We all have heard at least one political candidate say something like this: “I am going to insist that we run the government like a business.”
Donald John Trump Sr. took that boast to a spectacular level while campaigning for the presidency in 2016. He kept pointing to his business empire; he kept reminding us how rich he is; he said he would bring all of his immense business acumen into the White House, that he would get things done.
“It will be easy!” he bellowed time and again.
His election as president has shown us all — if not the president himself — that governing bears no resemblance to business.
All those “easy” tasks have become “hard.” Repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act? Exterminating the Islamic State? Reforming the federal tax code?
One man cannot do those things by himself. The president needs Congress to assist him. He needs the legislative branch to do its part. He needs to cajole and convince those who oppose him to support him.
Trump entered the political arena from a different universe. He parlayed an inheritance handed him by his father into a substantial business empire. He became the CEO of everything named “Trump.” He didn’t have to answer to anyone. Trump snapped his fingers and things got done. His sole goal was to enrich himself.
His business ventures have produced a mixed record. He’s had great success and great failures along the way.
Donald Trump brought that all of that business experience into a world that bears zero resemblance to the world that he departed.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said Trump had set “excessive expectations” on how quickly he could enact his agenda. What is so wrong with that analysis? It makes perfect sense to many of us. A man with no government experience — and who exhibits no interest in learning how government works — expects to rack up achievements in the manner he did when he was the business empire CEO.
I’ve noted for many years that running government like a business is the height of naivete. Businesses do not operate under the principle of co-equal partnerships, but that’s what Donald Trump inherited when he took that presidential oath.
The president is learning — and I use the term “learning” with extreme caution — the hard way.