Hate the Player, Hate the Game
I know, I’m not respecting myself for writing this. I’m almost ashamed and embarrassed for thinking perhaps Trump was right on one thing, sort of. Trump in his departing remarks noted that he was the only outsider as President. See good thing. We’ve been hearing for decades about who has got the best outsider credentials, who really has no experience. Now we know.
We can condemn the man, Trump. And we may condemn his record. We may even condemn his words when he was president. In fact, there is little not to condemn. But he gave us the experience of some one coming from outside the beltway, the businessman CEO who could ride in and tame the beast. Right the wrongs. And need I say it: drain the swamp. It’s seemed to be what the voters always wanted. Was he the ultimate bad experience as the outsider? To this I say, hate the player, not the game.
Some of us who disapproved when he left office (almost 70 percent of Americans) may experience great comfort at hearing and seeing professional politicians speak at Joe Biden’s inauguration. Many of us may have agreed that unity as Mr. Biden defined it in his address does not mean all of us will come together. It means many of us can pull together for the great good of us all, even for the ones who will not join with us (hint, hint: it’s the white supremacists).
It was Biden’s way of assuring the nicer folk that they don’t have to unite with the rabble-rousing insurrectionist racist scum who mauled down the barriers and clawed their way into the Capitol to Steal the Vote on January 6, 2020 in the Name of Trump. I for one just can’t reunite with them and I was glad to learn Biden said I didn’t have to. (I didn’t really need his permission).
In fact, there might be little to nothing good to say about Trump during his stint as President, with the exception of his turkey pardons. They provided a good laugh. (I’m speaking of the actual turkeys he pardoned once a year and not the ones he did just before he left the White House for good).
No, the one good point he made, albeit tangentially, not consciously at all, only to a relatively objective observer, is that maybe America could be run by a non-professional politician. Some one from the outside, like a CEO, who has fresh ideas, like Andrew Yang and his idea of instituting a minimum salary for all. Or Marianne Williamson’s idea of having a cabinet Secretary of Peace to teach meditation. In comparison to Trump, their ideas now sound a bit respectable if quaint, but are almost mainstream. There’s a lot of apps that came out to teach mediation.
But the executive branch is not the legislative branch. We commonly have a country run by politicians like Clinton or Bush part 2, both former governors. Sure, they were the executive leaders of their state, and had gotten experience in running big public institutions that they could put on their resume for president, unlike Trump.
Or we have Biden and Harris, and like Obama, both were Senators from the legislative branch, more law makers than executors of the law (sorry, wrong word, I should have used administrators, as I was probably thinking of executioner like Trump, who seemed to slash and burn laws with his machete of executive orders and cut the head of the executive branch, leaving all protective security agencies when he left run by acting heads after the real ones rolled.) They made laws, or tried to over the obstruction of Mitch.
But we never saw Supreme Court Justices running for president. Why doesn’t Justice Roberts run or Justice Sotomayor? They are at the top of their branch like a senator in Congress. But they don’t get big heads and full of self-importance. Why do senators think they are so much better then Supreme Court Justices or better qualified then them? Why do the Justices know their place but the legislators don’t? Insiders should stay inside their lane.
Fake it Till You Become One
All these previous presidents were insiders who jumped the fence, whether governors or senators. None of them truly had absolutely no government experience in serving the public good like Trump. They just lead us to believe they did.
Instead, they had to learn politics by practice, in the school of hard knocks, learning not to speak their minds but to talk out of both sides of their mouth, lower their morals, let their expectations lower on what they could really accomplish while keeping their ego inflated.
Like true politicians in democracies, they had to try to please different groups, disparate voices, whichever party they belonged to. Trump didn’t know these burdens, didn’t serve the public good, spoke out of just just one mouth (yes, I realize most of his thoughts were unfiltered written Twitter rages and didn’t come out of his actually pie-hole beneath his often glaringly loud nostrils.)
These professional politicians applying for the job of president had to waste so much time pleasing many but then made laws based on decisions that they knew would upset people within their own ranks. They often have to horse trade and compromise with members from other parties to pass laws that satisfied a general good while angering some internal and external groups and factions.
