One of the more obscure rationales offered for supporting Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries and general election came from a group of right-leaning intellectuals with ties to the Claremont Institute, who argued that he would save the American project from progressive usurpers by reining in the administrative state. Adherents of this view worry that governance in the country has become unmoored from the will of the people, as democratically elected representatives delegated more and more power to unaccountable “experts” and bureaucrats.
The particulars of their project have always been murky.
It is easy to see how a determined Congress could rein in the administrative state with the power of the purse. I’ve yet to hear a good explanation of how a president with no apparent commitment to the Founding principles will achieve the desired transformation, apart from appointing jurists of the sort that any Republican would favor.
Meanwhile, Trump’s approach to foreign policy is directly at odds with the project. Rather than acting as a strong commander in chief who insists that “the buck stops here,” Trump has repeatedly elevated the judgment of unelected bureaucratic experts, insulating himself from democratic accountability for U.S. policy.