Using hard-coded dates in Equations

I would like to use hard coded dates in an equation field and am running into issues. For example, I would like to do this:

If the date is before (or equal to) December 31, 2018, i want to return a 1, otherwise i want it to check if the date is greater than (or equal to) April 20, 2019, if that is true, return a 3. If neither case is true, return a 2. Example syntax below:

{Date} <= 12/31/2018 ? 1 : ({Date} >= 04/20/2019 ? 3 : 2)

The above syntax is just returning a 3 for all cases as it's taking my date_time field and making it a 2. I've looked at the date equations but nothing seems to be useful in this case. Am i going to have to create some variables to point to the date instead of hard coding dates into the equation?

Thanks for any help in advance!

Thanks Tim! Didn't realize there were so many logic options for dates in the conditional rules field!!!

You can hard code the dates too. I just picked before today, today, after today, for ease in the example.

Could you use a multiple choice field and conditional values. See these conditional rules which results in 1, 2, 3