Nineteen times in ten years. Nineteen is how many national emergencies have been enacted in the last ten years. Only three of those emergencies are no longer in effect. Now to many this might not seem like much of a problem to some people, however, when looking at the powers we can see a much more potent potential for tyranny. To quote Futurity.org those emergency powers are,
“…These powers span almost every conceivable subject area. … including powers to shut down communications facilities, freeze Americans’ bank accounts, and detail US troops to foreign countries.”
It later states that, “the president can declare a national emergency simply by signing his name to a proclamation, publishing it in the Federal Register, and transmitting it to Congress. The law does not define a national emergency or include any criteria for issuance.” This is a problem, any time something is left vague in laws, it can and probably will be abused to grant someone power.
Don’t believe me, very well here’s a simple phrase that can change meaning depending on whichever thing you focus on, “I didn’t say we should invite them.” If you focus on the word ‘I’ then it means that you weren’t the one saying they should be invited. Now look at the word ‘didn’t’; when emphasized means you never said that they should or shouldn’t. Do the same for the word ‘say’ which then means you implied it but never directly said it. Take the word ‘we’ and suddenly it means you were meaning someone else should invite them. Take ‘should’ and it means you don’t feel obligated to invite them. Take the word ‘invite’ and it means you were meaning you were meaning that we should do something different to them. Lastly take the word ‘them’ and it means you were saying we should invite someone else.
This seven word sentence takes on seven different meanings when looked at slightly differently. Now for the case of this word it probably doesn’t have much of an effect on other people’s lives. But imagine if a phrase like this was left in government, suddenly any politician can take it to mean anything they want and still be lawful because there isn’t any specification. In the case of natural emergencies there isn’t any real limit to the president’s power. The only real limit put in place is that congress can end a state of emergency with either the president signing it, or if they manage a two thirds vote. That said, congress has allowed nineteen national emergencies and the powers entailed to go on for ten consecutive years, how much more power are we willing to give away. After all, many of these ‘national emergencies’ weren’t actually a threat to the nation, they were simply means to get an agenda accomplished.
So next time you see a state of emergency declared in the nation, your state, or even in local government, ask yourself, is it really an emergency? I believe most politicians find this philosophy true, and it’s one we should be aware of, coming from the mouth of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.