The Constitution Won’t Save American Democracy
The US Constitution will not save American democracy from the depredations of President Donald Trump. Only American society, which has always been more democratic than the country's founders, can do that.
CAMBRIDGE – Revelations that a whistleblower from the intelligence community has accused US President Donald Trump of making inappropriate promises to a foreign leader have reignited the hopes that recently hung on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Many of those exasperated with Trump’s norm-violating, truth-bending, and polarizing presidency had believed that the system would somehow discipline, restrain, or remove him. Yet these hopes were misguided then, and they are misguided now.
The majority of voters who are fed up with Trump and the Republican Party that has loyally fallen behind him should not look to Washington insiders or a white knight to hold Trump accountable. That is society’s responsibility, first and foremost at the ballot box, and by protesting in the streets if necessary.
The conceit that the United States can be saved by Washington insiders and the Constitution is part of a common narrative about the origins of American institutions. According to this narrative, Americans owe their democracy and freedoms to founders’ brilliant, foresighted design of a system with the right types of checks and balances, separation of powers, and other safeguards.