Up & Coming Weekly

April 28, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

Issue link: http://www.epageflip.net/i/1241838

Contents of this Issue


Page 6 of 24

6 UCW APRIL 29-MAY 5, 2020 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM OPINION America's practice of politics: An existential threat by KARL MERRITT Column Gist: e way politics is practiced in America threatens the survival of our nation. Without a doubt, the American form of government has proved to be amazingly effective. e measure of that effectiveness shows in what the nation ac- complished in a relatively short period. e political component, as designed, is an asset to our form of government. A Google search yields this definition of politics: "…the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or con- flict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power." Our problem is that the current practice of politics is an existential threat to this nation. It seems that "existential" shows up everywhere now. From grammarist.com, "An existential threat is a threat to something's survival." e indicators as to how the practice of politics, not the system as designed, threat- ens our survival as a nation, are present in abundance. However, how most politicians are responding to the horrendous challenge of COVID-19 lays bare the existential threat posed by America's current practice of politics. In the big picture, governors of many states, members of the House and Senate, mayors and liberal media personalities are railing against the Trump administra- tion for allegedly not providing, in a timely fashion, suf- ficient ventilators, personal protective gear, virus testing capability and other actions needed by states to combat COVID-19. All of these entities and individuals pres- ent their outrage with total conviction that the federal government has a responsibility to provide these items, and other actions, in support of a health threat. Further, they have citizens — voters — convinced that doing all of this is a federal responsibility and, therefore, any failure to deliver can and should be blamed on Presi- dent Donald J. Trump. None of these people bother to tell the American public that health care is not a federal responsibility under the United States Constitution. I contend that this refusal to tell the people the "real story"— when doing so works against one's political security and advancement — is the political norm in America. is political practice sets us up for exactly what we are experiencing in America: division, distrust, back-stabbing and far less effectiveness than should be the case. e truth is that, under the Constitution, individual states are responsible for health care in their state. In a federal system, as in the United States, the states and federal government have some powers that are held by one, but not the other. en there are concurrent powers that are held by both states and the federal gov- ernment. Article I, Section 8 details the powers of the federal government. ere is no mention of health care or any broader category that would include it. e 10th Amendment to the Constitution states: "e powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Again, health care is the responsibility of states … not the federal government. A bit of looking back shows that states being re- sponsible for health care was understood and applied. Following is from a research article titled, "e Role of State and Local Government in Health" by Drew E. Alt- man and Douglas H. Morgan: State and local government involvement in pub- lic health began with the great epidemics of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. e first of these, the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, struck in 1793, and epidemics of cholera, small pox, and yellow fever were frequent occurrences over the next fifty years. Initially, the government responded to these epidemics by instituting quarantine measures and ef- forts to improve community sanitation. Generally, these were directed by physicians appointed by the city or state government. Note that the yellow fever plague mentioned above occurred after the U.S. Constitution had been ratified on June 21, 1788. e event was addressed by state and local governments. Far more recently, an effort by Michael Bloomberg, while serving as mayor of New York, points to his un- derstanding of local and state responsibility for health care. e following segments from an article by Justin Elliott, Annie Waldman and Joshua Kaplan titled, "How New York City's Emergency Ventilator Stockpile Ended Up on the Auction Block" summarize what happened: In July 2006, with an aggressive and novel strain of the flu circulating in Asia and the Middle East, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a sweeping pandemic preparedness plan. Using computer models to calculate how a disease could spread rapidly through the city's five boroughs, experts concluded New York needed a substantial stockpile of both masks and ventilators. If the city con- fronted a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 Spanish flu, the experts found, it would face a "projected shortfall of between 2,036 and 9,454 ventilators." e city's department of health, working with the state, was to begin purchasing ventilators and to "stock- pile a supply of facemasks," according to the report. Shortly after it was released, Bloomberg held a pan- demic planning summit with top federal officials, in- cluding Dr. Anthony Fauci, now the face of the national coronavirus response. In the end, the alarming predictions failed to spur ac- tion. In the months that followed, the city acquired just 500 additional ventilators as the effort to create a larger stockpile fizzled amid budget cuts. I contend that this action by Bloomberg makes his understanding clear that health care is a state, and even local, responsibility. Given that, by the Constitution, health care is a state responsibility, the reasonable question is, how did the federal government get so involved? An article at www. khanacademy.org titled, "e relationship between the states and the federal government" opens the door to an answer: "As we noted above, the balance of power between states and the federal government has changed a great deal over time. In the early United States, the division between state powers and federal powers was very clear. States regulated within their borders, and the federal government regulated national and international issues. "But since the Civil War in the 1860s, the federal government's powers have overlapped and intertwined with state powers. In times of crisis, like the Great Depression, the federal government has stepped in to provide much-needed aid in areas typically controlled at the state level." Point blank, the answer is that the federal govern- ment has repeatedly stepped in to help states when it did not have a constitutional responsibility to do so. As is human nature, especially over years and generations, people came to expect much more from the federal gov- ernment than is required of it by the U.S. Constitution. COVID-19 comes upon us in this condition where the federal government is expected to solve problems for which it is not constitutionally responsible, not adequately funded and not sufficiently manned or or- ganized to routinely address. States are constitutionally expected to be prepared for health emergencies such as this. e quickness with which so many governors and mayors started calling at the Trump administration to provide equipment and materials that states and cities should have been stockpiling, as Michael Bloomberg attempted to do, screams that they were not nearly prepared for this (or an even lesser event). is is where the existential threat of America's practice of politics shows through. It is in the actions of governors, such as Andrew Cuomo of New York state and mayors like Bill de Blasio of New York City. ese leaders, and others at the state and local level, failed to prepare for a COVID-19 challenge. ese people of in- fluence do not acknowledge failure nor educate people as to state and local responsibilities and then work in unity with all who might contribute to solving the problems at hand. Instead, they complain vociferously about the federal government in general, but specifi- cally about Trump's performance in this crisis. ere is an unbelievably high level of finger-pointing at Trump. Granted, as of April 20, Cuomo did make some positive comments over the past few days regarding Trump and federal support. However, this was done while insisting the federal government must provide more funding and support to states. is is the state of political practice in America. It divides Americans, including politicians, into destruc- tively, even hate-filled, competing groups, the result of which is a country that finds itself unable to, in an orderly manner, respond to a crisis. More importantly, we are losing the ability to carry on the routine func- tions of government. All of this poses an existential threat to this nation. KARL MERRITT, Columnist. COM- MENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly. com. 910-484-6200. Under the Constitution, individual states are responsible for health care in their state.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Up & Coming Weekly - April 28, 2020