As a conservative and a republican, like so many others, I have struggled with seeing an upside to this election. The idea of Hillary Clinton as president is simply depressing. And a Donald Trump presidency is unnerving. Whether Trump wins or loses, this election cycle can be construed as nothing other than a missed opportunity for a serious return of conservative leadership to the White House. And that’s a bummer, plain and simple.
But there is an upside should Trump become president, and it is this: liberals will rediscover the Constitution and the notion of separation of powers. Under President Obama, the left has been pleased to allow the executive branch of our government run roughshod over the American people with executive orders that mirror legislation which could never get passed, and with regulations that stifle businesses and families while pushing the bureaucratic class to expand and prosper. Imagine how progressives would feel while witnessing such presidential powers in the hands of Donald Trump. As there is no core of conservative principles, and given that his positions have been all over the map, conservatives and liberals alike would have a tough time predicting what President Trump would do when armed with Obama’s hubris and his flexible interpretation of executive power. Liberals would suddenly be quite interested in the details of Article II in the Constitution and the many powers which they will now learn are not conveyed to the president–because such powers are bestowed on other branches of the government or on the states themselves. Liberals will have a new-found respect for enumerated powers and will no doubt be quick to point out when President Trump colors outside of those lines.
If Obama goes back to being an adjunct, part-time ConLaw professor, I wonder if he’ll have to re-write his lesson plans to reflect the Constitution’s emphasis on limited government in general and on distinct, enumerated powers for the executive, judicial, and legislative branches with the latter being of chief importance among equals because of its close connection to the people.
I know, its not much of a consolation when weighed against the likely demise of republican conservatism. But seeing liberals become Constitutionalists would be a silver lining nonetheless. Unfortunately, I can see no silver lining in a Clinton presidency.