As spelled out to the credulous public, Trump’s proposal was to ban all Muslims forever. That’s a bad idea. It’s unreasonably xenophobic, and it prevents America from welcoming Muslims who are not religious zealots and who look favorably upon an open, pluralist society that respects the separation of church and state.
In fact, though, that’s not what Trump proposed. What he proposed, inarticulately on day one and more articulately on day two, is that the US pause all Muslim immigration. This pause will give Congress time to study the problem of jihadists and extremists coming in with ordinary Muslim folks, and to craft legislation that will provide maximum protection for Americans.
Phrased that way, a pause is not a bad idea. After all, when you live in America, and especially when you’re a citizen, you have distinct constitutional rights, one of which is the right to have your government protect you from foreign enemies who wish to become domestic.
Of course, if you are a citizen of another nation living outside of America’s borders, you have no constitutional rights whatsoever, including the right of automatic entry. The endless debate over Latin American illegals (and yes, people can be illegal if their status is such that they shouldn’t be here at all) has muddied the waters, at least in weak liberal minds.
Anyway, based upon people’s short attention spans and the misleading headlines, people on both the Left and the Right instantly began shouting out an opinion about whether an American president has the constitutional power to ban Muslims. Let me keep the answer to that one short: Yes, the president has that power. Democrat presidents have done it before, and there’s no reason a vaguely Republican businessman can’t do it again if he’s in the White House.
But why go that far? That is, why implicate the constitution at all? As Obama has shown us with his south of the border shenanigans, the president in his management capacity can simply issue signing or executive orders opening and closing the borders at his whim.
With Obama’s precedent, all that a future president needs to do to halt Muslim immigration in order to give Congress a window of time within which to consider and address the problem of terrorist immigration is to say that he has determined that his administrative functions require a halt to all immigration from . . . well, heck, anywhere the hell he wants it to halt. Again, Obama has made it clear that the president can govern by executive fiat without picayune restraints such as the constitutional balance of powers.
Having said that a President Trump can do that, doesn’t mean that I think a President Trump should do that. True conservatives have always understood that the problem these past seven years hasn’t just been Obama’s policies. The core problem has been the way in which he’s torn at the very fabric of that special agreement (i.e., the Constitution) between the people and their government. Policies can be reversed; foundational destruction is harder to repair. Trump, with his “I just say it and then I do it” attitude would likely be as bad as Obama when it comes to trampling the Constitution.
Think about it: The only difference between an Obama and a Trump presidency would be that, initially at least, Trump would do this constitutional trampling in ways that conservative voters prefer. Moreover, he’d only meet conservative preferences when it comes to immigration and, maybe, gun rights (and I’m not even sure about the later). Trump’s lifetime habit of supporting Democrat positions and politicians means that conservatives would be taking a “yuuuuge” gamble trusting him to use his Obama-inspired extra-constitutional powers to do the right thing when it comes to most other issues.
You all know what I’m going to say now, of course, right? Ted Cruz is the only candidate who has shown absolute fealty to the Constitution. If anyone is going to repair the damage to each citizen’s core relationship with government — which means returning to pride of place the Constitution’s checks and balances, thereby limiting the Supreme Court’s and the President’s increasingly unchecked powers — it’s going to be Ted Cruz. He understands that, as president, his job isn’t just to carry out policy, it’s to preserve and protect the United States, right down to repairing the tattered constitutional fabric Obama bequeaths to the next White House occupant.