National emergency?

fire.jpg

(Based on commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Servicos_emergencia.JPG, in public domain)

An honest commentator tries to speak truthfully, and call out inconsistent or troubling behavior, from any part of the political spectrum.   The latest bit in the news was that the US President, a Republican, declared a national emergency over funding a border wall.  Agree or disagree, it is troubling for the same reason that imperial dictates of any kind are generally not a good idea; if this is permitted, it will be far easier for someone down the line to take the opposite tack.

If a Democrat or Independent is elected President in 2020, many “national emergencies” could be declared – ones on health care, gun violence, climate change, reproductive or civil rights.   As much as the US system (or any other representative democracy) can be maddening at times, it is maddening in generally a peaceful way.   And if the current president is re-elected in 2020, this sort of ‘government by emergency’ has the echoes of other times in history which haven’t ended well.

The saddest part of these sorts of antics, is that yes, there may be real emergencies.   And yes, immediate action sometimes needs to be taken.   But if this kind path is taken too lightly, by any part of the political spectrum, you can wind up with situations far worse than the original problem; a true ‘from the frying pan into the fire’ situation.

Questions:

  • What should we define as a true national emergency?
  • Given that the definition of a national emergency might be tricky to do, what might make a check on emergency powers?  The US has the War Powers Act for when the President commits troops; perhaps an Emergency Powers Act will need to be drafted?

 

 

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