Let’s turn away for a moment from what Donald Trump might have accomplished during his first 100 days as president to what he might have learned during that time.
The president’s list of accomplishments is pretty damn skimpy.
His learning curve, though, has been steep. I hope it’s beginning to flatten out.
What’s the most glaring eye-opener for the president? It’s that you cannot run the federal government the way you run a business.
At virtually every turn along the way since taking office, the president has been forced to swallow that bitter pill. A man who became used to getting his way because he demands it has learned that the federal government is structured — on purpose — to function on an entirely different set of dynamics.
The nation’s founders crafted a brilliant governing document. When you think about it, while the U.S. Constitution grants the president significant executive authority, it does not imbue the office with ultimate governing authority. The founders divvied up power among three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.
It’s that darn legislative branch — the U.S. Congress — that has a say in what becomes law. Donald Trump’s business experience doesn’t mean squat to many of the 535 men and women who comprise both chambers of Congress. They, too, have their constituencies to which they must answer. Yes, the president represents the nation, but Congress — as a body — also represents the very same nation.
Can you govern the nation like a business? No. Never. Not a zillion years.
Trump needs to understand that governance is a team sport. He cannot threaten members of Congress if they resist his legislative proposals. He cannot exclude members of the “other” party from key negotiations. He must abandon the “I, alone” mantra — which he bellowed at the Republican National Convention this past summer — that threatens to haunt him for as long as he is president.
And then there’s the judicial branch. The federal judiciary comprises individuals who hold lifetime appointed jobs. Their mission is to ensure that laws do not violate the Constitution. The founders granted them independence from the executive and legislative government branches.
Those judges have the constitutional authority to knock down executive orders, or to put the brakes on laws enacted by Congress. They aren’t “so-called judges” whose status as “unelected” jurists doesn’t diminish their authority.
I hope the president has learned at least some elements of all this during his first 100 days. If he doesn’t, then we’re all going to be in for an extremely rough ride.
However, we’re all just spectators. The president will need to hold on with both hands if he has any chance of getting anything done during his time in office.
We are witnessing the consequence of electing someone with zero public service experience. Mr. President, the federal government bears no resemblance — none! — to the businesses you built.