With much of the country wringing its hands over Donald Trump, allow me to be the bearer of some good news: Several good things are happening to the American systemof government as a result of his presidency. Admittedly, I am turning to the somewhat perverse law of unintended consequences to find these, but systems are retooling to protect themselves from President Trump and the result could be very healthy, both now and in the long run.
First, Congress is reawakening to its leadership role in policy-making and legislating. The founders understood Congress to be the “first” of the three branches, worrying whether there would be sufficient “energy” in the executive, while acknowledging that the judiciary, as Alexander Hamilton put it, would be “the least dangerous branch.” All of that has been turned on its head, with the modern presidency since Franklin Roosevelt vying with the courts for first place, while Congress keeps giving up its powers and is now a distant third in federal importance.
However, that seems to be changing. Congress is actually debating and making policy now, since President Trump does not seem interested in that. In health care, for example, Trump has made it clear that he cares less which version of health care replacement we get than getting one, notching a win on his presidential belt. So Congress has actively debated, now even in bipartisan discussions, key issues such as preexisting conditions, individual mandates, the extent of coverage, and the like. The president has left a sufficient policy vacuum that Congress has had to step up.