So President Obama has officially and publicly announced that he finds Donald Trump unfit for the office of President, joining Hillary, many of the speakers at the Democratic convention, and some Republicans. Of course, the Democratic chorus of voices might have been more convincing had they not trumpeted the same rhetoric about Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, and George Bush in 2000 and 2004, but let us give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that this time around, they really mean it. If they truly believe that a Trump presidency would be ruinous, perhaps they should reconsider their views on conservatism and limited government.
Since at least the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal, the Democratic Party has attempted to advance its aims through the growth of government at large, and specifically through increasing the power of the federal government. A pinnacle of sorts has been reached by President Obama, who, tired of facing a GOP-controlled Congress resistant to his policy aims, has resorted to governing by executive order, rendering Congress increasingly irrelevant, and providing a dangerous precedent. Where Republicans have attempted to stop him, they have been ridiculed and attacked for opposing Obama’s policy aims.
Yet even liberals who share the President’s policy aims ought to feel uneasy about the means he is using. The system of checks and balances contained in our Constitution was crafted intentionally. The Founders rightly feared the passion of the masses, the “tyranny of the majority,” and recognized that concentrating power in any one branch of the government is a recipe for authoritarianism. They wanted the nascent United States to adhere to the federalist system, where the power of the federal government is limited by that of the states. Over the past eighty-some years, through the growth of welfare programs, federal civil rights legislation, judicial overreach, and executive power-grabs, this intricate system of federalism has been eroding. Democrats concerned over the potential of a President Trump may want to reconsider their blithe disregard of the dangers of an infinitely expanding federal (in general) and executive (specifically) bureaucracy. Perhaps James Madison was on to something.