Feehery: Losing faith in the people and the Constitution

Feehery: Losing faith in the people and the Constitution
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“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”

So wrote H.L. Mencken, in his book “Notes on Democracy.”

The American experiment is an exercise in trusting the collective wisdom of the majority of voters who participate in our electoral process, as laid out under our Constitution.


Either you believe in that constitutional process or you don’t.

If you get yourself elected to the United States Congress, you swear an oath to the Constitution, promising that you “will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Defending the Constitution means playing by the rules as laid out in the document, as amended over our national history, through the consent of the people.

Under our Constitution, as designed by our founders and amended through history, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE was dutifully elected president.

You may or may not like that fact. He might be a messenger from God or he might be a sign of the zombie apocalypse, in your opinion. It makes no real difference one way or the other. He won fair and square, and he’s the president.

Under tradition and under law, the president has tremendous power, most of which Congress has willingly given to the executive branch. In my opinion, the legislative branch has given too much power to the president and not done an effective enough job of preserving its own powers. The power to wage war on our enemies and to slap tariffs on our trading partners are but two examples of where the president has been given too much authority by an ineffectual and too internally conflicted Congress.


None of this is the fault of Trump, who inherited a powerful executive branch from his predecessors and who is doing the job of president effectively, if unconventionally.

Trump has the right to hire or fire anybody he wants who works for him, especially ambassadors and White House staff. He can tweet whatever he wants, no matter how unwise. He can pursue the kind of foreign policy he desires. He can upbraid our allies or cozy up to former enemies. He can read briefing papers presented to him by the National Security Council or he can watch Fox News instead.

He can do all of that because he is the one elected president. He was the one who put his name on the ballot, who travelled around the country, rallying voters, making bold campaign promises to restore the economy, get better trade deals and control our border with Mexico.

You may or may not like this president. And polls show that a slight majority really don’t like him.

Trump’s popularity numbers should give his opponents some hope for the future. The election is coming and the voters once again have a chance to decide the fate of the country.

But the president’s fiercest opponents have lost faith in the collective wisdom of the American people just as they have lost faith in the electoral process designed by our Constitution.

And thus, we have impeachment.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said over the weekend that the president “would do everything he can to make it not a fair election,” making an expeditious impeachment more urgent for Democrats.

That echoes what his colleague, Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenRemoving slurs, bigotry from places on our maps paves the way to remove them from all aspects of our lives Safeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt The Memo: Trump furor stokes fears of unrest MORE (D-Texas), said earlier this year, when he said he was “concerned if we don’t impeach this president, he will get reelected.”

If the new economic numbers are any indication, it will be awfully hard to beat Trump. It’s hard enough to beat an incumbent president, who usually has a substantial fundraising advantage and the power that comes through incumbency.

It’s even more difficult to beat an incumbent when the economy is booming.

Impeachment is a troubling sign that the president’s opponents no longer trust the common wisdom of the American people nor our electoral system as envisioned by our founders.

That might be music to Mencken’s ear, but it is bad for the country.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: The fog of the election Feehery: Trumpism will survive, no matter what happens on Election Day Feehery: Don't believe the polls — this election is far from over MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).