That the Constitution makes the work of progressive ideologues frustrating is not an excuse for ignoring and subverting it. That the constitutional system will not acquiesce in its own debilitation is not a justification for debilitating it. Arguments for doing so amount to unprincipled excuses for lawlessness. They make elected officials less responsible, and they are expressions of an impatience with constitutional democracy, not a defense of it.
This is how mainstream liberalism now subverts and threatens our democracy. It is nothing new, but it has gotten significantly worse in the Obama years. It threatens to get only more so under Hillary Clinton, who makes no secret of wanting to use the powers of the presidency to further distort all three branches of our government to better enable liberal governance.
And it is not as though we are giving up government according to the constitutional template in favor of living under the wise edicts of an enlightened elite. The policies that the liberalism of our era yields are deeply unwise and often unjust, and their unwisdom and injustice are connected to their flouting of constitutional forms. Policies ordered by the courts are likely to be more extreme than the policies that would result from democratic give-and-take: Witness our abortion laws, some of the most permissive in the world. Policies developed by bureaucracies and imposed through subterfuge are likely to deform the institutions to which they are applied, as when universities start policing professors’ speech to compel compliance with the latest missive from Washington. Agencies are less likely to act with restraint when their projects have not been subject to the discipline of winning majority support in the House and the Senate as well as approval from the White House. Today’s version of progressive government — the version to which Clinton is committed — is bound to be experienced by millions of citizens as divisive, alienating, out of control, and even corrupt.
This truth hardly negates Donald Trump’s very significant problems. He, too, is not well suited to filling the role that our constitutional system envisions for the federal government’s chief executive. But it does mean that concern for our constitutional system and our democracy cannot amount to a case for Hillary Clinton. Trump could surely do great harm, though no one really knows what he would try to do or whether he would prove capable of doing much at all. Clinton, meanwhile, is an eager champion of a political vision deeply hostile to American constitutionalism and, unlike Trump, is also likely to be able to bring into power alongside her, or to retain in their positions, hundreds of other committed liberals who share that hostility and have the expertise and experience to do something about it from various politically appointed perches in the executive branch.