“Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”
-Chesterton [1]

Ever since a Trump Presidency entered into the realm of possibility, people have been coming out of the woodwork screaming to high heavens about the coming end of American Democracy. I for one, don’t buy it.

Nobody, including I suspect Mr. Trump himself, knows what a Trump Presidency would look like. We can speculate until the end of time, but the fact is, the man has never held high public office. We do not know how he will act. On the one hand, he says some very nutty things on the campaign trail. However, he has spent most of his life as a salesman and entertainer, he may very well be putting on a “show” to make the “sale”, he has after all shown a masterful ability to dominate the news cycle. I do not think it is beyond belief to think that a Trump Presidency would be a mess, or on the other hand that a President Trump would prove an effective Reagan like executive by surrounding himself by experts and advisers. Point being, we don’t know, and anybody who says they do is lying to you.

Even if Mr. Trump is as bad as his harshest critics believe he is, the Republic will endure. If Donald Trump is enough to bring American Democracy to its knees, we lost our democracy decades ago. Donald Trump cannot destroy our political system, that power is reserved for the people alone.

“Well, Doctor, what we have got— a Republic or a Monarchy?”
“A Republic, if you can keep it.”
-Benjamin Franklin [2]

For the sake of argument, let us say Mr. Trump is as bad as could be imagined. Let us say he actually wants to “ban Islam”. That won’t happen, and do you know why? My progressive friends, that won’t happen because you and the representatives you elect won’t let it happen. That won’t happen because the constitution is very clear on certain things, non-restriction of religion being one of them. The POTUS is one man, whose actions are restrained by the Legislature, the Courts, the Constitution, and our federalist system.

That is the beauty of our political system. One president cannot send the whole thing off the rails. The system is built in such a way that it will restrain powerful executives, over reaching legislatures, and even dangerous populist movements. We have in this country, what is at its basest level, a conservative system, in the classic sense of the word, meaning it is resistant to change.

There is always a lot of talk every cycle about “If so-and-so wins the presidency, I’m moving to Canada”. To the contrary, it is your absolute duty as an American to stay and be the voice of opposition, without opposition, the system does not function. My progressive friends if you leave the country during a Trump Presidency, your voice is no longer counted. Why has President Obama’s second term been largely ineffectual? Not because the conservative base fled the country in the face of a progressive president, because they voted, and made their voices heard. Progressives, you and your votes can defang a Trump Administration with the greatest of ease.

Assuming the worst of Mr. Trump, the only way he could truly wreak our Democracy, is if the very people who are most strongly against him check out of the political system. Democrats and progressives, the choice is yours, not Mr. Trump’s. You are the opposition; you decide on the efficacy of a Republican Administration, just as the Republicans decided the efficacy of the Obama Administration. The supporters of populist movements do not define history, rather it is the opposition (or lack there-of), who dictate the course of nations.

Donald Trump does not scare me, because I believe in this country and this system. Checks and balances, and separation of powers will force President Trump to the center, or leave him and his administration on the sidelines of history. The worst-case scenario I can see playing out is four years of an ineffectual, deadlocked government, which while not positive, is not the death of the nation. Realistically a Trump Presidency would be remarkably mundane, or mildly entertaining, but not disastrous. The Republic survived the assassination of Lincoln and JFK, Watergate, the Clinton Impeachment, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and 9/11; the Republic can survive Mr. Trump.

“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults”
– Tocqueville [3]

—-

[1] Orthodoxy, GK Chesterton, p.88
[2] Benjamin Franklin at the close of the Constitutional Convention, 1787
[3] Democracy in American, Alexis de Tocqueville Ch. XIII

Cover Image Royalty Free Courtesy of Chris Erisman

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