As of this writing, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site is giving Donald Trump (DONALD TRUMP!) about a 30 percent chance of winning the presidency. Those of us who support strict constitutional limits on executive power do so in part because we fear the concentration of power in the hands of the president more than we fear “gridlock” if Congress and the president are at odds. To libertarians like myself, this is an easy call, because I never like or trust the president. But it’s more difficult for those who are strong Democrats or Republicans to see the virtue of limits on executive power, in particular when a president of their party is in office.
So now is a good time, when thoughtful people in both parties are horrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency, a worst-case scenario come to life, to think about how much power you are willing to lodge in the executive, knowing that whatever power you deny a possible President Trump, you would also be denying a President Clinton or future Republican president. Don’t just think about it; consider the various executive-power controversies that arose in the Bush and Obama years, and write down, with a possible Trump presidency in the back of your mind, which side had the better argument. And next time “your” president, Republican or Democrat, is in power, pull out what you wrote on Nov. 2, 2016, and stick to it.