Nothing personal

Thursday’s post introduced Saikrishna Prakash’s book The Living Presidency, which argues that some of the Constitution’s checks and balances have been lost. He’s a non-partisan constitutional scholar who is critical of overreach by all recent presidents, and from time to time by Congress and the courts. Prakash’s book goes beyond personalities to vital issues–a focus we urgently need.

Prakash helped me understand a shift in the nation’s thinking between the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the 1787 framing of the Constitution. In that decade, we suffered from an absence of central leadership and a weak Continental Congress. The political scene was dominated by raucous state legislatures. Some people advocated an American monarchy, an idea that horrified George Washington and was rejected by the Founders. The presidency they created had sufficient strength to function, tempered by clear restraints that Prakash argues have eroded over time.

While I have issues with the current president, they are issues, around which vigorous debate is essential for the health of the Republic. I wish Mr. Trump a happy and speedy retirement. For the next 191 days, I plan to lean on Prakash to remind me that it’s nothing personal.

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