Mark Medish, President of The Messina Group, co-authored an essay for Just Security about the threat that President Trump’s unrestricted powers pose to our democracy. Medish and Joel McCleary outline three potential paths the President may take to acquire the absolute electoral power he strives for.
“There are many constitutional debates about ‘original intent’ of the American founders – including whether the idea of original intent makes any sense at all. What is absolutely clear is that the drafters’ intent could not and did not advocate presidential tyranny. The spirit of 1776 and the bill of particulars against the abuses of King George III would not allow it. The system of checks and balances was designed to prevent it. The supervening purpose of the constitutional contract among the new states was precisely to guard against despotism at any level.
Exiting the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was supposedly asked by fellow citizens, ‘What do we have, a republic or a monarchy?’ He replied with a warning: ‘a republic, if you can keep it.” Of the American presidency, Franklin further observed, “The first man put at the helm will be a good one. Nobody knows what sort may come afterwards… The executive will always be increasing here, as elsewhere, till it ends in monarchy.’
We still have the chance to take Franklin’s warning not as a prophecy but as a call to democratic action.“