Sunday, April 12, 2020

It's Time For a 28th Amendment

The scare over the Chinese Virus has certainly upended our lives and our economy, to say the least.  And what has been most stunning about these developments is the speed at which governments have been able to restrict our movements, prevent our being able to earn a living as we once did, and compel businesses to shut down or radically change how--and to what extent--they will do business.  For those of us in the "Limited Government" (or even, the "Anti-Government") camp, this is the sort of government micro-management that we have long feared--and the results have been every bit as devastating as we imagined.  An economy ground to a halt, people struggling to find a way to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads, and the very autonomy we treasure being tossed aside for some mythical "greater good of society".

However, for most of us who have spent a lifetime fighting this sort of government overreach and micro-management, the source of this despotism has been a bit surprising.  For decades, we have cautioned against a Federal Government being allowed too much power--as this would undoubtedly lead to the destruction of our individual freedoms.  However, the assaults on our freedom we are seeing at this time are not coming from the Federal level, as many of us assumed they eventually would.  President Trump--in the face of incalculable pressure--has resisted every urge to use this crisis as an excuse to expand government overreach and to give the Federal Government more of a role in our individual lives.  For this, President Trump deserves a tremendous amount of praise...after all, my gut tells me that any other President--of either party--would have taken advantage of this situation to expand government and gain even more control of our lives (Remember the "Patriot Act" of George W. Bush?  Yes, the Democrats are horrible about these sorts of things, but they aren't always alone...)

No, it was "leaders" at the state, local, and, and municipal levels who engaged in these power grabs.  Mainly Democrats, yes, but often joined by RINO Republicans who--in the words of Rahm Emmanuel, couldn't let a crisis go to waste.  The fact that you are--as of this writing--currently cooped up in your home, wondering where your next paycheck is going to come from, or when you will be able to visit a grocery store that resembles something other than a Soviet breadline, is something entirely brought about by the power-hungry, micro-managing politicians in your state, city, and/or municipality.

So while our focus for so many years has been on restricting the power that the Federal Government has over our individual lives, is it possible that we have taken our eye off the ball--at least somewhat--in terms of the power that state, local, and municipal governments have?  Did this perhaps open up the possibility that local governments could radically impact the lives of it's citizens--determining winners and losers, telling you where and when you can move and where and when you can't?  No doubt that our form of government was set up so that the local governments would be the most responsive to us--that was the intention of our Founders.  But in acknowledging that reality, have we--even so--allowed too much power to be given to our local governments?

If there is one lesson to be learned from the Chinese Virus, it is that "Stay at Home" orders, "Lockdowns", "Quarantines", and orders determining what businesses are "essential" and "non-essential" can easily be abused by governments at any level, and can be used to quickly and egregiously take away our freedoms and exert control over our individual lives.  While our Founders intended for local governments to be most responsive to us--to be our "go to" when it came to those very few governmental needs we might encounter--I am convinced they did not intend this.  So the question is, how can we strip these sort of powers away from state, local, and municipal governments?

The best way to effect such change (and also the most seldom used method) would be to add an amendment to the Constitution.  While it is not an easy task to accomplish, such an amendment would be something that could not be changed by a Congress, an Executive Order, or a Court of any kind.  It would have the "teeth" needed to keep something like what we have seen from ever happening again.  I am proposing the idea of a 28th Amendment to the Constitution--the focus of which would be prohibiting any level of government from having the power to enact "Stay at Home" orders, "Qurantines", "Lockdowns", or forcing businesses to alter how they operate or to shut down, even in "Emergency" circumstances.  This period in history has proven to us all that government--at any level--cannot be trusted with this sort of power or ability, that they will always abuse it, and that when they do abuse those powers, the impact--in terms of economics and quality of life--is devastating.

I'm certainly not a Constitutional Lawyer, nor am I someone who has any experience drafting legislation or legal documents of any sort.  Therefore, the text of this proposed amendment that you are about to read is simply a rough, first draft.  No doubt my verbiage and word selection will fall somewhat short and will need to be tightened up--from a legal and Constitutional perspective.  If you have suggestions for how I might adjust the verbiage in order to make the amendment more clear or "air tight"--please feel free to post that feedback, and I'll update the proposed amendment accordingly.

This is what I have worked up--thus far--for the text of this 28th Amendment to the Constitution:

"No Federal, State, Local, or Municipal government shall prevent or attempt to prevent a business from operating in it's normal procedures and capacity.  Exceptions may not be made for times of emergency, natural disaster, insurrection, or Act of God.

No Federal, State, Local, or Municipal government shall prevent or restrict a citizen from his normal mode of free movement or from engaging in his legally obtained vocation, job, or business, under any circumstances
Exceptions may not be made for times of emergency, natural disaster, insurrection, or Act of God."

Simply put--we must take away the power from government (all forms of government) to take over our lives, restrict our movements and our ability to glean a paycheck, and micro-manage our lives.  This virus (and more importantly, the overreaction to it) has served as a stress test for our society.  it has exposed the weaknesses and areas of improvement with our approach to government that we may not have seen before.  And what has been exposed is how quickly that local and state governments can so quickly embrace a model that strips away or civil liberties and reduces it's citizens to nothing more than pieces on a be moved around as those in power see fit, with no consideration being given to the quality of life that those citizens have.  Simply put, this must never, ever be allowed to happen matter the situation, no matter what challenge our nation faces in the future.  The power we have seen abused over these last few weeks must be permanently stripped away from ALL levels of government.  Individual Rights and Autonomy must never again be sacrificed for "the greater good".