OPINION | Trump didn't cause our constitutional crisis — he's the reaction against it
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Trump haters come in all shapes and sizes but one belief they all seem to hold in common is that the temerity of the American people in electing Donald Trump will lead, as night follows day, to a constitutional crisis.

What they missed is that the crisis is already here and it’s been brewing for years. It’s just not the one they’re looking for and, contrary to what Left wing commentators would say, Trump isn’t the cause of the crisis, he is the response to it.   

The swaggering outsider who promises to break-up the ruling cartel wasn’t supposed to win. How could he? But he did and that’s just not fair so they want to invoke the heckler’s veto that would overturn the last election — feel free to vote all you want, but if you elect someone unacceptable to the ruling class they will unite to destroy him and the people around him. Refusal to abide by election results is what creates a constitutional crisis.

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Yascha Mounk, a lecturer at Harvard, is representative of ruling class opposition to Trump. In a recent op-ed he asserted flatly: “We are headed toward a constitutional crisis. Why else would Donald Trump violate one of the few constitutional norms he has not yet obliterated by asking naval officers to take a partisan position at a ceremonial event? Why else would he keep repeating that he has the power to pardon anyone he wants — including himself — for any reason at all? And why else would he and his associates be launching one trial balloon after another about firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller?”

He offers three supporting anecdotes. The first is at best a distortion. The second asks a question that a Harvard lecturer should be able to answer, to whit, that the president does in fact have the power to pardon “anyone he wants.” That particular piece of secret knowledge is available for his edification in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution — a document not much read or respected on the Left which prefers the amorphous, ever changing notion of “constitutional law” which can be altered for any reason or no reason at all by a single federal judge.

Likewise, the president has the power to hire and fire the officers of the Department of Justice at will. They work for him. If President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: Meetings on potential North Korea summit going 'very well' Freed American 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after being released from Venezuela Ivanka Trump to campaign for Devin Nunes in California MORE ever ordered the dismissal of Robert Mueller he would be within his constitutional rights. It might be good politics or bad, but that’s why we have elections. Voters will make that decision as is both their duty and sole right.

That’s the nub of the real political crisis: Elections. They’re messy and somebody has to lose. That doesn’t sit well in a society that gives kids participant trophies rather than teaching them how to lose with grace, which is why the attacks on Trump — which are also an attack on the 63 million Americans who voted for him — are nothing but a tantrum. It is a dangerous tantrum that threatens to further alienate voters who already think the game is rigged against them. At some point that alienation threatens to undermine the legitimacy of the regime itself.

The fundamental question of politics is always, who rules? Will it be voters acting in their constitutional majority or will it be ruling class elites who seem content to abide by election results only when they ratify the predetermined outcomes?

Mounk continues: “If Trump ever truly overstepped the bounds of his constitutional authority, or colluded with a foreign power, the assumption went, public opinion would rapidly and decisively swing against him. His approval ratings would plummet. Republican senators and congressmen would withdraw their support. If necessary, they would even vote for him to be impeached. Obviously, this optimistic prediction simply hasn’t materialized.”

Mounk hopes that Moderate Republicans(™) would “make it abundantly clear that they would pull all support for Trump and his agenda if he fires Mueller or pardons the potential subjects of his investigation.”

But why would congressional Republicans withdraw their support from, say, tax reform or the enforcement of immigration laws based on what any president did? This is where Mounk gives away the game.

The attacks on Trump aren’t about any real or imagined crimes, they are about gaining political advantage to stop the implementation of his agenda. In other words, they are politics by any means necessary: Burn it down, salt the earth, just don’t let Republicans enact their policy goals. And he wonders why voters turned on Hillary, turned on establishment Republicans and elected a man who promised to drain the swamp.

He goes on to chide congressional Republicans for “aiding and abetting (the president’s) assault on the American Constitution” without deigning to cite a single example. Why not? Because no one has evidence of such an act. Rather, what offends ruling class mandarins about Trump and his voters is his agenda, but they lost that debate at the polls so they changed the subject to Trump the man rather than his policies.

They think they can win with that one but they’re wrong about that too. Disaffected middle class voters have had to live with the real world depredations of the utopian policies supported by both parties for the past generation and the only thing they care about is the policies.

Yet, while the commentariat fantasizes about the violation of legal norms on the part of Trump and his supporters, real world abuses pile up. In Congress, Democrats continue to block the work of the House Ethics Committee with regard to alleged leaker Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff: Trump should worry less about Chinese jobs and more about national security WikiLeaks's Assange reportedly offers to show Schiff ‘there was no collusion’ Schiff on Trump's 'spygate' claims: He is asserting an imagined world is real MORE (D-Calif). They’ve also refused to hold a vote on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-Calif.) case because such a vote would exonerate him — and that doesn’t fit the narrative.

And what of recent disclosures that Fusion GPS, the firm that created the so-called Trump dossier that was chock full of scandalous but wholly unsubstantiated allegations, was not only working for Trump’s domestic political opponents, but also for the Russians? For the past year we’ve been harangued with breathless claims that the president and his associates had struck a corrupt bargain with “the Russians” but so far the only evidence of an American-Russian alliance in political dirty tricks points to the Democrats. Funny that. But it is more evidence that the American Left has mastered and what psychiatrists call projection: If you want to know what Democrats are really doing, just look at the allegations they make against Republicans.

Anti-constitutional forces that openly flout the law working overtime in the United States but despite the baying in the mainstream media they are the almost exclusive province of the American Left. Witness John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, calling on the nation’s spies to defy the commander in chief, local mayors purporting to nullify federal law by creating so-called sanctuary cities, and rogue federal judges attempting to block the president’s clear right and duty to defend the nation’s borders. All this with barely a hat tip to the law or the Constitution — the written one, not the so-called “living Constitution” they imagine justifies all of their political prejudices.

For rank and file Republicans, Trump is just as much a response to the ineffectual conservative intellectual establishment and the impotent, often dishonest, Republican elected class as he is to the Left’s attempts to fundamentally change America. Recall last week’s murder on the Senate floor of Republicans’ seven-year-long campaign to repeal ObamaCare. It was killed not by minority Democrats but by the hand of Republicans who had run for re-election on the promise of repeal. Et tu John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTo woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action Senate panel again looks to force Trump’s hand on cyber warfare strategy Senate panel advances 6B defense policy bill MORE?

Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to James Madison in 1787, just months before the Constitution was ratified that contains the oft quoted line, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” What is not often quoted is the next sentence:

“Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."

The voter rebellion that propelled the Republican takeover of the House of Representative in 2010 was the vanguard of the broader rebellion that put Donald Trump in the White House. Self-interested elites want to quash the rebellion because they instinctively know that Jefferson was right: If they do, then the encroachments on the people’s rights that sparked it will be permanently established.

The Trump rebellion, like all political rebellions, is about who rules. That’s why it is so important that it succeed.

Chris Buskirk is the editor & publisher of American Greatness and the co-author of the new book of the same name on the 2016 election.


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