Donald Trump is President-elect. And some people are very upset about that.
Like, take to the streets in protest and signing petitions to completely upend the democratic process we have followed for two and half centuries, kind of upset.
And I understand where they are coming from. I’m not particularly happy about a President Donald Trump either. I am nervous about what that entails. He is a vulgar, offensive, infuriating, impulsive, out of control, and in many ways, a despicable human being whose faults are too numerous to mention. I’m not happy about having Donald Trump as President. I’m not saying I would have preferred a Hillary Clinton president. She has a different, but just as long and terrifying, list of issues that gave me just as many, if not more, misgivings, than Donald Trump. I was scared of both of them. When I went into the ballot box to cast my vote, I did so knowing I was going to be scared of the outcome, even if the one I voted for won. The people lamenting that America made the “wrong” decision on election day don’t realize that America made the wrong decision back during the primaries, on both sides. At that point the cards were already stacked in the “wrong” direction, no matter which way we went. On November 8th there was no right decision to make, there were only wrong decisions, and the election was more about deciding which was the least wrong.
I understand that people are upset about Donald Trump. I am too. But what I don’t understand, is the extent to which people are wailing about it. The complete and utter hopelessness that many people are expressing. They think that Donald Trump as President spells the certain doom of America.
Good news people, Donald Trump will not destroy America. Not because he will all-of-the-sudden turn out to be a great guy, though I hope the weight the office will sober him up. Donald Trump will not destroy America, because the President, no matter who they are, just doesn’t have enough power to do that.
If you don’t believe me, then read the Constitution. It spells out exactly what the President has power to do. When the founding fathers laid the foundation for our republic, they had just broken free from the tyranny of Great Britain, and their King. They knew all too well the dangers of putting too much power in the hands of one person. So, they established a system of government with checks and balances to ensure that no one person, or even group of people, have absolute control over anything. They established three branches of government (1) The Legislative branch, made up of the Senate and House of Representatives (Congress), which is tasked with creating laws (2) The Executive Branch, headed by the President, to execute the laws created by Congress (3) The Judicial Branch, made up of the Supreme Court and all of the lower courts, which make rulings based on the laws enacted by Congress.
It’s a brilliant system really. Those who create the laws do not execute the laws. Those who execute the laws do not make rulings on them or enforce punishment for breaking them. Each of the steps of establishing a lawful society are taken by three different, and independent branches. In addition, even the steps that each branch takes, has oversight from the other branches. The President has veto power over laws passed by Congress, and the Supreme Court can overrule a law passed by Congress if un-constitutional. Much of what the President does is subject to approval of Congress, and the President is even subject to impeachment by Congress. And both the President and Congress have say over who gets appointed to the Supreme Court. Under this system, outright tyranny is almost impossible.
The President, as head of the Executive Branch has limited power. His job is mainly to execute the laws enacted by Congress, conduct foreign relations, and act as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He cannot create laws, that’s the job of Congress. He cannot make any rulings on laws, that’s the job of the Courts. He cannot entirely prevent laws from being passed, even his veto power can be overturned if Congress is dead-set on passing a law. Even as commander-in-chief, his power is limited, in that he doesn’t have the power to declare war without the approval of Congress. The Constitution by design does not give the President that much power. The Constitution actually gives the majority of the power to Congress, not the President. Which is why the effectiveness of a President is determined more by his ability to work well with Congress than anything else.
So liberals can calm down a little bit. Donald Trump cannot single handedly throw out all the Muslims. He cannot single handedly change policies of immigration. He cannot single handedly overturn laws or rulings on abortion (if only), same sex marriage, or gun control. He cannot single handedly declare higher or lower federal minimum wages. He really can’t single handedly do anything. As much as the anti-Trumpers out there might cry out with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, he simply cannot, and will not, undue all of the supposed progress that they hold dear. He simply doesn’t have that kind of power.
