The Founders are having a collective posthumous fit—and it's not because of Donald Trump.
Yes, it's true,
Trump is not ever going to be one of the guys on Mount Rushmore—unless he buys
the place and converts it to a luxury spa and personal shrine. He's just not a
Rushmore type. We want our Presidents brave, eloquent, decisive, visionary,
caring, gracious. That's not Trump. They need to have the intellectual ability
and knowledge to integrate multiple sources of information to facilitate making
complex decisions in rapid real time. Still no. Plus the emotional pliancy to
cope with wrenching moral choices as a surrogate for the nation, taking upon
themselves the responsibility for life or death choices and providing
absolution for the rest of us. Yet another no. And a thick skin that enables
them to do all these things with equanimity as a polarized electorate and a
media hungry for scoops and gotcha tear at them. Definitely, absolutely, not
At the risk of
offending roughly a third of the electorate, let me make an obvious point:
Whatever his talents in business or otherwise, as a President, Trump is a
disaster, utterly unfit to hold the office. To offend the other two-thirds, I
am going to suggest something radical: Unless he literally blows up the world
(admittedly, not completely impossible) it doesn't matter. The Trump Presidency
is a temporary problem—a big one, likely to be remembered for emotional
vandalism, a hard-right agenda, and some crushing disappointments for his loyal
base—but a temporary one. His Presidency will end. We will have another
election, pick someone new, rebalance ourselves domestically, and reintroduce
ourselves to the world as the rich, powerful, and reliable partner we were
before. And to be truthful, the world isn't going to have that much of a
choice, because we are still the Indispensable Nation—and because we really can
be the good guys when we try.
We will get
through the Trump Presidency. I say this because I have faith in our system.
The Founders anticipated a Trump problem and built into the Constitution a
variety of checks and balances that would either keep him from office (through
the Electoral College), remove him (if he merits impeachment), or legally
constrain him and limit the institutional damage he could cause if elected. And
if all else fails, he still has to face the electorate in 2020. Sooner or
later, he's going to have to take his Twitter account and his golf clubs and go
So, why are the
Founders spinning in their graves? Because of the one man who, under the radar,
is doing a lot more damage to Madison's delicate mechanism than Donald Trump.
That would be the Senior Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell. He's the guy
with the can of gasoline and the box of matches burning down Independence Hall.
McConnell is in
the public eye right now for sending the Gang of Thirteen into the treehouse
(Girls Keep Out) to decide healthcare for the country. Whatever you think of
Obamacare, you have to admit that a little sunlight might have been useful
before the GOP decided to move on something so critically important to so many
people. Mitch clearly didn't agree. There were oppressed one-tenth of one
percenters who desperately needed help, and far too many Americans living the
good life in ERs.