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The Founders saved us from Trump's excesses—but the left still wants to overturn their system
The Founders designed a system of checks and balances to constrain and channel passion. Leftists often critique this as anti-democratic. They want to give less power to the Supreme Court or to abolish the Senate.
That's how I used to argue.
In the Federalist Papers, James Madison stated the need to “break and control the violence of faction”. He specified that is a concern even if—or perhaps better, especially if—the “faction” is a majority. Contrast what Robespierre would say: “the people are good, and…their delegates are corruptible; …it is to the virtue and sovereignty of the people that we must look”.
Until the rise of Trumpism, I accepted the interpretation of Madison’s approach as being concerned with the preservation of entrenched wealth and the curtailing of “the people” to prevent progressive change. Trump’s elevation to the presidency required the institution of the Electoral College, rather than a strict majoritarian principle. However, the Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives (and while the number of seats they won was increased by contra-majoritarian things like the federal system, they did win more votes overall). Of course, there are too many counterfactuals to even imagine how people would have voted in 2016 if there had only been the House and no constraints, but to imagine Trumpism or something like it could never elect the majority of the candidates is seriously short-sighted.
In the kind of electoral system most leftists want, Trumpism would've been unconstrained in 2016.
How much more strongly Republicans in the House supported Trump than ones in the Senate.
How the House overturned the ACA but the Senate stopped it.
How House Republicans stormed a secure information room on October 23, 2019 with the Senate generating intelligence reports considered to be fair and above board.
In sum, the representatives most exposed to the people were the most corrupted by passion.
Further, without judicial review, initiatives like the Muslim ban would have been carried out without restraint. The left should reflect on this before continuing to delegitimize the Supreme Court.
When I read Robespierre declare for the fatherland and contrast the “peasant” Rousseau to the “academician” Condorcet, I hear Trump (see Report on the Principles of Political Morality, February 5, 1794). His evidence against Condorcet was that Condorcet criticized him. So opposition to himself is conflated with monarchial conspiracies. To speak against the policies of the leader is to speak against the “virtue” of the forgotten people. Robespierre had the power to punish such dissent, Trump would like it.
If the left stands with Robespierre in these matters and against James Madison, it is paving the way for Trump or something worse.