Have Republicans grown tired of supporting the rule of law?

Conservatives and Republicans, by contrast, have traditionally stood for the rule of law — with all of its frustrations and inefficiencies. Respect for the rule of law is more precious than any given policy outcome. If we are not, as John Adams said, a “government of laws and not of men” we will soon drift into the kind of despotism that characterizes nations without a strong legal tradition. Putinism is destroying what is best in Russia. Peronism devastated Argentina. Franco crushed liberty in Spain for half a century. The Castro brothers have imposed their tyranny on Cuba for longer than that. The list of countries that succumbed to Caesarism is very, very long.

The appeal of Trump falls into this category. Though one might suppose that his borderline pathological narcissism, his arrested emotional development, and his nearly incoherent ramblings would exclude him from consideration for county clerk, he sits atop the GOP field. The message from a segment of the Republican party is: “Okay, we’re an autocracy now. So let’s have this guy govern by fiat.”

Unless the rest of the Republican party makes a different case — namely that the answer to Obamaism is a return to law — it may be game over for self-government in the world’s oldest democracy.