The Trump Disaster

Constitutional Moment

By John Morton


ConstitutionOur federal government is in chaos.  Although the government has often offered a wildly entertaining ride, now everything is over the top.  The executive branch is investigating the executive branch on Russian influence on the 2016 election.  The congressional branch is also investigating the executive branch and the Clinton campaign.  The executive branch will not produce subpoenaed documents even though both branches are controlled by Republicans. 


Watch any newscast for 10 minutes, and you will conclude that the political debates are controlled by emotions, not values or principles.  President Obama doesn’t get a pass on this.  When Congress wouldn’t pass legislation he wanted, he took his pen and phone and ordered what he wanted.  Furthermore, he killed Americans with drones, targeted conservative groups with the IRS, and probably put a spy into the Trump campaign, supposedly for Trump’s own protection.  In a recent column, Victor Davis Hanson claimed that “Obama defies the Constitution, but sounds presidential; Trump follows it but sounds like a loudmouth from Queens.”


James Madison worried about this type of political behavior.  Here is a passage from Federalist 51:


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?  If men were angels, no government would be necessary.  If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.  In forming a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this:  you must first enable government to control the governed; and in the next place to oblige it to control itself.”


In this passage, Madison tells us why government must exist and also why government must be constitutionally restrained.  This does not mean that people do not have various levels of ethical behavior; it means relying on morality is not enough.


Fortunately, the United States has a short and clearly written rulebook to guide our decisions.  It is called the Constitution.  The Constitution is intended to guard against overreach.  John Adams said it well:  “But a constitution of government once changed from freedom can never be restored.”  We’d better start paying attention.


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> [Obama] targeted conservative groups with the IRS, and probably put a spy into the Trump campaign,

Citation needed.

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