America may be approaching a collision point with constitutional change that requires an approach not unlike the nation’s first such collision point arrived at in 1787 when the failure of the national government to maintain order, protect property, and provide public goods collided with an insurmountable amendment procedure. Republicans have long fancied themselves the great defenders of the Constitution. They may have succeeded in making that pretention a reality in 2016. Unfortunately, they may have done so in a way that will seriously hamper their capacity to be successful defenders.
Clinton and Trump will make all manner of claims about their personal positions and policy preferences, but the truth is that neither of them would be able to lead in the manner they claim. We live in a hyper-polarized political age that makes presidents party leaders first and foremost. Campaign claims about rising above party or bringing the warring sides together or the classic promise to “work across the isle” for the best interests of the American people are utter nonsense. Presidents today cannot be “uniters” on policy and voters who think the quality or content of our politics depends in any significant way on the identity of the President are living in an alternate reality.
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