The United States of America is not a dictatorship nor an absolute monarchy for that matter. When the early drafters of our country’s Constitution added the Tenth Amendment to the Bill of Rights, they stated in detail that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” On Monday, Donald Trump ignored this constitutional amendment, saying he has ‘total’ authority to reopen businesses in states amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Trump’s not-so-shocking, yet contradictory statement comes after weeks of shifting blame to governors for any missteps taken during the unprecedented outbreak. Almost daily, during coronavirus briefings, Trump said that states and local authorities should be responsible for their own constituents, should order their own shutdowns, implement their own safe distancing measures, and even acquire PPE for their own hospitals. But when it comes to reopening the economy, Trump believes he has the final say.

Trump uses White House briefing to discuss when the economy will reopen
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 31: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while flanked by Vice President Mike Pence (L) during the daily coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady Briefing room at the White House on March 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. With the nationwide death toll rising due to the coronavirus, the United States has extended its social distancing practices through the end of April, while many states have issued stay-at-home orders that strongly discourage residents from leaving home unless absolutely necessary or essential. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“The president of the United States calls the shots,” he said at the evening news briefing. “They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.” When journalists asked him to validate his claim while simultaneously explaining that that’s not how any of this works, Trump doubled down on his comment saying, “When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total.”  

Trump fields questions from journalists who doubt his claim that he has ‘total’ authority when it comes to deciding the time at which the economy will reopen. (Source: CNN)

Conflicting messages about leadership during this pandemic have brought a level of chaos consistent with a Trump presidency. It also comes as east and west coast leaders are forming alliances to determine the best time to reopen the economy within their respective states. “We are trying to make decisions based on the data and based on the science,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said during a Monday news briefing. “We don’t get to the point of economic and societal recovery unless it is on the back of a healthcare recovery. Our collective job is to put the fire out in the house, and we are still not there yet. Cases are still rising.”

Murphy is working on a regional effort that will determine the proper time to reopen with five other Democratic leaders. They include Ned Lamont of Connecticut, John Carney of Delaware, Andrew Cuomo of New York, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island. 

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