The Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, and many of the think-tanks and political organizations that allied with them, spent 25 years advocating for various expansions of presidential power, often based on the premise that some feature of the modern world required a muscular executive to get things done.
Critics who worried that the Constitution’s separation of powers was being subverted in ways that would ultimately haunt the country were dismissed by establishment conservatives, centrists, and progressives. “The founders’ anxieties about executive tyranny have proven erroneous,” Eric Posner wrote during Obama’s second term. “The president is kept in check by elections, the party system, the press, popular opinion, courts, a political culture that is deeply suspicious of his motives, term limits, and the sheer vastness of the bureaucracy which he can only barely control. He does not always do the right thing, of course, but presidents generally govern from the middle of the political spectrum.”
Because of those establishment elites and the myriad ways that they championed executive power at the expense of the legislature, whether with visions of pragmatic technocracy or “national greatness” or advancing “social justice,” Trump exercises far more control than he otherwise would over matters as diverse as war, foreign trade, international treaties, and military alliances.