The current national experience with this terrible Chinese-originating virus is doing one powerful thing: it is wakening the sleeping giant that lies at the heart of being American! Not only are we seeing the very best of America – the first responders, the essential service providers, those helping others less fortunate than themselves and the innovators finding ways to bring aid and comfort to those in distress – we are also seeing the worst, the petty tyrants, the over-reaching politicians and the partisan swamp dwellers and media hacks who try and take advantage of a deadly crisis.
Perhaps the most important consequence is that so many people are now aware of some of the major threats to our way of life and our nation, foreign and domestic. China is no longer viewed as just a benign source of cheap goods and the Chinese Communist Party is exposed as the tyrannical, greedy and dangerous threat to the entire world it has grown into. The US is now politically set to take actions both to limit any future damage or threat from China and to take any necessary actions to limit, curb or prevent their ambitious expansion of influence and power.
At the same time our internal political dynamic is undergoing something of a sea change. The swell of opposition to government imposed restrictions of citizen rights guaranteed under the Constitution has grown large. Challenges to the power of elected officials are numerous and growing fast, thanks to so many examples of over-reach and lack of restraint at almost every level of officialdom. And at long last the prior actions of legislators who wrote draconian emergency power laws are being scrutinized, thanks to the consequences of those laws being enacted.
This last is perhaps the most important action to arise from the current national health emergency. It is undoubtedly a good thing that there is now healthy debate on limits of government. One example of such bad law (and by no means the only one) comes from Illinois where the legislature has granted unconstitutional emergency power to their Governor “to acquire full title… in, any personal property as may be necessary… and to take possession of… any real estate necessary…” Albeit that there are limitations on these powers, the ability to effectively confiscate personal property and/or real estate without notice is tyrannical.
Sure, such legislation is well-intentioned and designed merely to provide the Governor with the maximum ability to react in a crisis. However the unintended consequences of trying to allow such discretion are to grant the powers of a dictator to an elected official and, as we are seeing during the current crisis, not all elected officials (or their subordinates, exercising such powers on behalf of their superiors) can handle such power well.
Some might argue that such measures might, under some crisis or disaster scenarios, be necessary. Well the Republic has an answer for that: if an individual feels so strongly that they need to act in such a manner for the common good, they can take such action and then the consequences. At State and subordinate political subdivision levels, this would result in either criminal or, more likely, civil legal action. In other words they can and should be hauled into court to defend their actions, after the event. It is for just such cases that the judges and juries can provide discretion on behalf of their fellow citizens either to punish or admonish or exonerate.
An alternative scenario would have the Governor requesting the emergency assistance of property owners. Most Americans grasp the need for rapid, sometimes drastic, action in dealing with emergencies. Those of us with faith in the American people and the American way know that the vast majority of citizens would not only be willing to help, but to go the extra mile, bringing innovation, local expertise and effort to achieving a common goal. This needs no legislation, merely a faith in Americans which those who vote or move to impose such laws do not appear to possess. – perhaps a sign that they were not a good choice to cast a vote for?
We have a social and judicial system which has worked for nearly 250 years, and worked well. One of the unintended consequences of well-intentioned but misguided legislators trying to pass laws to help their fellow citizens is their passage of laws which actually reduce freedoms (most laws do). This reduction in freedoms (through lack of faith in ordinary American citizens) may have reached a critical point requiring action, just as China has now demonstrated we must act to reduce the threat they now clearly present.
Some good will come out of this coronavirus emergency. We can reduce our dependence on Chinese goods and increase our vigilance against their imperial ambitions. More importantly, we can start a popular review of the powers we have allowed politicians to accrue.
Wake up America, citizens arise! Vote with your wallets (buy American made) and vote at the polling stations for people who will reduce regulation and repeal unconstitutional grants of power to those in authority.