Yesterday, I took issue with Charles Krauthammer’s claim that Donald Trump, if elected president, would likely undermine our open and free international order. I argued that Trump thinks pretty conventionally about world affairs, and thus as president, though prone to the errors of conventional wisdom, would not be a threat to world order.
I also complained that Krauthammer did not consider whether Hillary Clinton poses a threat to our domestic order. In his pre-election column criticizing both candidates, he focused solely on Clinton’s character — a target rich environment to be sure, but only part of the story.
Regarding Trump on foreign policy, Krauthammer wrote:
Two generations of Americans have grown up feeling that international stability is as natural as the air we breathe. It’s not. It depends on continual, calibrated tending. . . .
It took seven decades to build [an] open, free international order. It could be brought down in a single presidential term.
True. But our system of ordered liberty and constitutional governance, the product of 200 years of effort, also depends on continual tending. It too could be brought down by our next president.
The left has been trying to bring it down for decades, arguably since at least the days of Woodrow Wilson, who explicitly rejected our founding principles. President Obama was equally explicit in declaring his desire to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” The transformation he and his fellow leftists have in mind is well summarized in this piece by John Fonte and this one by John Marini.
Fortunately, Obama has been constrained to some extent by a Republican House (and at times a Republican Senate), backed up by a Supreme Court in ideological equipoise. The Supreme Court has been crucial because without it, Obama could simply ignore Congress and routinely get away with it.
Obama’s executive amnesty, which he originally thought he couldn’t pull off because he is “not a dictator,” is a great example. When Congress refused to rewrite immigration law, Obama rewrote it via executive order. However, the Supreme Court, by a 4-4 vote, thwarted Obama’s usurpation of power.
In a Hillary Clinton administration, the Supreme Court will cease to serve this function. Five (and probably more, eventually) left-wing activists in robes will rubber stamp her executive orders and other power grabs, as four of them tried to do in the executive amnesty case.
What should we expect from a Clinton administration unconstrained by the Supreme Court? Fonte gives us a pretty good idea:
Hillary Clinton will consolidate and expand Obama’s “fundamental transformation.” America will see both an increase in power for the administrative state, which will breech the parchment barriers of the separation of powers and federalism, and the relentless advance of identity politics, which undermines our traditional civic morality centered on the concept of individual American citizenship. . . .
Besides appointments to a sharply divided Supreme Court, the next president will appoint scores of lower court judges and U.S. attorneys, the Attorney General, and lawyers in the Justice Department and throughout the federal agencies. There is every reason to expect that the Clinton Legal Behemoth will push the legal envelope with a vengeance on: Obamacare; climate change; green energy; guns; coal; international law; housing [e.g., AFFH]; education; immigration; gender, racial, ethnic, and linguistic disparities; and, of course, expanding the administrative state’s scope and power to the detriment of the separation of powers and federalism.
One could well imagine a legal Blitzkrieg against political critics like Dinesh D’Souza, sheriffs who enforce immigration law like Joe Arpaio, climate skeptics, conservative activists, fossil-fuel industry executives, Christians, purveyors of alleged “hate speech,” and perceived enemies of social justice and ethnic/gender equity.
The last quoted paragraph is speculative, though hardly far-fetched. The first two paragraphs are, I think, beyond dispute.
In concluding that Trump’s liabilities “outweigh” Clinton’s, it appears from his column that Krauthammer ignored Clinton’s domestic leftism and focused solely on her character. If so, he’s not alone, and that’s frightening.
After eight years of Obama, preceded by decades of liberal encroachments on liberty, it’s possible to view Hillary Clinton as conventional. We have been swimming in increasingly overheated waters long enough to miss the very real possibility that we are about to reach the boiling point.
A Hillary Clinton presidency might well take us there.
What about a Trump presidency? Is the obnoxious tycoon more committed to ordered liberty and the Constitution than Hillary Clinton?
In the abstract, quite possibly not. But Trump isn’t out to transform America. Thus, the Constitution is much less of a barrier to his ambitions.
Trump is a fan of neither the administrative state nor identity politics — the two main drivers of the assault on our freedom. This doesn’t mean he wouldn’t buck Congress or try to stifle dissent from time to time. But if he did, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, backed up by a vigilant Supreme Court, could be expected to thwart him. Under Hillary, there would be no such coalition, no such Court, and very little thwarting.
This evening, Hillary Clinton is in Philadelphia, site of America’s founding, claiming that Donald Trump is a threat to “our very Republic.” In reality, our form of government will be in greater jeopardy under a President Hillary Clinton than under a President Donald Trump.