Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

acemoglu10_Brendan SmialowskiGetty Images_constitution Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The Constitution Won’t Save American Democracy

The US Constitution will not save American democracy from the depredations of President Donald Trump. Only American society, which has always been more democratic than the country's founders, can do that.

CAMBRIDGE – Revelations that a whistleblower from the intelligence community has accused US President Donald Trump of making inappropriate promises to a foreign leader have reignited the hopes that recently hung on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Many of those exasperated with Trump’s norm-violating, truth-bending, and polarizing presidency had believed that the system would somehow discipline, restrain, or remove him. Yet these hopes were misguided then, and they are misguided now.

The majority of voters who are fed up with Trump and the Republican Party that has loyally fallen behind him should not look to Washington insiders or a white knight to hold Trump accountable. That is society’s responsibility, first and foremost at the ballot box, and by protesting in the streets if necessary.

The conceit that the United States can be saved by Washington insiders and the Constitution is part of a common narrative about the origins of American institutions. According to this narrative, Americans owe their democracy and freedoms to founders’ brilliant, foresighted design of a system with the right types of checks and balances, separation of powers, and other safeguards.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/Cnzt1yy;
  1. pisaniferry106_Mark WilsonGetty Images_phase one agreement trump china  Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    Explaining the Triumph of Trump’s Economic Recklessness

    Jean Pisani-Ferry

    The Trump administration’s economic policy is a strange cocktail: one part populist trade protectionism and industrial interventionism; one part classic Republican tax cuts skewed to the rich and industry-friendly deregulation; and one part Keynesian fiscal and monetary stimulus. But it's the Keynesian part that delivers the kick.

    0
  2. yu49_ShengJiapengChinaNewsServiceVCGviaGettyImages_G20trumpjinpingshakehands Sheng Jiapeng/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

    PS Say More: Keyu Jin

    Keyu Jin assesses the “phase one” US-China trade deal, questions whether the US can ever accept China’s development model, and highlights a key difference in how the Hong Kong protests are viewed inside and outside China.
    0