For this, for the sin of practicing democracy, they would be branded as fakes and phonies, not real people from soil and salt of the earth. This is America, they learned: You can’t please all the people all the time, or most people in your own damn party most of time, and after years of practice probably most nobody most the time — hell, you’re just a phony. It says so right their on your resume that America reads when you were applying for the job during the primaries: big beltway politician, decades of experience, graduated Ivy League summa cum laude, earned and clawed my way up and/or had family connections, Giant Fake. Passed some laws. Morally compromised. No longer trustworthy. Do not vote for [insert applicant name here].
Trump wasn’t burdened with this annoying experience. He was the outsider. You could tell because he was authentic in the way he spoke. He just had to satisfy the business elites, as he fancied himself to be, by giving multiple tax breaks to corporations that were paid for by cancelling the mortgage deduction of the middle class. The Trump Tax Act — his only major achievement. (One I wish he hadn’t achieved as I lost thousands of dollars I usually get back as a refund I saved all year by overpaying. My friends and neighbors also lost their deductions, then they saw it given to the corporations they worked for who then turned around and didn’t give them bonuses.)
Sure, Trump did lack the experience of serving the public good. He didn’t have to appear to help and care about others, trying to please different groups, building up a resume of public service. He could just appear on game shows and fire people as the big boss. Maybe Trump was just one bad apple.
True, he turned out to be far more callous and narcissistic then your average billionaire who gathers extreme wealth only to be forced to donate to charity come tax time by setting up a “foundation” that at least does a little public good (except Jeff Bezos of course, but he’ll get there). Trump’s charity/foundation in contrast served himself by collecting donations from others so he could commission paintings of himself. And I can hear you say that he was found guilty of abusing the charity law and had to shut it down. So he’s not a good example of your average billionaire who didn’t cheat the system and earned their extraordinary vast wealth.
Thus you could counterargue that Trump was not a typical CEO or businessman. Democrats might say he was terrible, a bad example. He ran his businesses into the ground, lost over a billion dollars by the mid 90’s, overinflated his assets to avoid taxes, double paid his daughter as an employee as outside consultant, sold junk bonds, and scammed the biggest German bank out of millions not once, not twice, but four times.
So, my main point. Which was… Oh yeah: that even if you think billionaire moguls versed in sheltering money from public taxes that pay for public infrastructure; billionaires who pay far lower taxes than their employees they pay minimum wage to, and in some cases just unfair wages though slightly higher so as to appear more generous (like Starbucks baristas); who have numerous mansions and offshore shell companies to stash their foreign money in to hide it from the tax man; who earned most of their vast wealth not through hard labor but because their asset value skyrocketed due to their stocks taking off while their competitors crashed before an IPO, suffered from a pandemic, or were bought out to be subsumed and completely eliminated; or billionaires who made literally millions and millions from dividends because rather than “honest” labor like a truck driver or factory worker (suckers!) they made backroom deals to fix prices or inflate discounts to their own competitors while suffering small government fines that didn’t really hurt financially (I’m looking at you Chicken of the Sea and Bumblebee with your price fixing; or Google and Facebook with your ad deal), then, then, what was I saying?
Oh yeah, you give outsiders a chance. Right. Captains of industry. Successful businessmen who know how to make deals. Corporate CEOs should not be locked out of serving the public as president due to lack of political experience. Instead, they have ‘real life experience.’ They know how to run a large organization efficiently and translate that into public service easily: shrink government (corporations know how to do Commerce we don’t need a department for that), downsize rapidly (i.e., send back immigrants), cut taxes (schools can be privatized), and execute (oops, there’s that word again, another slip). And innovate of course (I finally found a positive word, unless you consider Apple letting Google to be the main search provider a bad innovation as it extended Google’s search dominance).
Yeah, so give actual successful outsiders a chance next time. In the meantime, we’ll just have to endure competent experienced politicians like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as they piece our country back together and clean up the wreckage. But maybe next time in 2024: Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, no? What could go wrong?