The recent criticisms of President Trump’s press conference Sunday, in which he noted that the “federal government is following the lead of the states” is foretelling of a threat far greater than the one the nation faces with the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a free democratic republic we should fear, not plea for, centralized government control. We need only look to China for an example of the damages and threat this can lead to for our country.
Vice President Pence, himself the former Indiana governor, confirmed the President’s perspective stating, “that is the way our system works. It’s extremely important that the American people recognize that one of the things that makes America different is that we have a system of federalism…….it is locally executed, state managed and federally supported.”
While we see the current COVID-19 epidemic as a significant threat to our country, it is one that will soon be eliminated as a result of the talent in our scientific community. Unfortunately, this disease has ignited a greater menace that will destroy our country. Out of fear our nation is relinquishing its freedoms and deserting its public duties and instead relying on government control.
What the president and vice president are confirming is that our government derives its powers from the governed - the people. This country and its governmental structures are designed on the concept that we, the governed, have the authority and therefore should provide the leadership for actions to be taken. We should not relinquish that responsibility or duty.
Not only did the President’s remarks support the concept of a democratic republic but they also promoted a common sense approach to finding a solution. As the vice president explained, “We want the people on the ground- the decision makers- to have what they need. We want the states to be able to manage the unique circumstances in their states.”
Each state is experiencing the current pandemic differently, thereby justifying different responses based on the services available and the needs identified. Just as it is erroneous the think “one size fits all,” likewise one action does not fit all circumstances. Solutions must fit the circumstances in each state and the various communities within each state.
Granted, as the local government units get smaller, such as at the state and county level, there is a need for a common approach that assures continuity of controls within a certain geography. Recent decisions in the state are an example of how federalism works. Governor Cooper has closed all state schools, restricted certain business operations and crowd sizes. In the process he is funneling resources to those counties, towns and communities based on specific needs.
Carteret County likewise must be prepared to standardize the policies which are currently being introduced in a haphazard fashion. The county’s 11 towns have initiated various levels of public controls, again based on their needs and concerns. The lack of a common action is beginning to create confusion which only amplifies fears and creates doubts about leadership. But this can and will soon be addressed as the county mayors and commissioners gain more knowledge about the disease.
The president is right in stating that the federal government will rely on the leadership of the state leaders. But so too is the vice president when he notes that we “must recognize” our duty and responsibilities to lead rather than to relinquish our freedoms to big government out of fear.
The epidemic will soon be history. The question that should concern us is, will our democratic republic based on the very federalism noted by the vice president still be with us or will it too be relegated to history?