Watching the video of Trump’s Inaugural Address, with its authoritarian tone and its totalitarian undertones, what came to mind was a famous story about Benjamin Franklin. At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman came up to him as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation and said: “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a Republic or a Monarchy?” To which Franklin replied: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
There’s been a lot of brave talk from my American friends — especially the lawyers — on how the framers of the Constitution always feared the arrival of a demagogue, and designed the institutions of the state to rein such a president in. All those wonderful checks and balances, separation of powers, etc.
Well, now they’re going to get a real stress-test.