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Opinion & Editorial

Trump’s Emergency Declaration a Danger to Democracy

President Trump deliberates an executive order in the Oval Office (Joyce N. Boghosian via

On Friday, February 15, President Trump declared a state of national emergency on immigration at the southern Border. This measure would presumably allow Trump to bypass Congress and commandeer the billions in wall funding refused to him in recent shutdown negotiations. 

Citing an “invasion” of illegal activity into our nation from across the southern border, Trump said, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster. I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.”

Sorry Mr. President, but that isn’t going to cut it. Executive impatience doesn’t constitute a collective crisis. 

Regardless of your position on the wall, this is a bad idea. 

Were future presidents to follow the precedent Trump is setting, Congress would be whittled down to an impotent branch of government kept around only to preserve the appearance of democracy. Congressional votes would be a mere formality: the president could enact whatever policy they wanted, even in the face of overwhelming legislative disapproval. 

Sure, cultural conservatives and Trump supporters might giddily uphold this declaration as a necessary measure. And to a certain extent, they’re right: we do in fact need greater security on our southern border. 

But what happens when, in four or eight years time, a Democratic President uses the same tactics to further an agenda they disagree with? In fact, some of the President’s most outspoken supporters wailed and cried bloody murder when President Obama signed executive orders pushing a progressive platform on immigration. 

Sound like a double standard? That’s because it is. 

I’m not convinced that those defending this blunder can call themselves conservatives at all. 

True American conservatism is founded on the promotion, among other ideals, of small government, so I’m not sure you call yourself its adherent while defending one of the most nearsighted, egregious overreaches of executive power in recent memory. 

But regardless of partisan affiliation, a system wherein the president can wield unchecked power via executive declaration is wildly imprudent, and–constitutionality– it is still up for debate. 

Conservative or progressive, Republican or Democrat, Trump’s declaration of emergency threatens the democracy we all have in common.


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October 20, 2019