Dear Kid,

Once upon a time (by which I mean in England in the 1700s which is before even your grandfather was born) the term “lame duck” referred to stock brokers who couldn’t pay their debts. I don’t know why. Those British, you know.

Then the term carried over to people (in those days, men) who were completely bankrupt but would continue to do business.

You want me to fly with crutches? I think not. Lame duck, my ass. Happy National Lame Duck Day. DearKidLoveMom.comBack in the Old Days (and by “old days” I mean before hashtags were invented) of the United States, there were 13 months (count ‘em—over a year) from the time a congressperson (man, in those days) was elected until the time he took office. Which meant a long time during which he was neither campaigning nor particularly beholden to his constituency. This time was called a lame duck session of congress.

On the plus side, this meant that congressmen could get on with the business of governing. On the downside, it meant that many people (men, mostly) considered that these folks didn’t have any real power since they’d been booted out of their jobs.

An awful lot of people are confused as to just what is meant by a lame duck Congress. It’s like where some fellows worked for you and their work wasn’t satisfactory and you let ’em out, but after you fired ’em, you let ’em stay long enough so they could burn your house down.  – Will Rogers

So back in the 1930s (also a long time ago), people decided that 13 months was just waaaay too long. And they decided to pass the 20th Amendment to the Constitution to shorten the “lame duck” period from 13 months to 2 months. Which meant the waterfowl didn’t need crutches for nearly as long.

The Amendment was passed by Congress (not during a lame duck session) on March 2, 1932 and ratified on January 23, 1933. So why am I talking about it today? Because it was Proclaimed by the United States Secretary of State on February 6, 1933 and February 6th was therefore chose as National Lame Duck Day.

Which is pretty lame if you ask me.

Love, Mom