Tag Archives: Emergency

David Davenport: Democracy Depends on Civic Virtue

Some say authoritarian governments are better able to manage a crisis like coronavirus than a democracy. But I say, not so fast.

The Founders wisely provided for emergency powers when needed, and both the president and governors have used these. We have institutions such as the Federal Reserve able to take quick action when needed.

But beyond that, our democracy depends on the virtue of the people. Benjamin Franklin stated what the founders understood when he said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

The jury is still out on whether people get this. We still have far too many people, especially young people, out and about, ignoring social distancing. People are still hoarding sanitizer, masks, and toilet paper.

Yes, we need everything medical science can bring to the table but, more than that, we need the American people to step up their sense of civic virtue.

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David Davenport: What a National Emergency Actually Means

Few Americans realize that they currently live under some 30 states of national emergency, the oldest declared by President Jimmy Carter during the Iran hostage crisis 40 years ago. Actual emergencies come and go but emergency declarations live on.

The primary effect of a national emergency is to shift power from Congress to the president, as President Trump wanted to build his wall. Along with executive orders and domestic policy wars on poverty, crime, drugs and terror, presidents since Lyndon Johnson have been moving power from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other.

But politically, it’s a two-edged sword. When presidents seek to do things unilaterally, these actions are easily canceled and replaced by the next president. Perhaps you recall how quickly President Trump undid President Obama’s executive orders.

One day Congress will wake up and notice its primary powers are lost.

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