As the General Assembly readied its return to the people’s business, I urged the legislature to reassert its place in the constitutional order.
“Emergency powers do not suspend state and federal constitutions and nullify laws,” I wrote on May 18. “King Polis should be dethroned and demoted back to governor. Let the General Assembly begin the revolution when it returns next week.”
So, I waited. And waited. Distressingly, the legislature’s rebellion never came. King Jared was not dethroned. Indeed, I am unaware of any effort by the party in power (Democrats) to even rein in his authority to govern by unilateral fiat.
We are now in the “protect our neighbors phase,” and our magistrate decreed that his emergency powers — which he described in April as a “dimmer switch” — shall last indefinitely. That is, until a cure or vaccine is found. This is an outrageous usurpation that must not go unrebuked.
Recall how we got to this point. Any genuine believer in separation of powers ought to cringe and cry foul.
I’m old enough to remember when “flatten the curve” was the goal. Now his orders must continue until we “find a cure or a vaccine.” This claim is itself disingenuous: there is no guarantee whatsoever that either of these things will happen in the next couple years.
As others have noted, we still don’t have a vaccine for HIV 30-plus years after it was identified. A vaccine for the dengue fever virus — isolated way back in 1943 — was only approved last year. SARS (2002) and MERS (2012) were both coronaviruses. We’re still waiting for their vaccines. In fact, the fastest vaccine we’ve gotten was for mumps.
And that one still took four years.
Moreover, there’s not even a guarantee a vaccine will ensure longstanding immunity. Given all this, just how long does King Jared the Dimmer Switch expect us to accept his “emergency powers” until we “find a cure or a vaccine?”
Will any of the dimmed bulbs in the press ask him?
While Polis thinks himself immune from the crisis of credibility sweeping the nation, he is not. Countless Americans in Colorado and elsewhere rightly don’t trust our institutions and our leaders. Why not? Because they keep moving the goal posts and the reasons, brushing aside complaints and insisting we “trust them.” Civil unrest is the result.
Independence Institute’s Joshua Sharf summarized it best: “A policy which was always sold as a two-week requirement, then extended two weeks at a time, then sort of hazily extended into the future, is now formally the new normal.” And because “Democrats in the state legislature blocked efforts both to end the emergency and to put a time limit on it,” he notes, “here we are.”
Polis does present a strong case for restrictions to continue amidst the pandemic. A “dimmer switch” approach might even be wise. Then again, many make a counterargument that is at least as persuasive and more practical.
However, the idea that a decision of this magnitude should — or even can — be indefinitely left up to a single individual, and with such widespread impact, violates the principles of liberty and division of power.
As we continue to celebrate the founding documents and principles of America, Coloradans should heed James Madison’s wisdom in Federalist No. 47. The “Father of the U.S. Constitution” wrote, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
While Madison wrote this for the national constitution, and the states have broader “police powers” than the feds, his point is utterly relevant to Polis’s power grab.
We’ve known about this pandemic since March. It is now July — four months in. This is no longer some “emergency situation” that requires swift action by one individual. We are long past that. The former member of Congress — ergo, a legislator — knows this.
Sadly, the separate and coequal legislative branch met and then acquiesced without reasserting its authority.
While King Jared may not be up for re-election this November, many complicit Democrats are. It is clearly time for Colorado voters to bring a ballot pox on his party this November.
In the meantime, We the people have our eyes on His Royal Highness. For as Jefferson said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”