The Corporate Mindset and the Ignorance of Democracy

Running a corporation like Donald Trump’s real estate empire is a lot different than running a constitutional democracy, which is why the presumptive Republican candidate for president is so scary. Put aside for the moment his hateful view of women, Muslims, Hispanics, African-Americans, and in a special category Megyn Kelly, and concentrate on how a CEO operates compared to a president who embraces the laws and traditions of our form of government.

First of all we are country of laws not men or women, which simply means that those in positions of national power must recognize the constitution, the statutes passed by Congress, the rules set by the bureaucracy, where applicable the laws of state governments and of course the views of the people expressed through elections or other methods of free expression. A corporate CEO may have to listen to shareholders or key players holding large blocks of stock, but such institutional checks are quite weak and often ignored as the ol boy network comes into play to jack up salaries and give an occasional slap on the wrist of a wayward executive. Trump can fire people, push for torture, boast about deal making and insult friends and foes alike but that mode of behavior comes out of the corporate mindset and has little real world connection to the way a democracy works. We live in a governmental system of separation of powers, checks and balances, the rule of law, set procedures, democratic traditions, public opinion, and  constitutional guarantees. Simply stated, you can’t run the United States government as if it were Trump Inc.

Secondly, James Madison supported the concept of factions, what we call today lobbying organizations.  In Madison’s view, the more factions the better as a means of avoiding the excesses and irresponsibility of the masses. Corporate CEO’s are used to buying off special interests or making  insider deals that benefit both sides. But in our system there are thousands of lobbying groups, many not tied to the 1%, many capable of changing the course of legislation or at least forcing compromises. Donald Trump seems to have no conception that Madison’s factions cannot be ignored or bought off and that public opinion stirred up by lobbying groups is not a behavior that can be intimidated with thuggery. Trump has no idea how complicated our political system is and how difficult it will be to govern in an environment where thousands of lobbying groups seek to influence public policy. This is where the disaster of a Trump presidency lies.

Finally, the art of the deal is Trump’s mantra, and in some respects that is what Washington used to be- deal-making. Trump seeks to bring back the deal but he easily forgets that making a deal as CEO of his real estate company is different than making a deal with the Democrats or the Chinese, or the Mexicans. Trump deals may be made through bullying and threats but in the real world of Washington and the rest of the planet deals are negotiated not forced, quiet talk not bluster achieves resolution, a kind word or flattering remark often carries the day with adversaries, and most of all a half a loaf is usually what makes for success not some boast about winning it all. You can’t be the leader of the free world if you are an authoritarian bully schooled in the art of corporate control. In real world there are no easy answers, no shortcuts, no pushovers. CEOs like Trump have sold too many Americans with the corporate mantra but a simple look at our democracy, our constitution, our freedom of expression and our political realities should convince those willing to listen and study our government that we live in a republic not Trump Inc.

 

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