President Trump is easily the most deeply, passionately hated American political figure in my lifetime. No other nationally known politico — not Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, not Sarah Palin, not President George W. Bush in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — really even comes close. Among some people, at least, the wellspring of absolute loathing for Donald Trump is off the charts, and it’s causing them to say and do things that are amazing.
Consider, for example, this op-ed piece published last Friday in USA Today. One of their “opinion contributors” argues that President Trump has “broken the presidency” and that the office needs to be abolished. It’s not exactly a reasoned essay about constitutional principles and structural reforms in the government of our republic. Instead, the article says things like “[t]here is a bloated authoritarian lounging in his bathrobe in a 200-year-old mansion that used to symbolize the principal republic of the world” and “[i]f you’re stunned that President Donald Trump is still in office because he’s so horrible and so unpopular and so obviously corrupt — you are not alone — the overwhelming majority agrees with you.”
Clearly, the author thinks that President Trump is a very bad person . . . but what about the office of the presidency? Well, the writer argues that impeachment won’t solve the problem, because “[i]t’s never lived up to its promise” and has never removed a bad president from office. And her concern now that Trump holds the office is that the presidency has become so powerful that it is beyond repair: “My fear isn’t Trump; it’s that the next autocrat is most likely smarter and savvier than Trump. Every partisan from every niche of American politics should be alarmed. We have a branch of government that stinks so bad it’s wafted over the entire nation and its outer territories. The entire world sees it. We’re in trouble. The presidency is broken. Our little democratic experiment is in peril.” The answer, she suggests, is to follow the Swiss model, and replace the executive with a “council of boring bureaucrats.”
This alarmist piece in a national publication isn’t alone, it’s just one symptom of much bigger, deeper issue: how their disgust with everything President Trump does and stands for is causing some people to seriously advocate for actions that could affect the foundations of our republic. I’m not sure how serious the USA Today op-ed writer really is, but after more than 200 years and more than 40 Presidents, good and bad, I’d say the Office of the President can withstand the election of Donald Trump. And I wouldn’t like to even think about how a “council of boring bureaucrats” would have dealt with guiding the Union through the horrors of the Civil War, or leading the country forward to victory during World War II.
The people who hate President Trump are entitled to their views and have the right to express them vigorously. I just hope that everybody recognizes that there is a difference between a man and an office. We shouldn’t let our feelings for the current occupant cause us to make changes to how our government works that could have serious repercussions down the road.