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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > December 2016 > Unbalanced, unchecked

Unbalanced, unchecked

Individual states might resist Trump. But the Constitution can’t hold him back in Washington

At times such as these we reach for The West Wing, don’t we? One of my favourite lines is from an episode in series two when Josh Lyman, the Deputy White House Chief of Staff, says that there are only two things that stop governments: money and politics.

As a constitutional lawyer I’ve always been struck by this truth. Law does not appear on Josh’s list. Governments will do whatever they can politically get away with, if they can afford it. Smart constitutions focus on finding ways of allowing governments politically to get away with less. Really smart ones also seek ways of controlling the government’s resources.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s December issue: Sam Tanenhaus argues that Donald Trump was born to be a campaigning demagogue, but will he be too bored to rule? Ed Miliband and Michael Gove debate whether parliament should have a binding vote on the terms of Brexit and Christian Wolmar examines the driverless car delusion. Also in this issue: James Harkin examines the situation in Syria, focussing on Raqqa Ruth Dudley Edwards explores the battle in Ireland since the UK’s decision to leave the EU—will the border become a division? And Michael White looks at the life of Alan Johnson, the Labour MP and former postie.
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