Governing is not at all like running a business

Pretending that government can be run like a business
is foolish for both politicians and the country. 

During last year’s presidential jamboree, and Ross Perot’s short-lived run for president in 1992, I heard many friends say—sometimes pounding their fists on the table for emphasis—that what America needed was someone who could run the country like a business!

Presumably that person would cut waste, use the latest business accounting principles to balance the budget and perform other miracles that would “drain the swamp” as someone famously said.

The problem, as President Trump keeps demonstrating time and again, is that running the government and a business are not the same thing. 

For a preacher to promise to run his church with the same sharp eye and efficiency as the hardware store next door—as if consoling distraught widows and selling lawn mowers required roughly similar skills—would be dismissed as laughable.   

Little guy with big charts.

A significant part of the problem with Trump’s chaotic presidency so far is that he does not have the political experience to temper his expectations and those of his supporters, and to muddle through the tedious consensus-building legislative process. 

That process is not necessarily a sign of incompetence or bureaucratic torpor but of how things work in a participatory democracy. We’re not America, Inc. or worse, an autocracy like Russia run by Trump’s bro’, Vladimir Putin.  

Add to that Trump’s profound ignorance of basic national and international affairs and his reported aversion to reading and learning, and you’ve got a White House operation that looks and sounds like someone running nuts and bolts through a blender. 

In Trumplandia—before he moved to the White House—I suspect corporate budgets, projects and deals were prepared and approved, and pronto, behind closed doors. Trump didn’t have to deal with public opinion polls or the unrelenting scrutiny of the media. If the v.p. of something or other didn’t perform to his satisfaction,Trump could can him or her without worrying about public outcries, congressional hearings or special prosecutors. If you didn’t want to make public your tax returns or some details of your business wheelings and dealings, hey, so you didn’t.

Politics and democratic government require lobbying, negotiation, compromises and most of all finesse and time, none of them skills Trump seems to have. Building a consensus among your supporters and even with the opposition is a necessary part of getting your agenda enacted. 

Even the most worthwhile pieces of legislation can get caught in the Washington meat grinder if you fail to take your time and consult with all the appropriate poobahs, agencies and departments, and even some of the lower-level tadpoles in the bureaucratic swamp. 

During a press conference following former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate, House Speaker Paul Ryan offered perhaps the lamest defense of the continuing debacle that is the Trump administration. 

“He’s new to government,” Ryan said. “And so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationship between DOJ, FBI and the White House. He’s just new to this.” 

So ladies and gentlemen, next time shome business whiz promises to set the listing ship of government by using corporate expertise and algorithms, run the opposite the way. And if the person is crooked and dishonest to boot, run twice as fast. 

7 thoughts on “Governing is not at all like running a business

  1. Trump's chaotic presidency? Actually, it's not chaotic at all. There is chaos across the land, however, and it's caused by the left's ongoing hysteria at losing the presidential election. The Trump presidency is moving along quite nicely, thank you. I recommend you go to the White House website and subscribe to the “1600 Daily,” a brief daily description of presidential doings. It's all quite normal. Trump's getting good things done, and some of it is indeed just like running a business.


  2. Estimado Felipe: Since both of us gave up drinking long ago, I won't attribute your comment to writing under the influence. Quite normal? The White House right now is like a Mardi Gras parade going around in circles. So I'll blame your remarks to your pulling my leg. alfredo


  3. Anonymous

    A lot of the Trump agenda has been held up by Democrats and their false charge of Russian interference in the election. We need to get past that and find out who murdered Seth Rich and Federal Prosecutor Beranton J. Whisenant. Rich was wikileaks' source, and Whisenant worked at the office that was investigating the Clinton Global Initiative and their finances.Robert GillPhoenix, Arizona


  4. Dear Robert: I'd never heard of Beranton J. Whisenant until you mentioned his name. So I went on the internet to check it out and came up empty-handed except for some conservative websites making some convoluted connections between his death and the fact Whisenant was investigating some Pakistanis on charges of tampering with some classified information. I didn't find any concrete connection between point A and point B. The Seth Rich thing was abandoned even by Hannity and Fox News. I am fairly confident that if any of the “mainline media” found any substance to either one of the stories, they would be on it like crazy. There's nothing newspapers love more than conspiracies, particularly ones involving political figures.


  5. Anonymous

    Time will tell. The Seth Rich case is being covered up by powerful people. Hannity abandoned the issue under pressure. When the truth comes out, it will be ugly.You are a nice person, but I am afraid your heroes are thugs and murders.Robert Gill


  6. Anonymous

    I think I'm going to second Felipe's and Robert's comments. Trump is trying to move forward, and the Democrats are doing nothing more than propagating shrill conspiracy theories, theories that Comey just debunked. And I'd love to see a full investigation into the death of Seth Rich. The DNC seems to want the whole issue to go away, and they have been pressuring everyone they can to make it go away. Fox didn't drop it willingly; they were somehow pressured. You should look into Rich's murder. It is VERY strange, and while it's possible that it just happened the way it did, that seems unlikely. Saludos,Kim GRedding, CAWhere it seems the news media is extremely biased.


  7. Are we blaming Trump's ignorance, chronic mendacity and zigzagging thinking on the Democrats? At this point, Mr. T is screwing himself, seriously and continuously, and the poor Dems have very little with that awful spectacle. Seth Rich. What can one say, except there is no there there. There hasn't been any connection established between his death and his work at the DNC except speculation. If there were I can assure you the much-maligned media would be all over such a delicious scandal. And where is the DOJ during all this? Why don't they investigate?You need to get out of Redding and drive around, Kim, and get all these cheap plots and alt-right schemes out of your head. Saludos. Lost your e-mail, please resend.


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