. Please log in, view our videos, and leave a comment or two. Tell your friends to view us and post comments as well. Thanks:
Just a Little Bit https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=d8iFNlDPM_c
Higher Ground https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=baSmjnQFvXg