The American presidency is as much about the traditions of the office as it is about what's sanctioned in Article II of the Constitution. Traditions established by previous chief executives radiate to subsequent ones, regardless of party. Like it or not, this is our system and time has proved that it mostly works. (How many constitutions has, say, Italy had in the last 50 years alone?) Now, sit and ponder the notion of a reality show circus clown like Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office and unleashing all forms of crazy into world, not to mention the bloodstream of the presidency itself.
Even though the GOP appears to have nothing but disdain for Trump's involvement in the nomination process, he's really only building upon the carpet-bombing politics they've played throughout the last 15 years, culminating in the last six. The Republican Party has rejected the traditions of statesmanship and negotiation -- of legislating and bargaining -- and exchanged it for unprecedented ridiculousness.
Instead of finding a way to compromise with the Obama White House, Mitch McConnell instead announced after the 2008 election that his sole agenda item would be to make sure Obama was a one-term president. The de facto leader of the party in 2009, Rush Limbaugh, likewise wished for Obama to fail, which, in turn, would've meant the utter failure of the economy. Rather than being grown-ups and understanding what many progressives knew at the time -- that Obama began his negotiations closer to the center than the left -- the Republicans opted instead to choose obstructionism and obstructionism alone. Hell, the Affordable Care Act was a Republican idea -- devised by the likes of Bob Dole and Chuck Grassley and implemented at the state level by Mitt Romney. But even that was unacceptable to them, and to this day they're threatening to repeal it.
Incapable of getting anything done, the congressional Republicans have instead abandoned any significant legislative recourse and chosen the path of frivolous lawsuits against the president. One of those lawsuits attempted to force Obama to overturn the so-called Obamacare exemption for Congress, even though Congress is explicitly forced to use Obamacare if members and staffers want employer-based health coverage.
This is how convoluted and childish the GOP has become, and Trump is merely upping the ante.
In his first 100 days, President Trump (shudder) will spawn all new layers of awfulness within the White House. Not to belabor a common internet meme, but he'd absolutely represent a significant leap toward an "Idiocracy" future. We often talk about inexperienced presidential hopefuls in terms of who they'd appoint as advisers and cabinet secretaries. Trump's roster would be a nightmare of epic proportions.
For example, over the weekend, Trump held an event in Arizona, clearly because Arizona's March 2016 primary is right around the corner, giving it precedence over, say, New Hampshire. No, obviously Trump's intention was to continue doubling-down on his radical anti-Mexican position. Trump also invited the crackpot law enforcement goon and birther Sheriff Joe Arpaio to appear with him.
It makes perfect sense that these two creeps would pal around together. Arpaio lurks at just about the same level in the political slagheap as Trump. And so it's this kind of humanity that would occupy a Trump White House. Why? Because Trump is a showman, and characters like Arpaio are show-folk. Besides Arpaio, Trump's two biggest fans on the far-right are arguably Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin. I can almost imagine Nugent as a "Second Amendment Czar," or, hell, Secretary of Defense Sarah Palin. Again, is there any reason to believe Trump would make rational choices here?
Along those lines, Trump might turn his appointments into an "Apprentice"-like reality show, selling out the seriousness and dignity of the office and repackaging it as yet another masturbatory Trump television vehicle.
In terms of his legislative agenda, if you happen to be a minority or a woman, you should probably start packing. Meanwhile, every Republican bill would get his signature, just as long as they didn't put up much of a fuss while he sold off our National Parks, while also deploying our military to Syria and Iraq to fight an endless war against ISIS. (Trump says he has a plan to defeat ISIS, but he won't tell anyone what it is.)
Trump isn't a politician. He's a CEO and a celebrity, not necessarily in that order. He's not accustomed to diplomacy or negotiation. Trump does whatever the hell Trump wants to do, and so we can expect plenty of unilateral decisions for military conflict or sanctions or severing of diplomatic relations simply because Trump is Trump and no one tells Trump what to do.
We could do this all day, but the point is that not only would President Trump destroy the economy (no bankruptcy escape hatches for President Trump), but it'd instantaneously turn the United States from a superpower into a punchline. Worse, it'd allow the next president to engage in similar shenanigans, either as a means of carrying on the ludicrous Trump legacy or as a reaction against it. Because that's how the American presidency functions without de-evolving into the office of just another third world strong-man. Indeed, one of the most horrendous ideas the United States has injected into the world is the presidential system, as opposed to a parliamentary one. Too many fledgling democracies have failed because their first presidents refused to grasp the need to anchor the office's power with the elusive qualities of responsibility, tradition, compromise and fairness. Does anyone seriously believe there's any sense of responsibility, tradition, compromise or fairness in Trumps bewigged gourd?
Simply put: Imagine all of the worst Nixon things, but add into the mix the fact that, unlike Nixon, he's good on television. Irrespective of his business acumen, we're talking about a feckless dilettante -- a presidential Brundlefly hybrid of Nixon and Reagan, minus the seriousness, dignity or statesmanship.
Will any of this actually happen? Probably not. But if Trump's surging poll numbers tell us anything, it's that there's an appetite on the right for it, no matter how insane and reckless a president Trump has given us every indication he would be. And that, my fellow Americans, is absolutely terrifying.