New Delhi: The whole world seems to be terrified that Donald Trump may become US President. On the outside chance that he does, there is nothing to fear. The end is not nigh. Remember that cliche: The more things change, the more they stay the same? America will remain the same with or without Trump. The world can continue to abuse the United States even while seeking its favours.

Donald Trump believes in his heart that an imperial presidency would make over America to his satisfaction. An America tailored to his satisfaction may dissatisfy a lot of people. Those lots of people may not be enough to stop his march to the White House. That is beside the point for this piece, as it happens. Trump will find it harder to become an imperial President.

You could broadly define an imperial President as someone with unmitigated powers. Trumps ideas (if he has any beyond the negatives) would be nonstarters without those powers. He will not get those powers however thumpingly he wins the presidential election.

Several factors militate against this. Importantly, there is the negative precedent set by the Richard Nixon presidency. Nixon tried to inaugurate one of the first persuasive post-World War II imperial presidencies. The shame he courted with the Watergate scandal put paid to his efforts.

Nixon’s abuse of office proved abhorrent both to the legislature and to the judiciary. As the Nixon presidency went into free fall with widening and deepening Watergate investigations, the legislature and judiciary usurped critical executive powers. It turned back the clock on the potential of an imperial presidency forever.

After Nixon, George W. Bush sought an imperial presidency using the events of 9/11. Power projection was maximum outside continental America anytime after the end of the Cold War. The state also tried to maximize its reach within. For a time it looked as though he had succeeded until reverses in Iraq and Afghanistan took the shine out of his administration. Bush was re-elected. But he knew he had no chance of becoming an imperial President.

The judiciary and the legislature will block Donald Trump the moment he overreaches. It will not permit him to be an imperial President. America is not at war as it appeared to be in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The Cold War is over for any Nixonian deep state to make a comeback. If Donald Trump ever becomes President, he will at most limp through one term and may even not get re-elected. That is crystal gazing and this writer may be dead wrong.

What is unassailable is that Donald Trump lacks the vision and intellectual heft to be an imperial President. Both Nixon and George W. Bush did not lack in these departments though the “liberal” press would have you believe otherwise.

Nixon is widely credited for the outstanding opening to China. It is mentioned less often that his administration concluded the ABM and interim SALT-1 treaties with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. These treaties were intellectual visualizations of the highest order.

Bush, on the other hand, is portrayed as a bumbler who didn’t read, which is not true at all. He regularly crunched fat books on history, and on one occasion astonished his guest at the White House, a reputed military historian, quoting sections verbatim from one of his tomes.

To boot Nixon and Bush had conservative advisors with vast comprehension of a variety of subjects. Some of Bush’s Neo-Conservative advisors were brilliant. Too brilliant you might add in a devilish sort of way. That comes from a tradition of the “best and the brightest”, of which Robert McNamara, the architect of the Vietnam bombings, was a hallowed constituent, although he did his knavery for the Democrats. Henry Kissinger supplied his extraordinary satanic talents to the Republicans.

The point is Donald Trump lacks this intellectual support. He might rustle up a thinking cabinet yet but it may lack the firepower to drastically change things. The establishment will oppose him. It opposed Nixon on China and even more so during Watergate. Bush knew how to start a war but not how to win it. The establishment knew no better. So he just faded out.

America is dysfunctional today. Fixing America will exhaust Donald Trump. That is not to say lots and lots of Americans don’t want America fixed. Looking into their psyche, you might almost imagine this line from A Beautiful Mind playing through their head: “McCarthy is an idiot, but unfortunately that doesn’t make him wrong.”

America will survive Donald Trump. So will the world.

Editor’s Note: 1. The Delhi High Court has damned student activism in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in strong words. It calls slogans raised in support of the terrorist Afzal Guru and the disintegration of the country “anti-national”. The Centre stands vindicated insofar as it acted to preserve law and order in the instance. The issue of sedition remains under judicial scrutiny. Meanwhile, JNU has shown ample evidence lately of losing its status as an institution of intellectual excellence. Bogus ideologies and a mediocre faculty have crippled it. This needs urgent repair.

2. When activists in this country go apoplectic with rage, they call perceived opponents Fascists. They also employ “blackshirt” in loose reference to Benito Mussolini’s hoods. Funnily, political leaders with direct Italian Fascist roots also employ these terms. Why would they do that unless they know not what they declaim?

Fascists were awful people but hardly successful. The Italian fascist army was the worst in the Second World War. It was the worst in the First as well though then it fought its future allies. (It seemed to have stood up only to the poor Abyssinians.) The joke was that anyone who allied with Italy had plenty to despair. It didn’t stop Neville Chamberlain from travelling to Italy to woo Mussolini. So much for opportunism.

The German fascists, on the other hand, were terrific in tactics. Fascists must be employed with generous qualification at this point. The bulk of the Wehrmacht officer corps was scarcely fascist. They were Prussian (Junker in several cases) or simply military professionals with the usual proportion of careerists. They built the greatest land army of that time. They were failed by Adolf Hitler.

Hitler’s monumental failing -- his fascist ideological failing, you might add -- was his impatience against grand strategy. He had no end plan for World War II. He could never get past craving for a Lebensraum for Germans in Slavic lands. Fascism was never shorthand for success. It cannot be now. It is a failed idea. Silly activists and sloganeers in this country might at least get acquainted with rude and basic facts.

And even before the Third Reich collapsed, the West was intent on preserving elements that would serve against the new menace called the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union played the same game. The swagger of Josef Stalin at Potsdam with a careless cigarette in hand was about that. (Not to forget far previously the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and the partition of Poland.) History ought never to be selectively read.