6 Scary Powers Presidents Have

Donald Trump has just about locked down the Republican presidential nomination, which has brought him frighteningly close to becoming the 45th president of the United States. It's frightening because of the power the POTUS has and what this would mean if Trump had access to this kind of international power. There are many things the commander in chief can do, but these are six presidential powers Trump shouldn't have, because honestly, it could be dangerous for our country.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Trump described what his first 100 days in office would look like. It was more or less what you'd expect: Trump said that he would, through unspecified means, get a wall built between the United States and Mexico, implement a ban on all Muslims entering the country, and "unite Republicans."

But there are a couple of other really big, impactful decisions that Trump — due to his bigotry, disregard for the truth, lack of ideological underpinnings, fascistic tendencies, and generally deficient character — shouldn't be allowed to make. Although Democrats will likely win the White House in 2016, it's always a possibility that they won't. In recognition of that harrowing possibility, here are six of the most important things that American voters should never allow Trump to do:

1. Launch Nuclear Weapons

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This is the big one. When a military crisis arises that could potentially lead to nuclear war, the president has final say over whether or not to pull the trigger. Trump shouldn’t be given this power because it’s not clear he really understands what a big deal nuclear weapons are.

Trump defied decades of bipartisan consensus in April when he insisted that more (not fewer) countries should have control of nukes. He also refused to rule out dropping a nuclear bomb in Europe or the Middle East, and said that nuclear proliferation is “going to happen anyway.” So, yeah, let’s not give him any nukes.

2. Start Wars

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Even if Trump keeps his hand off the nuclear trigger, he could still wreak unspeakable havoc on the world by starting wars willy-nilly.

In the narrowest technical sense, Congress must approve all declarations of war. But the last time Congress officially declared war was in 1942 against Romania, so in actuality, past presidents have basically launched wars whenever they wanted to. What’s to stop Trump from ordering a military strike on Mexico, say, if Mexican leaders refuse to pay for a border wall? Let's not give Trump the chance to even answer that question.

3. Appoint People To Run Agencies

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The president decides who gets to run the State Department, the Justice Department, and every other executive-level agency. If Trump becomes president, this means we could be looking at Education Secretary Ben Carson, Attorney General Chris Christie, and Energy Secretary Sarah Palin. That's concerning, especially given Carson's bizarre belief that U.S. history classes are creating ISIS terrorists.

And those are only the appointments that Trump and his allies have actually hinted at. Who else could Trump tap? Could Maricopa County Sheriff and outspoken birther Joe Arpaio become head of the Veterans’ Affairs Department? Maybe Mike Huckabee, who endorsed Trump, is in line to be the next Secretary of Defense? How about Trump supporter and abstinence-only advocate Rick Perry for Secretary of Health and Human Services? Yikes.

4. Establish Employment Standards For The Federal Government

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The president has the power to impose rules that the federal government must follow when hiring employees or contractors. President Obama has used this power extensively, effectively banning discriminatory hiring practices in the government and imposing a $10.10 minimum wage for federal employees.

But crucially, Obama was only able to accomplish this through executive orders, and one president's executive orders can easily be rescinded by the next president. Trump could sign contrary executive orders that eliminated these Obama-era employment protections — and unlike Trump's plans to roll back Obamacare, he could actually do this on day one of his (hopefully non-existent) presidency without congressional approval.

5. Negotiate With Foreign Leaders

Back in 2011, Trump predicted, incorrectly, that “you’re going to be paying five or six bucks a gallon for gasoline pretty soon.” In the same speech, he proposed an easy solution to this: Tell the Saudi Arabian leaders in charge of oil exports that “you’re not gonna raise that f*cking price.” Problem solved!

Diplomatic initiatives with other nations come from the office of the president. If this is how Trump plans to negotiate on behalf of the United States, he shouldn’t be in charge of negotiating with foreign leaders.

6. Appoint A Supreme Court Justice


Last, but certainly not least, there's the issue of the Supreme Court. The death of Antonin Scalia in February left a vacant seat on the high court, and the next president could get to name his replacement. While some Republicans fear that Trump would put a liberal judge on the court, those fears are unfounded because Trump has made it abundantly clear that he'll appoint a conservative judge to fill Scalia's seat if given the opportunity.

Look no further than the two names Trump has floated to fill the vacancy: William Pryor and Diane Sykes. Pryor, a judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, is sympathetic to voter ID laws, and has described the Roe v. Wade ruling as creating "a constitutional right to murder an unborn child." Sykes, from her spot on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, issued a ruling that invalidated Obamacare's contraceptive mandate (by citing Citizens United, no less). Similarly, in Christian Legal Society v. Walker, Sykes determined that anti-gay groups on university campuses are still eligible to receive federal funds as long as they discriminate based on behavior, not identity.

The scariest thing? The next president will probably get to name more than one Supreme Court judge.


There are plenty of obvious, general reasons why Trump shouldn't be given the keys to the White House. But there are just as many subtle, specific, and somewhat esoteric reasons. It's worth it to keep all of them in mind for the duration of this campaign.