The Atlantic: Trumpism Is the Symptom of a Gravely Ill Constitution

The Atlantic: Trumpism Is the Symptom of a Gravely Ill Constitution by Garrett Epps:

No matter what happens in November, the sickness may be terminal.

In less than two months, the American experiment in constitutional self-government may hit the wall of history. Even if the disaster of a Trump presidency is averted, this fall’s presidential campaign suggests that the United States Constitution is gravely, perhaps terminally, ill.

. . .

No other serious political program in American history has been as openly contemptuous of the nation’s founding document, of its Bill of Rights, and of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection.

Can those values survive four years of Trump? ‏ There’s not much reason to think that his own party will oppose anything he wants—the GOP leaders have already surrendered without a whimper. I suspect that he will find supporters within the bureaucracy, the intelligence community, federal law enforcement, and the American military. And Stanley Milgram’s “obedience to authority” experiment suggests that others, who know better, will simply stand aside as the toadies take over.

But even if America is spared President Trump, will the pathologies of the last year simply dissipate in a burst of national good feeling? Hardly. Trump was not a meteorite who has unexpectedly plunged to earth out of the uncharted depths of space; he is the predictable product of a sick system.

. . .

This interpretation is a post-constitutional pathology. The Constitution imposes lots of obligations, and affirms many values, that are apparent to any open-hearted reader. Step away from its values, and it imposes almost none.

(The conservative aversion to actually governing, interestingly enough, is not in evidence in states that they control. Legislators in red states are eager to suppress the vote, regulate women’s fertility and sexuality, roll back LGBT gains, silence criticism of agriculture, gut collective-bargaining rights, dismantle higher education, and strip away academic freedom. And state leaders truly in a hurry are eager to call a “convention of the states” and scrap the Constitution altogether.)

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