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The only half-decent argument for keeping calm is that the Constitution was purpose-built to constrain a man like Trump. To see why the separation of powers still matters, just consider what Trump says he is going to do if he wins.
By the end of his first 100 days as president, Trump assured The New York Times recently, his wall along the Mexican border would be designed and his blanket ban on Muslim immigration would be in place. On Day 1, those American companies that have the temerity to employ people abroad would be threatened with punitive fines. Finally, Trump would impose an across-the-board tariff on Chinese imports. “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” he declared at a rally last weekend.
Now for the good news. He can do almost none of this if Congress opposes him. According to the Constitution (Article I, Section 8), it is not the president but Congress that has the power to regulate immigration, taxation, and trade. The president’s principal power lies in his being commander in chief of the armed forces. Even his right to make treaties is conditional on “the advice and consent” of the Senate.
In short, the Donald’s antiglobalization program depends on his being able to muster majorities in Congress. How easy is that going to be when the speaker of the House — a Republican — can’t bring himself to endorse Trump and the Democrats stand a good chance of retaking the Senate?
For this reason, Trump may have to focus on foreign policy from the get-go. And here’s where my worries really begin. For if there is one sure sign that a Trump presidency would be a disaster, it is the eagerness with which President Vladimir Putin looks forward to it.