Yes, Donald Trump scares me, too

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Ted Richardson/Associated Press)

I rarely blog about politics. But this being a right-of-center blog, and most or all of us regular bloggers being Republican voters, there have been some fair questions from readers about what the bloggers here think of the GOP front-runner, Donald Trump.

I can't speak for others, so I'll just speak for myself: Donald Trump scares me. It's disturbing that someone with so little interest in the truth, who is happy to stoke xenophobic fires to advance his cause, and who seems to have little cause other than the glorification of himself, has somehow persuaded so many on the right that his presidency would make America great instead of be a disaster.

Here's one way to put it: When Ross Douthat has to argue that the party front-runner is technically kind of a fascist, but that it's better for tactical reasons not to label him one quite yet, something is deeply wrong.

I don't doubt the good faith of Trump supporters. The Constitution divides power to make it easier to stop legislation than to enact it. When public opinion is sharply divided, it's easy for nothing to happen. This can seem pretty maddening to those with strong views on one side. When you elect politicians who talk about how they're going to solve problems, but then nothing happens, it's easy to blame the politicians for not trying hard enough or for being controlled by unnamed "special interests." After all, the politicians promised but then didn't deliver. Something nefarious must explain it. In that kind of frustrated political environment, a politician who simply insists that he will solve every problem—and will do it so quickly and effectively that your head will spin—might seem like a breath of fresh air.

That impression is based on a misunderstanding, though. The constitutional design makes the separation of powers a feature and not a bug. It means you need to persuade the other side, or reach a compromise, to change the law. The answer isn't to elect a "strong man" who will find unnamed ways of forcing his views upon others. That's a dangerous path, and it's not one that the Constitution envisions or experience recommends.

Anyway, I'm not expecting this post to persuade anyone. If anything, the fact that Trump scares me will probably be taken by some of his supporters as proof of how great he is. But I did want to offer my opinion, as some readers had fairly asked about it. I'll leave to my co-bloggers whether they would like to chime in with their own views.