I realized the other day that, in a very visceral way, I’m actually looking forward to a Trump presidency. This realization comes as a surprise because (a) I still don’t like Trump’s style and (b) Republican presidents never follow through on the change they promise. And yet. . . .
The fact that Trump hasn’t been marinated for decades in politics seems to promise that he’ll have a fresh new approach to problem solving, and that he won’t be beholden to the usual D.C. interest groups. It helps that those who have followed his career over the decades say that he has a steep learning curve (which we’re seeing right now with his statesman-like conduct regarding Mexico and his immigration message), that he’s an out-of-the-box thinker, and that he gets things done. Every one of those characteristics is antithetical to the normal political model.
Of course, Barack Obama has gotten things done too. He is well on his way to keeping his promise to “fundamentally transform” America. When you think about, though, Obama brought about much of this change by acting unconstitutionally:
He’s unilaterally made substantive legislative changes to existing laws, as was the case with his constant, substantive amendments to Obamacare’s implementation his changes to labor law, and his unilateral changes to welfare.
He’s ignored his executive obligations, as with his repeated decisions not to enforce America’s immigration laws. (Do you find it as amusing as I do that Trump is being tarred as an extreme racist for basically saying that, as president, he would enforce the laws on the books?)
He entered into a treaty with Iran, even though the Constitution is remarkably clear that, no matter the word games a president plays, a president should never obligate America to a foreign power without Congressional oversight.
He had his administrative agencies engage in illegal payments to Iran — payments made in illegal ways for illegal purposes.
He is on the verge of entering into another unconstitutional treaty, this one imposing the huge costs of “climate change” remediation on America, again without regard to Congressional oversight and approval.
He dragged us into a war with Libya in violation of the War Powers Act.
As Obama himself said,
We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need. I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.
In other words, Constitution be damned. L’etat c’est moi!
The interesting thing about a Trump presidency is that he can remedy so many of the wrongs Obama committed, as well as so many wrongs that have accumulated against Americans even before Obama all without ever violating the constitutional limitations placed on his powers.
As a successor executive, Trump can rescind Obama’s executive orders, whether those orders that actually fall within the narrow purview of constitutionally-accepted administrative orders or those that are unconstitutional legislative acts. Hillary, of course, would never rescind any of Obama’s executive orders; she would enlarge upon them.
As a successor executive, Trump can follow America’s laws, rather than ignore or pervert them. Indeed, it’s not just a matter of “can.” It is his constitutional obligation to follow the laws as Congress wrote them, on everything from immigration to Obamacare to environmental and tax laws. Hillary, of course, would follow the trail Obama blazed, ignoring and perverting the laws he ignored and perverted and undoubtedly adding a whole new series of laws to the “I won’t do that” list.
As a successor executive, Trump can take pruning shears to the administrative state. And indeed, with both his bankruptcy and management experiences, there’s reason to believe that Trump knows how to get rid of excess rules, regulations, and employees. Hillary’s entire goal, of course, is to make government bigger.
As a successor executive, Trump could (although I doubt even he will) rescind JFK’s executive order allowing government employees to unionize. That, more than anything, has led to Democrat hegemony and government corruption, as Democrats in power grant money to unions, a percentage of which is taken from worker paychecks to keep Democrats in power, in an endless cycle that enriches Democrats, bloats the government, gives way too much power to the Democrat-union nexus, and sucks wealth from the taxpayers, the only ones with skin in the game, who foot the bill for all this money laundering without ever being given a place at the negotiating table. Hillary, like all Democrats, is completely beholden to the unions and will always back them against the taxpayers — and against blacks who would love to have their children in decent schools, instead of trapped in the hell of schools controlled by the teachers’ unions.
As a successor executive, Trump can stop turning a blind eye to state and local legal violations. For example, Trump has already promised to pull federal funding from those cities that label themselves “sanctuary cities” and hide illegal aliens within their borders. Hillary wants amnesty and will continue to reward cities that violate the law.
I know there are more entirely constitutional executive acts Trump can undertake to bring America in line with American law and to prune the too-powerful, too-expensive administrative state that’s been growing for decades under both Democrats and Republicans, but that has veered into sheer illegal totalitarianism under Obama — I just can’t think of them right now. I’m sure many of you can, though, and that the comments to this post can be a wonderful crowd-sourcing list of constitutionally-correct executive functions Trump can engage in.
When I think of all the things that Trump — beholden to no special interests, an out-of-the-box thinker, comfortable with trimming and firing, and known for getting things done — can make happen, I get this incredible thrill. And yesterday, I finally figured out the analogy for the thrill:
Think of the art and science behind building demolition. Once upon a time, these vast buildings were new and shiny, and arguably served a useful purpose. As time went by, though, the buildings became ugly, huge, useless husks, sitting in the middle of the landscape, preventing positive change, sucking up resources, and often becoming magnets for violent crimes. It’s always good news when the buildings’ owners finally hire a specialized demolition team to blow the damn things up with minimal risk to the surrounding areas.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love watching videos of skillfully-controlled building demotions. Everyone is fascinated by those videos. The total destruction of something old and bad, without destroying any of the good and useful things near it, is viscerally satisfying.
If done right, this it what Trump’s presidency will be like: In a legal, safe, and practical way, he’ll clear out decades of useless, ugly, burdensome, expensive, and often destructive Washington, D.C., garbage — and won’t that be a thrill: