There are many of us who did not vote for Donald Trump but who also did not vote for Hillary (let the excoriation begin). We were looking for the most “constitutional” of the candidates. It must be said at the outset that as I reviewed the campaign promises of the predominant presidential candidates, and there were many, it was very clear that none of them understood their role as primarily defined in article 2 of the Constitution of the United States with some addenda in article 1. I was especially disappointed that the Constitution Party candidate apparently had such a poor understanding of his responsibilities in that he laid claim to doing things that were in article 1 just as all the other candidates did.

That being said, what would it take for those of us who are not looking for a conservative or a liberal president but rather a constitutional president to be happy with Donald Trump?

First let me tell you what I would not hold him responsible for. If a bill for raising revenue, that is a budget, doesn’t originate in the House of Representatives, I will not hold Donald Trump responsible for the United States not having a proper budget. It is not his responsibility. If our taxes do not become uniform throughout the United States, that will not be Donald Trump’s fault but rather it will be the Congress’s fault. If we do not get a handle on regulating commerce with foreign nations, reducing our dependence on their product and such things, I will not hold Donald Trump responsible for that. It is Congress’s responsibility to regulate commerce with foreign nations. If naturalization and immigration problems are not solved, I will not hold Donald Trump responsible for that. Those two are the responsibility of Congress. If we continue to use fiat money and trust a board of so-called regulators in the Federal Reserve to manage our economy, I will not hold Donald Trump responsible for that because it’s the Congress’s responsibility to coin money regulate its value and otherwise not intrude in the economies of the states of this Republic.

If our government continues its reckless policy of intruding in the lives of other sovereign nations, I will not hold Donald Trump responsible because it is Congress responsibility to declare war or otherwise exercise diplomacy and create and maintain friendly terms with foreign nations. The president can assist in this with his power to make treaties with the concurrence of the Senate but otherwise it is the responsibility of Congress. If the federal government continues to exercise exclusive legislation over parts of the country that they never purchased properly and constitutionally, I will not hold Donald Trump responsible for that because it is Congress’s responsibility to see to it that they only exercise jurisdiction over those parts of the continent that are truly under their jurisdiction.

There are great many other responsibilities that Congress has that many of the presidential candidates including Donald Trump made promises about. President Trump needs to reread article 2 of the Constitution, get his phone out and download the Constitution app and start using a pencil so that he can erase anything that he realizes he shouldn’t have done.

What should a President Trump do? Well, if he holds himself to the letter of the Constitution, he may find that the Imperial presidency that has been under construction for the last 175 years is a usurpation of responsibility that should be disavowed and repaired. He could do much in that vein.

If he recognizes that it is his responsibility to make treaties as long as he has the consent of two thirds of the Senate, he will be a good president. If his nominations for ambassadors, consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, other ministers and all other officers of the United States that are not already provided for in the Constitution are made with the advice and consent of the Senate, he will be on the way to being a good president. If his filling of vacancies that happened during Senate recesses are carefully and judiciously made, his legacy will be enhanced as a constitutional president. If he takes care that the constitutionally pursuant laws that the legislature passes (not the opinions of the Supreme Court) are faithfully executed, he will be an executive to be imitated.

There are a few more things that he would be responsible for but not much. If he takes the responsibility to return the presidency to the confines that were instituted in the Constitution, if he uses his office as a bully pulpit to instruct Congress in their constitutional responsibilities, he would be a president like we haven’t had for 120 years.

When Congress sends him legislation for which he can find no support in the Constitution, if he vetoes it and sends them a thoughtful list of his objections with a plea for them to reconsider it, he will be doing yeoman’s work in reining in an out of control legislature like no president has done for decades and decades.

In fact, if he simply used Madison’s veto of 1817 as a template, filling in the unconstitutional proposal wherever proper, he could at once stop unconstitutional acts and educate both Congress and the people as to their responsibilities.

I close with that fine veto for President Trump’s perusal. Anyone can see in the text of this veto that Madison was prescient in his apparently inadvertent look into the future of a country that would set aside their Constitution to the destruction of the Republic.

Madison veto of federal public works bill
March 3, 1817
To the House of Representatives of the United States:

Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled “An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,” and which sets apart and pledges funds “for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,” I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated.

The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers, or that it falls by any just interpretation with the power to make laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution those or other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.

“The power to regulate commerce among the several States” can not include a power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the navigation of water courses in order to facilitate, promote, and secure such commerce without a latitude of construction departing from the ordinary import of the terms strengthened by the known inconveniences which doubtless led to the grant of this remedial power to Congress.

To refer the power in question to the clause “to provide for common defense and general welfare” would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation, as rendering the special and careful enumeration of powers which follow the clause nugatory and improper. Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms “common defense and general welfare” embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust. It would have the effect of subjecting both the Constitution and laws of the several States in all cases not specifically exempted to be superseded by laws of Congress, it being expressly declared “that the Constitution of the United States and laws made in pursuance thereof shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges of every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” Such a view of the Constitution, finally, would have the effect of excluding the judicial authority of the United States from its participation in guarding the boundary between the legislative powers of the General and the State Governments, inasmuch as questions relating to the general welfare, being questions of policy and expediency, are unsusceptible of judicial cognizance and decision.

A restriction of the power “to provide for the common defense and general welfare” to cases which are to be provided for by the expenditure of money would still leave within the legislative power of Congress all the great and most important measures of Government, money being the ordinary and necessary means of carrying them into execution.

If a general power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the navigation of water courses, with the train of powers incident thereto, be not possessed by Congress, the assent of the States in the mode provided in the bill can not confer the power. The only cases in which the consent and cession of particular States can extend the power of Congress are those specified and provided for in the Constitution.

I am not unaware of the great importance of roads and canals and the improved navigation of water courses, and that a power in the National Legislature to provide for them might be exercised with signal advantage to the general prosperity. But seeing that such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution, and believing that it can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and reliance on insufficient precedents; believing also that the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the General and the State Governments, and that no adequate landmarks would be left by the constructive extension of the powers of Congress as proposed in the bill, I have no option but to withhold my signature from it, and to cherishing the hope that its beneficial objects may be attained by a resort for the necessary powers to the same wisdom and virtue in the nation which established the Constitution in its actual form and providently marked out in the instrument itself a safe and practicable mode of improving it as experience might suggest.

James Madison,

President of the United States