Mazzuca: The system is working
Our nation operates under a system of government known as federalism, which is the sharing of power between the individual states and the federal government as prescribed in the Constitution. Federalism is defined as a governmental system wherein sovereignty is constitutionally divided between the individual states and the federal government and predicated upon democratic processes, rules and institutions wherein the power to govern is shared between the individual states and the federal government.
The Interstate Highway System is a clear example of modern federalism. The highways are owned, operated and maintained by the states, but the federal government sets down the basic guidelines every state must follow while providing the funding. And that’s exactly what’s happening today.
The president, governors of both parties, along with local officials across America won’t always agree about the steps to take fighting this virus, and dust-ups such as the one that occurred recently between New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamon over repairs to I-90 are bound to happen; but that’s how the system was designed.
Since the founding, the framers of the Constitution intended for the individual states to act as “laboratories of democracy” inasmuch as they can experiment with innovative policy ideas and then share the ideas and concepts that work and discard those that don’t. But this notion isn’t restricted to day-to-day political matters; it also applies in the battle against COVID-19. So as the individual states experiment and implement, the federal government is doing what it does best — providing leadership, oversight, and resources.
For years we’ve seen individual states run to the federal government after hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and floods. But in the face of COVID-19, it’s the federal government calling upon the states to protect their own citizens while it directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide logistical assistance as the White House enlists private industry to do what private industry does best — innovate!
Since the advent of the crisis, companies around the U.S. (and the world for that matter) have come together to find inventive and groundbreaking ways to minimize the impact on public health, and limit disruptions to supply chains. Of course, there will be missteps. I mean how can there not be — this is a once-in-a-lifetime black swan event, which in many ways is tantamount to an alien invasion, meaning there’s no manual to tell us how we could have prepared for it or how to fight it. Meanwhile, the complexity and velocity of COVID-19, has reduced the probability of any plan predicting reality to near zero.
No one knows how many will be infected or when we’ll begin to see businesses reopen. And while the public has a right to be informed, the “gotcha” questions emanating from the White House daily briefing room benefit no one. Surely these reporters realize nothing in recorded history has had such a monumental impact on so many countries in such a short time span.
Personally, I believe the cooperation we’re witnessing between federal and state governments along with much of the private sector joining in is cause for real optimism.
April will likely be the toughest month of this crisis and the toll of infected will rise. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, the bad news is that we’re in the throes of a pandemic and the situation will likely worsen before it gets better. But there’s good news too, such as the collaboration and partnership we’re witnessing from all sectors of government and private industry, which should give reasonable people confidence that we as a nation will soon be out of this quagmire.
Quote of the day: “The best teamwork comes from people who are working independently toward one goal in unison.”—J.C. Penny
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.