In response to:

Hillary vs. Donald: The Benefit of the Doubt from the September 29, 2016 issue

To the Editors:

In his perceptive article “Hillary vs. Donald: The Benefit of the Doubt” [NYR, September 29], Joseph Lelyveld writes that a “Trump presidency, by contrast, would be anything but normal. It would be a grim three-ring circus from the outset, possibly leading to an escalating standoff among various branches of government.” If only that were the worst of it. In fact, a Trump victory would almost certainly mean 100 percent domination of all branches of government by the Republican Party, because it would secure the executive (including all federal agencies) and judicial branches, the House is certain to stay GOP, and more and more it appears the Democrats have almost no chance to retake the Senate. Indeed, they would need a net five-seat gain if Trump won, not the four if Clinton won and Vice President Tim Kaine broke the ties.

The most important point, however, almost never remarked upon, is that there would be no more filibuster firewall. Surely the pressure from the right-wing media and the Republican voters would be immense in favor of total elimination of the filibuster rule for the Senate 2017–2018 session, so that gridlock no longer existed.

Then, the Republican Party and a principle-free President Trump could enact and sign respectively new laws, and repeal existing laws as they pleased, with a profound effect on our nation not seen since FDR’s first term, over eighty years ago. This time, however, the transformation would be negative, to engage in profound understatement.

Like most candidates, Trump contends that the stakes in the election could not be higher. Well, give him his due: About that he is a truth teller.

Allan Hillman
Lawyer and lay president of the ACLU of Greater New Haven
Board member of the ACLU of Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut