James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Can Trump unwittingly end the Imperial Presidency?

The headline cracked me up: "End the Imperial Presidency Before it's Too Late."

What year is this? 2012? 2004? 1936?

1792?

That said, Conor Friedersdorf's essay is on point about the Establishment's silence when W. and Obama illegally increased executive power at the expense of peace and civil liberties, and got away with it.

Now they're worried what a President Trump would do with that power?

You don't have to be a student of history or political philosophy to think it's a bad idea to hand over power to one person that you wouldn't want his successor to have. It's common sense.

That's why I have little sympathy for those who, without remorse, re-elected Bush in 2004 or Obama in 2012 but now wring their hands about how Trump may abuse power. Trump isn't the problem. The problem is those who want a dictatorial Presidency only if the "right person" is in charge. And I agree with Friedersdorf that the imperial Presidency must be stopped.

Here's the ironic part: Trump may just be the one to do it.

At first glance, that may seem absurd. Friedersdorf quotes Robert Kagan: "[I]s a man like Trump, with infinitely greater power in his hands, likely to become more humble, more judicious, more generous, less vengeful than he is today, than he has been his whole life? Does vast power un-corrupt?”

Probably not. Definitely not. Hillary may be, as Friedersdorf describes her, "less risky" though still likely to abuse power.

But Hillary will get away with it. Trump might not

Congress couldn't impeach George W. Bush because they were co-conspirators with him. And they wouldn't impeach Obama even after he violated the War Powers Act in Libya,. Even after he was caught spying on us without search warrants. Congress would not dare impeach the first black President.

Do you think they'd impeach the first female President? Unlikely. At most, they'd sue her like they sue Obama, over executive orders relating to domestic policy.

But they have no incentive to give Trump a pass. They neither like nor respect him. Congress might put Trump on notice that impeachment is always on the table. Or they will be more likely to pass, with veto-proof majorities, curbs on executive power. Under Trump, the Presidency might shrivel like many of his enterprises.

I'm not saying this will happen. A weakened Presidency is merely the best-case scenario. But it won't happen under Hillary. It might happen under Trump.

That's not reason enough to support him. But it is one ray of hope.

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