“A dependence on the people,” James Madison wrote , “is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” He meant the checks and balances of our constitutional architecture. They are necessary because, as Madison anticipated and as the nation was reminded on Friday, “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”
Here are Walter Olson’s thoughts on Trump’s dreadful inaugural address . A slice (that mentions what I fear is a futile hope):
During his campaign, Trump’s style was noteworthy for how seldom he mentioned the Constitution, the legal limits of government power, or the rights of the individual. Let us hope that these themes emerge in future speeches by the new President.
My Mercatus Center colleague Dan Griswold reports the happy news that British Prime Minister Theresa May, unlike our own economically illiterate President Trump, signals that she will strongly support freer trade .
Rhetorically, Trump represents the antithesis of the modest, restrained vision of the presidency shared by most of the Founders. That’s apparent from his nomination acceptance speech at GOP Convention this summer, which was dominated by alarmist hyperbole (“attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life”) hubristic promises (“beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored”); and a vox populi conception of the presidency: “I AM YOUR VOICE” (ALLCAPS in the prepared-for-delivery version  released by the campaign).
In a famous (perhaps borrowed ) refrain to one of his speeches, Barack Obama intoned: “Don’t tell me words don’t matter.” In this case, they do: how the president communicates reveals how he views the office—and how he intends to wield power. Trump has given us ample reason to worry on that score.
When you set aside Obama’s customary poetry and Trump’s habitual bluntness, both men are circling around the same idea: that loyalty to the state will lead Americans on a path to personal goodness. That working together toward a common goal of national greatness is the way to self-betterment.