With the election Tuesday of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States, many are hoping that the first non-politician, non-veteran to occupy the Oval Office will bring a fresh approach to his administration, one more committed to complying to the Constitution’s limits on executive power.
President-elect Trump may indeed turn out to be faithful to his oath of office, breaking the tradition of so many generations of his predecessors.
So many of those who sat in the seat he will soon occupy, violated their oaths and the limits on their power imposed by the states when they ratified the Constitution. They used presidential directives, executive orders, and signing statements to legislate, consolidating immense power in the presidency, power never meant to be wielded by one man.
In an article published November 11 by the Foundation for Economic Education, Trevor Burris explains the Founders’ intent in creating the office of president and the limits they purposefully placed on the power that position would be granted:
Constitutionally limited government exists to protect the freedom of the citizens from the vicissitudes of democratic rule. The Framers of the Constitution knew that a person of George Washington’s caliber would not always be chosen president. They knew about demagoguery and populism. James Madison, in particular, was terrified of how voters in states could be swept up in waves of populist fury and, in the process, enact policies damaging to the long-term prosperity and freedom of the people.
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