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Run government like a business, or not

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Civic

Run government like a business, or not

Republicans have been appealing to their base for as long as I have been involved in politics with some version of the headline above.  If we ran government just like a business we would be much better off.

And of course, it sounds, well, sound.  But it isn’t.  It isn’t in any way.  Whether it’s local government, state government or the federal government the duties and responsibilities of the people who make laws, execute the laws, and run our government is fundamentally different than a business that exists to make a profit.

I got into a long “discussion” with a Trump voter last weekend and with every point I made about what a tool the President is, he continued to defend his vote for Trump by saying we needed someone outside of government to come in and shake things up, that we needed a business minded person to fix what was wrong.

Imagine if you will, that your doctor did a scan of your brain and gave you the news that you had a brain tumor.  The good news is that it was operable and you could resume a normal life once the tumor was extracted from your cranium.

Upon hearing this news, you decide that, well, by golly, I am tired of how the health care system is being run in this country, I am going to get a real estate magnate to perform the surgery on my head.

Needless to say, that would be insane.  And you wouldn’t do it.

Now, almost everyone agrees the hardest job on planet Earth is being the President of the United States.  Harder than being a brain surgeon even.  And yet, many people, even when they agree being President is really hard, can’t make the leap that the reason it is so hard is that it takes some pretty good political skills.

Dealing with other heads of state requires political skill.  Getting legislation through Congress requires political skill. Our system of government was devised by politicians who had political skills and so one needs some familiarity not just about political skills but also how it all works.  That is to point out that Trump lacks both. And he is failing precisely because of his lacking.  There can be little doubt that he is a showman and knows how to dominate a news cycle.  But he has not a clue how to be President.

Only one President in the modern era had never been elected to any office before assuming the office and that is Dwight David Eisenhower. He was successful, though, because he had spent his entire life up to that point in the military, which is part of the government and he had to be accountable to politicians every day.

Political skill can be either learned or innate.  But even the folks who have an innate ability need time in the “trenches” to hone the skill.  The best brain surgeon, the best anything isn’t born doing it.  The same goes with being President. It’s the hardest job in the world and it requires more political skill than any other to be successful.

It isn’t much like running a business where everybody does what they are told and you can enforce your will by edict. That only works in autocracies.  Which is probably why Trump is so frustrated and continues to flail around and gives signals of wanting to be an autocrat. He lacks the political skills to sit in the office he inhabits. He should leave. He is way out of his league.

And we all should dispense with the stupid notion that someone outside the system can fix it.  We need experience and political skill in the most political job on planet earth to help fix our problems and our country.

 

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Kip Tew is a partner at Ice Miller and the former head of the Indiana Democratic Party, the Marion County Party, and headed up the Obama campaign in Indiana in 2008. He is a regular talking head on WRTV-6's Indy This Week. Other than politics, he also loves sports, particularly the Colts, Pacers, and Indiana Hoosiers football ( yes football) and basketball. He is the author of the book Journey to Blue, How Barack Obama won Indiana in 2008

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