Tomorrow will make it official that Donald J. Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. His inauguration will likely be full of the Americana that many of us love, one that will provide telling points of patriotism and gratitude without any of the postmodern irony that lurked in Obama’s second inaugural where he said the truths of the Declaration of Independence “may” be self evident, and, without pausing, concluded that we should still be willing to work eagerly on their behalf. Trump’s election tells us that Americans are not rushing to enter the age of post-national and post-political governance that Europe has fitfully embraced. Will his statecraft bear this out? The victory of this improbable party nominee and vanquisher of a seasoned Democratic opponent tells us, too, that our country is enduring an era of constitutional crisis. What Constitution will we live under? What country will we become?
Voters seemed to grasp where the Progressive constitution was leading in terms of regulatory power and identity politics; just enough of them rejected it. For that, Trump deserves credit for potentially opening our constitutionalism to a more robust form of self-government. If nothing else, we have the opportunity for a debate about the substance of our constitutional order that many on the Left believe they had already ended. But if populist conservatism pushed Trump and the Republicans to victory, we should also be mindful that populism historically brings the double-edged sword of great enthusiasm and a certain gullibility, a susceptibility to accept narratives rather than hard facts.
That brings us to the readership of Law and Liberty. It’s likely that many picked Trump. For the first time since this site’s launch in 2012, these readers now have a President they are willing to support. And this is coupled with Republican control of Congress and of a majority of state legislatures and governorships. High tide. A shoring up of the conservative bloc on the Supreme Court, the big prize in our desiccated constitutional practice, appears to lie ahead.
Over the course of Barack Obama’s presidency, Law and Liberty published essays too numerous to count critiquing many elements of his policies and the manner in which he pressed them, often through unlawful executive actions. We aren’t about to change in any manner. This journal will continue to be a roiling conversation of classical liberal, conservative, and libertarian thought on any number of topics. Many journals are lining up to resolutely oppose or support the new administration. This site will continue its independent discourse on constitutionalism and its attendant principles, including federalism, politics nobly understood, and a calibrated suspicion of power— whoever holds it, all in the service of a social and political order of free and responsible human persons. Two plus two did not equal five under Obama’s postmodern Progressive presidency and the same remains true under a Republican President and/or a Republican Congress.