Why Federalism Is Illustrating Strength during the COVID-19 Outbreak

March 27, 2020

I believe that the response by local, state, and federal government officials illustrates the strengths of federalism through decentralization and more “power to the people,” in local and state governments. Many people are calling on the president to shut everything down and have a nation-wide shutdown. What people understand is that the U.S. government does not work like that, and for good reason. Federalism gives us the power of decentralization, this way State Governors are the ones with the most power at this time to control shutdowns, curfews, bans on larger gatherings, etc. The National Review article “The Coronavirus Response Shows That Federalism Is Working,” says this makes our reaction time faster and more efficient.

“One of the reasons federalism can act faster is that it allows decentralization. It is less politically risky to impose measures in one state than on an entire nation. You can respond where the hotspots are, rather than imposing costs evenly across an undifferentiated mass of the nation where the overall average risk may be low,” Michael Brendan Dougherty of The National Review said.

Federalism allows our government to stay steady, instead of a national shutdown that could result in scary economic problems, while still dealing with the problem in the most logical way possible. In The Washington Post article “The Daily 202: Trump leads from behind on the coronavirus, invoking federalism to excuse his dithering response,” James Hohmann essential says that Trump is not doing enough for the states… while asking federalism to excuse his “dithering response.” This makes absolutely no sense to me because the point of federalism is decentralization so that the federal government does not have absolute control over the states, but Hohmann wants Trump to take over entirely to help out getting the proper materials, saying that federalism is creating too much state competition for materials and it would be easier to just have a federal plan for everyone. What the article does not mention or understand is that Trump stated that he is doing everything he can, and trying to make it easier for states.

“An attitude of shock and outrage pervaded The New York Times’ coverage—as well as misleading tweets from some NYT editors—of a conference call in which Trump told governors that they should try to get ventilators and respirators for themselves. Many of the tweets left out the full context of what Trump said: ‘We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.’ Asked about the Times report later in the day at the press conference, Trump explained that many governors might have a more direct line on this equipment and if so they should go ahead and acquire it themselves, no need to wait on Washington, D.C. This is of course exactly the way federalism is supposed to work,” (‘Why States ‘Governing Themselves’ During The Coronavirus Outbreak Is A Good Thing (Links to an external site.)‘ John Daniel Davidson of The Federalist said.

This more direct line to equipment is a great example of why federalism is helping in this time and is one of our most valuable weapons while giving more power to the people and executing decentralization.

“To put it another way, President Xi Jinping of China can order every Chinese citizen to stay in his or her home under threat of arrest. He can shutter every business in China by fiat. He can “take over the supply chain” of any industry whenever he wants. President Trump can’t do any of that. You’d think Democrats and the media would be relieved about that—and they might be if they knew the first thing about federalism,” Davidson said.

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