The writers of the Constitution did this on purpose. In addition to protecting against tyranny, it was inevitable that we would have a “Donald Trump” elected to the office eventually, and they wrote the Constitution to limit his power just for that reason. The office of the President is designed to be so weak that even if Adolf Hitler himself were elected to the office, the nation would still be able to survive it. It wouldn’t be pretty, or pleasant I’m sure, but there would be no anti-Jewish laws, no concentration camps, no holocaust, and no quest for world domination. And the nation would certainly not implode.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to minimize the importance of the President. The President is important, and it is a profoundly serious and important job. The President does have ability and power to do tremendous good for the nation, and whoever is elected President has the duty and responsibility to use that power to the best of their ability. And I know that the President can do a decent amount of harm. But my point is that there is a limit to just how harmful the President can be. A good President at his best, who can work well with Congress, can accomplish a lot of good. A bad President at his worst, typically will simply accomplish nothing, because Congress will hold him back, as it is supposed to.
Donald Trump will not destroy America. But I can tell you what could destroy America.
Trump supporters gloating over Hillary’s surprising and embarrassing defeat, giving liberals a giant middle finger as they do it, could destroy America.
Anti Trumpers degrading anyone who voted for Trump as uneducated racists, sexists, misogynists, bigots, homophobes, transphobes, and every other -ist and -phobe in the dictionary, could destroy America.
Trump supporters mocking those overcome with grief, taking to the streets in protest, or staging “cry-ins” on college campuses as a bunch of whiny, childish, brats, could destroy America.
Anti Trumpers wanting to completely throw away two and a half centuries of the Electoral College, without truly understanding its purpose, and signing petitions to get the Federal Government to overturn the results of a free and fair election, could destroy America.
Trump supporters who try to act as though they were little angles when Barak Obama was elected, even when we know they haven’t stopped whining about it for the last 8 years, could destroy America.
Anti Trumpers who act as though the only “scandalous” thing about Hillary Clinton was her deleted emails, completely disregarding the host of real and serious issues that her detractors saw, could destroy America.
Anyone who throws away friendships and family over who they did or did not vote for could destroy America.
Our insistence on letting our differences of ideas and opinions turn friends into enemies with an ever deepening chasm of divisiveness growing between us could destroy America.
Donald Trump will not destroy America. But our reaction to Donald Trump could.
We need to stop fighting. We need to stop vilifying those with opposing viewpoints or ideologies. We need to realize that the internet is not a place with faceless, emotionless drones, but with real flesh and blood people who can be deeply impacted by words that are carelessly flung across social media. We need to be more mindful about what we say, how we say it, and why we say it. We need to stop the hate that is coming from both the left and the right.
We don’t have to agree on everything. We don’t have to see eye-to-eye on everything. We don’t gather around a camp-fire and sing “cumbia”. We don’t even have to like everyone.
But we need to get along. We need to respect those who disagree with us. We need to care about those who do things we don’t particularly care for. We need to actually try and understand opposing ideas, even if in the end we still can’t accept them. We need to realize that even if we don’t agree on how we get there, our objectives are the same: the peace and prosperity of our nation.
If we don’t start doing these things, if we continue to let our differences in thoughts and opinions divide us, if we continue to breed hate for those who don’t think like us, we will rip our country apart at the seams. It is already happening, with racial tensions escalating and riots and violence breaking out all over the place. If we don’t stop, we will have another Civil War on our hands, but the lines won’t be conveniently drawn between North and South, but through every single neighborhood, in every single city, in every single state across the whole nation. We won’t be divided between “here and there”, we will be divided everywhere.
The President doesn’t have the power to destroy America. But we are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. “We the People” have tremendous power, more so than we realize. And “We the People” could destroy America if we continue to behave like animals.
We know You are sovereign over all. We know from Your Word that no powers are in place that are not placed there by You. Many of us are lost and confused as to why you would allow someone like Donald Trump to become president. Help us to remember that Your ways are greater than our ways, that Your wisdom is greater than our wisdom. Help us to remember that You are ultimately in control. Help us to trust you in this seemingly dark time.
Please lay your hands on Donald Trump. Whether we supported him or not, he is going to be our leader, and he desperately needs your guidance and your wisdom. Please soften his heart, and open his mind to your influence so that he can become the leader that we need him to be.
Heal our nation in these coming days. Help us to band together, not fall apart. Help us to have hope, not fall into despair. Help us to find peace, not conflict. Help us to realize that though we disagree on so much, we agree on one thing, our love for our country. Help us to unite behind our common goal, the peace and prosperity of our nation.
Please bless our nation!