Trump and our Constitutional Order
I would recommend the following essay by my good friend Michael Bailey, Associate Professor of Political Science at Berry College: Enter Donald Trump.
A basic taste:
The Framers were war-hardened seasoned politicians who suffered no delusions about the real character of our human nature, and accordingly they built a Constitution designed to endure the rough and tumble of real-life politics. The Constitution produces a government capable of remaining intact from the rulership of the crooked or misguided leader. Such unsavory rulers are inevitable – after all, “enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”
But they also understood that no degree of clever constitutional engineering can mechanically ensure a decent rights-respecting republican government under every imaginable circumstance. Republican government was, and remains, an experiment – and Donald Trump is a trial too far.
Trump’s presidency threatens to conjure a perfect constitutional storm brewed from Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and overall recklessness, our separation of powers system, and a polarized party system.
A key passage:
Trump is a seventy-year old man. His character (or temperament, to use the language of the age) is set – it would not change were he elected President. Tellingly, Newt Gingrich – one of Trump’s most prominent and active allies – chalked up Trump’s disconcerting war of words with a former Miss Universe as Trump in “I got to be me” mode. Newt is right. What Trump was doing is what Trump does. He’s done it before. Rosie O’Donnell. Megyn Kelly. Khizr Khan. Trump is a man who cannot move forward once an opponent – i.e. anyone who opposes him – gets under his translucently thin skin. He is who he is.
Presidents are deluged with endless demands to solve the problems of a troubled world. As a matter of course, presidents set aside terribly important and urgent concerns to address even more important and even more urgent matters. A man whose personal obsessions impede his ability to prioritize between the important and the trivial cannot be Commander-in-Chief.
His brazen disregard for factual consistency will continue as President. His irresponsible rhetoric dismissing our national obligations, foreign and domestic, will continue as President. His mockery of vulnerable people will continue as president. His “trust my secret plan” mode of leadership will continue as President. There is good reason why unprecedented numbers of Republican Party elders – former Presidents, current Senators and House members – have refused to endorse Trump. They are not being bad Republicans. They are being good Americans.
I very much recommend the whole thing.