we’re in genuinely uncharted territory with Trump: we’ve simply never seen a candidate with this much disregard for typical Constitutional values get this close to the White House. There’s no precedent for what might happen if he got there. For another, if you look at how our system of checks and balances is really built, it has relatively few resources to stop an authoritarian president from violating the Constitution and getting away with it. And the third reason may be the most unsettling of all: In a democracy, the final brake on the tyrannical exercise of power is public opinion. And polls suggest the American public has never been as skeptical of democracy or as open to authoritarian alternatives like military rule as it is right now. If a President Trump really blew down the walls of our system, a worryingly wide swath of the public would likely stand behind him.
Even Richard Nixon, as close to an out-and-out crook as the White House has known, finally resigned when Congress moved to impeach him. It’s simply not clear that Donald Trump would do the same.
If he wanted to close down mosques, or have his cronies prosecute political opponents, he probably could.
The Supreme Court's role as arbiter of what’s constitutional is ultimately just a matter of tradition, and Trump has already proved his willingness to flout tradition when it happens to suit his interests.
impeachment requires both a simple majority in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Considering how scared most GOP officials have been of taking on a Presidential candidate with authoritarian tendencies, it is far from certain that many of them would prove more courageous in the face of an authoritarian President. And by the time the will to impeach him has built, and the highly complex proceedings completed, it would in any case be far from clear how much of the republic there would be left to save.
countries like Hungary, Russia or Iraq did have carefully designed institutions with intricate checks and balances; but because the politicians who inhabited these systems had little commitment to liberal-democratic norms, they failed to protect democracy.
it isn't primarily the legal genius of the Founding Fathers that has made American democracy uniquely stable, but, at least as importantly, the deep commitment of ordinary Americans to liberal norms like the separation of powers. It is the people's love for democracy, not the protections their democracy affords them on paper, that is the final check on the tyranny of the majority which the founders so feared.
the Constitution cannot save us from our politics