You can't run government like a business because, unlike business, government is accountable to all the people.
For years a lot of people said we needed to elect someone with a business background as president and insisted that government would be a lot more efficient if it was run like a corporation. Now, every day, President Donald Trump shows us just how folly that idea was.
Trump is a businessman. He had no previous political experience prior to be being elected. And he grew his fan base, at least in part, on the promise of cleaning up Washington – draining the swamp – and making government more efficient.
Now granted, Trump as a boss is probably not someone you want to work for. In fact, many people who are stuck in low-paying jobs – and even some of the higher earners – have likely had a boss at one time or another who was less than PC; someone who made passes at female employees or promised them advancement if they did certain things, someone only interested in improving their own bottom line, their standing with the board of directors or stockholders, someone who, every time they made a bad decision immediately looked for a scapegoat on which to place blame.
Trump has done all these things, from bragging during his campaign about groping women to his current attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump has shown he is pretty much just interested in himself and how he can manipulate things to his advantage.
As a businessman, Trump’s successes always went to his own bottom line, increasing his wealth and fortune. As president, he appears to be following that same path.
Pundits across the spectrum have tried to dissect Trump’s announcement this week that he wants to ban transgender people from the military. Most likely, as some news outlets have reported, the move came because a House budget bill looked like it might go down in flames because some Republicans wanted to include a provision saying the military would not pay for sex reassignment operations.
On Wednesday, Politico’s Rachel Bade and Josh Dawsey wrote, “Trump’s sudden decision was, in part, a last-ditch attempt to save a House proposal full of his campaign promises that was on the verge of defeat, numerous congressional and White House sources said.” You can read the entire article here.
Trump likely does not have a particular disdain for the transgender community. As he has shown time and again, his actions always have some ulterior motive. In this case, some Republicans wanted the White House to intervene on the funding debate and, rather than just do that, in his typical fashion Trump said just ban them all.
Remember what he said about negotiating during the campaign and since? He always takes the strongest and most aggressive path, even if his goal is something far less. Ultimately, the goal is for the military to not pay for sex reassignment operations, but if you start with “ban all transgender people from the military,” you have a strong negotiating position.
When you settle on the military not paying for operations, your opponents claim a win because you aren’t kicking transgender people out of the military, and you win because you get what you wanted all along. Classic Trump business strategy.
Now, most people in this world would likely temper their negotiating actions to the situation. There are not many who would throw the lives of thousands of people into immediate turmoil, and they would have a baseline conscious that would preclude them from discriminating against a group of people based solely on their sexual identity.
Not Trump. In the hard-nosed, winner-take-all business world, the end justifies the means.
Trump has no loyalties to anyone or anything beyond Trump. Ask the Attorney General. That’s probably why Trump believes the whole Russia investigation is a witch hunt. Trump and his campaign probably never considered any political implications when they agreed to meet with Russians who promised them dirt on their campaign rival, Hillary Clinton. The objective is winning, and you do whatever it takes to achieve that.
In the business world, the objective is to make money; for stockholders if you represent a public company; for your boss if you work for a private company; or for yourself if you happen to be the one who, like Trump, owns the company. Employees are all expected to work toward that objective of making the boss rich. Giving less than 100 percent in that effort is grounds for termination.
The trouble is, when you are in government, you, and all the agencies and people employed there are working for a different boss – the American people -- and your personal financial goals need to take a back seat to what the boss – the American public – wants. We have systems in place to keep you accountable, and transparency laws designed to reduce the chance you could sneak something by us.
Our government is set up in such a way as to prevent the individual from personally benefitting at the expense of the American public. As such, running the government as a business – an entity that does not have to everything out in the open – is impossible.
Trump found success in the business world by learning the rules and finding ways to push the boundaries. Trouble is, the same tactics that made him a success in business are making him an utter failure as president and, as he has shown, you can’t run a government because, while in business you may be the sole proprietor, in government that type of control is called a dictatorship.
Jim Lee is editor for GateHouse Media Delaware. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.