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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Trump v. Madison

At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake reports on Trump's view of our constitutional system:
In an interview with Fox News airing Friday night, Trump dismissed the “archaic” rules of the House and Senate — using that word four times — and suggested they needed to be streamlined for the good of the country.
A sampling:
  • “We don't have a lot of closers in politics, and I understand why: It's a very rough system. It's an archaic system.”
  • “You look at the rules of the Senate, even the rules of the House — but the rules of the Senate and some of the things you have to go through — it's really a bad thing for the country, in my opinion. They're archaic rules. And maybe at some point we're going to have to take those rules on, because, for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be different.”
  • “You can't go through a process like this. It's not fair. It forces you to make bad decisions. I mean, you're really forced into doing things that you would normally not do except for these archaic rules.”
William Kristol sums it up:

In the concluding essay of Is Congress Broken? The Virtues and Defects of Partisanship and Gridlock, William Connelly and I offer an alternative view:
Today’s critics of Congress argue it moves too slowly and passes too few bills. But from a Madisonian perspective, the real question is not speed or quantity of legislation but the quality of deliberation. Similarly, the issue of representation is not whether Congress reflects the polls but whether it heeds deliberative opinion. And oversight is not just about preventing tyranny but keeping the executive within its proper bounds so that it can do what it does best.

To think constitutionally is to keep these ideas in mind no matter which party controls which branch. In 1990, Representative Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.) offered some far-sighted advice. Although his party had held the White House for nearly a decade and had not controlled the House since 1954, he defended congressional prerogatives. “I am frustrated by continued liberal domination of the Congress. . . . …. But there was a reason why wits of earlier ages cautioned us not to toss out the babies when we dump the bath water. Let us reform the Congress, but let us hold it dear as the guardian of our liberties against the centralization of power.”