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“Government Stumps Trump”: Donald’s Lack Of Understanding Of The Government’s Basic Functions Is Distressing

It is democratic, not elitist, to believe that all citizens should understand the two bedrock principles – separation of powers and federalism – upon which the American government rests. The framers enshrined these precepts in our Constitution to protect our individual liberty. For when power is distributed – either across the governing branches or between the states and the national government – tyrants are frustrated.

Yet, during Tuesday’s town hall interview on CNN, Donald Trump – no mere citizen but the leading presidential candidate in the Republican Party – revealed once again his knowledge deficit about our political system.

For those who skipped that middle hour of nonsensical rhetoric, an Army veteran and current Marquette University student asked an important, albeit simple question, “What are the top three functions of the United States government?”

Trump was stumped. With the exception of national security, he couldn’t seem to think of what other key duties were within the federal government’s purview. What about promoting justice (equality under the law), encouraging interstate commerce and managing our international relations? What about, in language more common among the framers, ensuring “domestic tranquility“?

Simply put, he seemed to not understand that when our government was established, it had only three cabinet departments – Defense (War), State and Treasury – because these are the feds’ main jobs: conducting war, promoting peace and encouraging prosperity.

Further, the other two functions that Trump named – health care and education – are not only not central to the national government’s mission, but they are generally understood, by an overwhelming majority of conservatives, to be activities that fall within the states’ police power. In other words, Trump’s answers showed that his political ideology is much closer to Democratic presidential hopeful and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders than to former President Ronald Reagan.

Perhaps, it shouldn’t be surprising. Throughout his campaign and without much consequence, Trump has been dismissive of separation of powers, civil liberties and civil rights. In fact, the only time he has really been pressed on constitutional issues was when he was forced to walk back his bluster earlier this month, after he had wrongly assumed that a president could order the military to torture prisoners of war.

Still, as a political scientist who agrees with former President Harry Truman’s observation that “it takes a lifetime of experience to understand how much the Constitution means to our national life,” Trump’s willful ignorance of our system is both shocking and distressing.

The only good news is that if Trump were to become president (by some strange twist of fate), he would quickly learn that he is no match for our governing system. His ignorance would be our nation’s saving grace. The framers were extraordinarily wise men.

 

By: Lara Brown, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, March 31, 2016

April 1, 2016 - Posted by | Donald Trump, Federal Government, U. S. Constitution | , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Assuming that Trump becomes president and learns of the limits of his powers, I don’t think he’ll be the type of person to respect these limits. He’s The Donald, and laws are for the little people, not people like him.

    Like

    Comment by List of X | April 1, 2016 | Reply

    • And therein lies the problem!

      Like

      Comment by raemd95 | April 1, 2016 | Reply


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