Trump’s national emergency calls for checks and balances

By Skylar Bouchard, Columnist

President Donald Trump has now enacted the National Emergency Act to receive funding for the border wall. Depending on your political beliefs, you may view this as either a positive or negative occurrence. For people on the right side of the political spectrum, this may seem like a long-awaited win, but this decision should pose concerns for people on both sides of the political aisle. People should not be so happy to sacrifice the checks and balances of our government for a short-sighted political victory.

Our government has a strong foundation in the system of checks and balances. It makes sure no matter which party holds power, the opinion of the minority party must be accounted for. The consequence of this system, though, is that government action occurs extremely slowly in this country. This is why The National Emergency Act of 1976 was created: for the purpose of speeding up governmental action in a crisis situation. It was not created for the purpose of allowing the executive branch to bypass Congress’s checks on presidential power — which is exactly what President Trump is doing by passing the National Emergency Act.

American law operates on the basis of precedent, meaning that once a decision is made in court, it is used to make future decisions. If the courts decide this is a rightful use of the National Emergency Act, this situation will be used to justify future presidential decisions. This fact should make even the biggest supporter of a border wall worried about the consequences of Trump getting his way.

Regardless of how someone feels about Trump as a president, they must acknowledge a simple fact: He will not be the president forever. Neither will the Republican Party forever hold the majority of political power in this country. Considering how divisive the country seems to be lately, it is likely political power will change hands much quicker than it has in the past.  If you support the president declaring a national emergency to secure funding for a border wall, consider how you would feel if this tactic was used to overstep congressional approval for an issue such as climate change, prison reform or any other political argument you may not agree with.

This is not to malign anyone for thinking the president is correct in his actions. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on this matter should not be looked at through a political lens. When analyzing a controversial decision in government, people should not only consider what this decision means in the moment, but also how it will affect future actions taken by the government. Always consider how actions done while in charge could hold future consequences when the power is given to the other side.

Skylar is a freshman in ACES.

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