From his vow to defy all subpoenas issued by Democrat-led committees in the House of Representatives to his desire to force funding for a U.S./Mexico border wall via an emergency declaration, President Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t think much of checks and balances or congressional oversight. And in an August 7 column for the Washington Post, journalist Aaron Blake explains why many Republican voters appear to see things the same way.
“Conservative Republicans have moved sharply toward embracing a more powerful chief executive with fewer checks and balances,” Blake explains. And he cites a new poll by Pew Research as evidence.
According to the poll, Blake notes, the number of Republicans who “favored fewer checks on the president” went from 14% in 2016 to “43% of all Republicans” in 2019
Blake observes, “It’s normal for a party to favor presidential powers more when it holds the office, but the shift among Republicans is considerably bigger than among Democrats. While the share of Republican-leaning voters favoring a more powerful executive has risen 29 points between 2016 and 2019, the corresponding drop among Democratic-leaning voters who favor that approach has been just 13 points, from 29% in (President Barack) Obama’s last year to 16% today.”
The Washington Post columnist goes on to say that it’s “difficult to separate this new poll finding from what has transpired over the entirety of the Trump presidency.” Trump, Blake asserts, “has sought to stretch his presidential powers to distances not even broached by Obama, including by using a national emergency declaration to build a border wall on the U.S./Mexico border.”
Blake stresses that although Obama, as president, sometimes complained about a Republican-controlled Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court, he never showed the outright contempt for checks and balances that Trump has. And Blake concludes his column by saying that a “sinister read” of Pew’s poll “would be that Republicans have warmed to a more autocratic type of leader given Trump’s regular praise and admiration for strongmen around the world. …. It’s clear there has been a significant shift — not the kind that suggests the American people would sign off on a dictator, certainly, but one in which one of the two major parties has significantly less regard or desire for the checks and balances the Founding Fathers created.”
And the major party Blake is referring to isn’t the Democratic Party.