A Disjunctive or Disruptive President?05-19-2019
Thomas Edsall, in the New York Times, questions Balkin and Skowroneck’s ideas of Disjunctive presidents to ask whether it makes sense to fit President Trump within regular categories of U.S. presidents. For Balkin, John Quincy Adams, James Buchanan, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter are, as is Trump, disjunctive presidents who “have the misfortune to lead the dominant party when the regime is losing its legitimacy and the party’s factions are at each other’s throats.” But Edsall dissents and suggests that to categorize President Trump alongside other presidents plays down the ways in which he is unique and, potentially, disruptive of American democracy. To imagine “Trump as a momentary phenomenon, a disjunctive president who brings closure to a burned-out Reagan regime, does not necessarily fit the facts in their totality.” It may be, Edsall argues, that Trump’s presidency is unique in his independence from his own party as well as from the political and constitutional limitations on power. If that is so, Edsall argues that Trump’s emergence represents something new, “at the very least, an erosion of democracy — a nightmare, not a legacy.”
Our current political problems stem from the fact that we are in the final days of a crumbling, decadent political regime, and no new regime has yet appeared to take its place.” It will, however, according to Balkin, soon be over. “We will get through it. And when we get through it — about five to ten years from now — the present will seem like a distant, unhappy nightmare, or an illness from which one has recovered.