Well that didn’t take long.
In January, right here in this space, I bemoaned President Trump using The National Emergency Provision to declare the situation at America’s southern border a crisis which allowed him to circumvent congress and divert funds to build a wall.https://radradio.com/robs-soapbox/build-the-wall-tear-up-the-constitution/
As I wrote at the time, my disgust was and is not with Trump’s position. We need a border wall and proper security and having to say so aloud makes me feel like I’m talking to 3rd graders.
The issue is the use of the Presidential Emergency Provision for something that is supposed to be debated amongst elected officials. As I said at the time, if we’re going to allow presidents to declare all disagreements over policy to be emergencies, then we are no longer a democratic Representative Republic; we are now a democratic Monarchy. We simply elect a new king or queen every 4 years.
I was concerned that the precedent had now been set and it would be used in vile and exponentially more scary ways moving forward, for that’s what history has taught us. On January 27, I wrote: “Imagine President Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or Beto O’ Rourke in 2021 on the heels of the next Las Vegas massacre and/or school shooting. If Trump changes the baseline of a national emergency to being a policy-debate-disagreement with the other side over how to solve a problem, you can bet that a national emergency over gun ownership will be declared. What about President Mike Pence? Planned Parenthood reported last week that it performed a record 332,757 abortions of the approximately 882,000 abortions that took place in the United States in the last year. That sounds to Pence like a national emergency over murdering babies.”
Lo and behold, we’re more than a year away from election day 2020 and the use of the National Emergency Provision has already been promised by more than a dozen Democrats running for the nomination as a way to ensure that their campaign agenda will be carried out, regardless of any other election results. It is mind-blowing to imagine how far we’ve fallen in such a short time.
A divided congress, relying on large majorities, has been the backstop to America falling over the political cliff. Such a system allows for the nation to stave off wildly far-right and left-wing agendas by demanding compromise, thus stopping ludicrous things that people scream “will never happen,” but would if it were up to just one person.
For example, Former Congressman Beto O Rourke, one of the 794 people hoping to run against Trump in 2020, last week announced in the Democratic Debate, “Hell yes we’re going to take your (guns),” referring to what he and others idiotically refer to as “assault weapons,” (which aren’t a thing). Up until January of this year, the common sense retort to that is “that will never happen,” based on the fact that congress would never allow anything remotely close to such a scenario to pass. Republicans, even if they were in a minority position, would use endless legislative tactics to kill such a bill before it started.
Thanks to Trump and his broadening of the Emergency Power Provision, “that will never happen,” has become “if you elect (insert name here), that will definitely happen.”
Both Beto O Rourke and Kamala Harris, with the full support of the student activists from the Parkland shooting, have announced they would declare guns a national emergency to immediately implement their gun confiscation plans. https://people.com/crime/parkland-students-unveil-plan-curb-gun-violence-public-health-emergency/
Bernie Sanders has made it clear that he would use the Presidential Emergency declaration to announce that there is a healthcare crisis in America, thus allowing him to, by fiat, implement Medicare for all as America’s Universal healthcare System.
Sanders, Warren, Harris, Tom Steyer, and Jay Inslee have all pledged to, on day one of their presidency, declare climate change as a national emergency, giving them the sole, universal power to begin shuttering the coal and fossil fuel industries (and presumably outlaw cows and airplane travel). https://www.msnbc.com/mtp-daily/watch/steyer-on-day-one-i-would-declare-a-national-emergency-on-climate-change-68196933922
In May, when Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, effectively banning them, she called on President Trump to use the National Emergency Provision to declare abortion in America a national health crisis and ban the practice nationwide. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2019/may/15/alabama-abortion-ban-bill-live-trump-news-today-protests-us-politics-latest-updates
Even Trump, himself, has decided, in typical Trump style, to double down on his own stupidity by announcing that he is considering declaring the ongoing disagreement with China over trade and tariffs a national emergency. Imagine that…From 9/11 eighteen years ago to the inability of a sitting president to negotiate a trade agreement; that is how far this nation has gone to redefine the word “emergency.” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/25/trump-on-us-china-trade-war-i-could-declare-a-national-emergency.html
Responding to any of these proclamations with various objections is not the point. Arguing that gun confiscation or an abortion ban would lead to civil war, or that the green new deal would destroy the economy isn’t relevant. It’s the mere fact that we’re having to go to such nuclear corners to have a discussion that should be terrifying.
So, I am taking my victory lap now, while I can. 14 months from election day, all possible candidates on both sides of the aisle have made it clear that we will be voting for a supreme ruler who will use the power of their signature to make anything and everything they want to happen, happen. All they have to do is say there’s an emergency. And in a nation that now embraces the mantra “sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will hurt forever,” I assume that free speech is days aware from being declared a national emergency.