The Constitution Isn't Failing


National Review - Contrary to what some on the left, checks and balances are working as they should.

A certain cohort of the center Left has never really liked the Constitution very much. I’m talking about the kind of technocratic Clinton-supporting liberal who would, say, rank all the amendments, or write a lengthy article arguing that the American system is doomed because it has a president and not a prime minister.

To give these people their due, I don’t think it’s that they have any real antipathy for the document: They just have their own priorities and have never been particularly enamored of the American experiment contra the Swedish experiment or the British experiment or the Slovenian experiment. To each his own, I suppose.

But inconveniently for our technocrats, the fact is that our Constitution really is an extraordinary document, and so cases against it tend to be either unapologetically radical or embarrassingly flimsy.

The center Left never being much for the radical, it opts instead for flimsiness. Lately, the argument has been circulating that the Trump phenomenon — that he was elected, that he probably will not be impeached in the immediate future, that he has the authority to fire special counsel Robert Mueller — serves as a final, sad testament to the failures of the Constitution.

“Here’s how it’ll roll,” tweeted New Republic writer Jeet Heer. “Trump will pardon himself, GOP will do nothing, USA constitution will be exposed, rightly, as a joke.” He later made some modest edits to the tweet after an avalanche of criticism, but it’s consistent with his longstanding view that the Constitution just isn’t equipped for the modern hyper-partisan era, a view well in line with that of such writers as, say, Vox’s Matthew Yglesias and Dylan Matthews, and with the endless claims that each new Trump development represents an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

The Constitution is a poor cks and balances presupposes that institutions such as Congress will place their constitutional mandate above partisan considerations. But this is a bad argument.

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