Washington’s Response to the Virus

President Donald Trump, joined by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, listens to a reporter’s question during a briefing at the White House, March 16, 2020. (Shealah Craighead/White House)
In our society, not everything has to be coordinated from above.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus is, among many other things, a test of America’s system of government. In particular, a crisis like this challenges the federal executive. Decision, activity, and dispatch are the watchwords of the presidency, as Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist No. 70: The Congress sets frameworks for the future action of the government, the judiciary reviews and assesses past actions, but the president acts in the present, and in response to events.

So how is the executive branch doing in responding to the crisis? The easy answer is that it seems to be struggling and overwhelmed.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.


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