The president has ramped up his public fear campaign about the southern border, adding a prime-time address and a border visit stunt. With this new effort to scare Americans into supporting him, he’s also threatened a new attack on our ideals, norms and institutions: a declaration of a national emergency to grab power from Congress and act unilaterally. The threat is just the latest evidence that he is not interested in working with Congress or listening to the American people to find a solution.
The question on all of our minds is, can the president declare an emergency that he made up? Here are the facts:
- The President does have the power to declare a national emergency, even if Congress and the American people know it’s a farce.
- According to the National Emergencies Act, passed in 1976, emergencies expire in 1 year, unless extended, and are supposed to be reviewed by Congress every 6 months.
- Congress does have the power to block a presidential declaration of national emergency once it’s been made, by passing a resolution through both the House and Senate.
- Unfortunately, Congress largely has ignored it’s responsibility to oversee emergency declarations. Congress has never met to review declarations and there are currently 30 such declarations in effect right now.
But just because the president does have the legal ability to declare a fake emergency, doesn’t mean we should allow him to do so unchecked. Congress does have the power to fight back. If President Trump does declare a phony emergency, we will demand that Republicans and Democrats in Congress introduce and pass a bipartisan resolution blocking his dishonest declaration. We hope we can count on your voice of support should that happen.
The president has done everything he can to make us fear immigrants, hoping that he can scare us into giving him whatever he wants. But the emergency we’re facing isn’t from the border, it’s from a president with no respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, or the separation of powers. Trump is hardly the first world leader to be frustrated by the legal constraints on his power, and he certainly isn’t the first to declare phony emergencies to get around them. But wherever authoritarians have used emergency declarations to gain power, it has always come at the cost of liberty.
We cannot accept that in America. We deserve an honest debate on improving our immigration and border security systems. But that’s not what the president wants; he wants to power to act unfettered. Our nation was built on the belief that power must be constrained. Will you stand up with us against this abuse of power?
America’s Constitution revolutionized the very notion of government, and has inspired peoples around the world to realize their freedom and achieve self-rule. But even our Founders knew that they could not design a perfect, unchanging system. Instead, they established sturdy checks and balances as guardrails for liberty and justice in America, leaving the task of further improving our self-government to the people themselves, legislatures across the country, and future generations.
This power for change enabled us to banish the scourge of slavery, recognize the equal rights of all, and build new institutions for transparency and accountability. But we should not declare our evolution complete, or rest on our laurels as new challenges pose new risks to governance structures.
In election laws and practices in particular, we’ve fallen short of realizing our full democratic potential. That’s why Stand Up Republic is proud to announce this electoral reform platform. From innovative ideas to time-tested practices, these reforms will enhance the voice of all Americans, while inspiring more unifying, accountable and effective leadership. These reforms represent another step towards fulfilling the promise of American democracy.
In the coming months and years, Stand Up Republic and its state-level organizations will work in cooperation with other reform-minded organizations and citizens to advance these reforms. We invite all to join us in the cause!
Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank their candidates by preference, incentivizing politicians to appeal to all voters and offer more unifying, accountable and effective leadership rather than catering solely to narrow portions of their natural base. Whether in primary or general elections, at the local, state or national level, ranked-choice voting empowers voters to more fully express their preferences and rewards leaders who build broad constituent coalitions.
The nation’s interests are not well served by partisan-drawn electoral districts intended to guarantee parties easier election wins and to limit their accountability to the people. States should institute independent commissions, whether bipartisan or nonpartisan, to ensure that districts are drawn impartially to enhance competition, accountability and representation of all voters.
Automatic Voter Registration
Voting is the most important civic activity in our system of self-government and it should not be difficult for eligible citizens to participate. Automatic voter registration facilitates participation by allowing citizens to receive their registration automatically through a range of other interactions with the state government, such as obtaining a driver’s license or paying taxes.
Additionally, states should make it easier for residents to obtain official identification, whether it be a driver’s license or another type. There are often hurdles to obtaining an identification that disproportionately impact lower income and minority communities, effectively disenfranchising some eligible voters.
Paper Records for All Votes
Electronic voting machines are common in our digital era and provide important benefits, but they are vulnerable to increasing cyber threats and other tampering. Paper records for all votes help ensure the auditability of our elections and contribute to the legitimacy of their outcomes.
A National Holiday for Election Day
Establishing general Election Day for federal offices as a national holiday will make it easier for millions of Americans to participate in the most fundamental element of our democratic process. Easing the burden of voting on citizens who would otherwise struggle to make it to the polls while enhancing our culture of civic participation will strengthen our democracy.
More Open Ballot Access
Ballot access rules too often make it nearly impossible for citizens to run for office without significant financial resources or major party support. While there is a legitimate need for states to set standards in order to ensure candidates’ basic viability, reasonable ballot access laws should allow third-party and independent candidates to participate in the electoral process.