Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2018

Disciplines

Constitutional Law | Law | Law and Politics | President/Executive Department

Abstract

The election of Donald Trump as president represented a failure of American politics. Trump is a serial liar, a sexual predator, deeply conflicted financially, hostile to bedrock democratic institutions such as free press, and ignorant of even the broad brushstrokes of important policy matters. The best evidence suggests that he is a white nationalist, a plutocrat, and a professional con artist, dangerously attracted to corrupt and incompetent sycophants, self-obsessed and aggressive to the point of psychopathy, and otherwise temperamentally unfit to be in charge of the world’s largest military and nuclear arsenal. There is some evidence that Trump or members of his campaign conspired with a hostile foreign power to help secure his election. His electoral opponent (whom he promised to prosecute criminally if elected) re-ceived nearly three million more votes than he did, and he assumed office as the least popular elected president in recorded history. No credible account of a healthy electoral process can abide Trump’s election as an acceptable outcome of that process.

But you want to know what I really think. Less clear than the status of the Trump presidency as a political failure is whether Trump’s election also represented a failure of the U.S. Constitution. Do our constitutional arrangements predict just the kind of political failure that materialized in November 2016? If so, does that mean that the long-term remedy for that failure lies in constitutional reform? Does our constitutional fate, in other words, determine our political fate?

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