Can Trump and constitutional conservatism coexist?

His populist message, which put him over the top in critical Rust Belt states, pitted the working class against the Republican establishment and conservative intellectuals. He said he wanted to rein in spending and the deficit at the same time as he announced his intention to launch a huge infrastructure program and preserve entitlements. He pledged to lower taxes and cut regulations at home even as he vowed to step up the taxation and regulation of trade. He has committed himself both to rebuilding the U.S. military and reducing America’s role in ensuring the stability of the international order.

From the perspective of a constitutional conservatism, such tensions are at the heart of politics in a free society. The Constitution’s complex separation and blending of branches and levels of government not only constrain power, but also facilitate the accommodation of competing interests, the channeling of contending passions, and the balancing of essential principles.

The Constitution works to generate the moderation so often lacking in elected officials by curbing their ability to act without securing agreement across branches and by sometimes requiring supermajorities within the legislative branch.