Holding Power During Pandemic Crises

Questions of power plague the nation

“Who’s in charge?” is like an electric charge crossing the nation while the nation wonders who holds the power. Is it the governors or the president? Do state’s rule or is this one nation ruled by Washington, D.C.?

033020 Power

Power is divided between governors and the president

It’s not a simple question and the answer may surprise you. Basically, ours is a republic of 50 independent and sovereign states united as one nation. Trump is a president of this nation, but he is not a king, any kind of king, not our king.

Mark Sherman of the Associated Press asks, “Who puts out ‘open for business’ sign?” His article clarifies the difference between state and federal authority during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Under our constitutional system, states have the power and responsibility for maintaining public order and safety. … no matter the vehemence of Trump’s exhortation to have businesses “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” Trump’s comments “are just advisory,” [quoted by John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation].

Sherman’s article continues:

“There are real limits on the president and the federal government when it comes to domestic affairs,” Berkeley law professor John Yoo said on a recent Federalist Society conference call. At the same time, the federal government has the power, under laws aimed at preventing the spread of communicable diseases, to quarantine people when they arrive in the United States and travel between states.

Hillary Borrud of The Oregonian noted Oregon’s Governor Brown’s response: “President’s call to reopen the U.S. doesn’t trump my orders.” Borrud reports Brown saying:

“My priority is keeping Oregonians safe and making sure that we are ensuring that we protect Oregon lives and Oregon livelihoods,” Brown said. “When I was on the phone with (Trump) earlier this week, he clearly said that these difficult decisions are in the hands of governors. So, I would expect that it stay that way.”

COVID-19 teaches lessons about power

While we may be a bit overwhelmed by what we take in via the news concerning the national crises, there’s a lesson to take in. As the virus moves across the entire nation, ignoring borders of any kind, we are reminded that we cannot simply say we are one nation. No matter how one frames it, the U.S. is a collection of separate self-governing jurisdictions.

Seven months and a handful of days from now we will cast our ballots for the presidency. Many say we should dispense with the Electoral College and use a simple, direct popular voting system. In these arguments a fundamental truth is forgotten (or conveniently ignored): this nation is a republic! A direct popular voting approach would not serve this nation well.

Power of the people is shackled

Our representative democracy rests on the power given to its voting citizenry. Voting for a president requires a mechanism that captures the consensus of the popular vote AND the voice of the sovereign states. It is why a presidency must win a coalition of states enough to also reach the Electoral College threshold of 270 electoral votes.

What disappoints many voting citizens is that the voting results often do not seem to reflect the nation’s voting sentiment nor even an honest telling of states’ preferences. The results do not seem to really reflect how we vote.

Equal Voice Voting should replace WTA

The problem is that the states have employed a Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach. Using WTA, a candidate winning a plurality (not needing a majority) of a state’s votes, wins all of the state’s electoral votes. A critical disenfranchisement ensues and the voting public is ill-served. Some 46% of voters in a typical presidential election are discounted – silenced, ignored, tossed away!

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) removes (silences, ignores, tosses away) WTA and replaces it with a proportional approach that unshackles the Electoral College. Every vote matters! Every state is independently heard! The presidential election no longer needs to be cloaked in mystery, shame, and disrespect. The voting consensus of the people, plus a true coalition of state voices, can harmonize together to render a true reading of the sentiment of the governed.

But there is blockage. No, it’s not a bill nor a law. The blockage comes from state legislators and political leaders who refuse to recognize the reality that a voting remedy is within reach. Political preferences silence the voting truth EVV offers to the people.

Power is an odd thing when it comes to governing these United States. The President holds the power to manage the direction and coordination different national entities need. Governors hold the power to manage their states as they execute the steps needed to protect their people. People hold the power to elect who they think and feel will represent them best. Their voting succeeds if they are allowed to use the voting mechanisms that serve them best: Free and open access to the ballot box, the Electoral College, and Equal Voice Voting!

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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