Alas, governing the United States is a task fundamentally different from running either a small business or a Fortune 500 company. You could even argue that the qualities that make for a good CEO — at least insofar as judged by American standards of capitalist success — are manifestly useless when applied to the job of steering the federal government.
Imagine how insane a micro-managing perfectionist like Steve Jobs would be driven if elected president? There is no perfection in government — there are only less disastrous compromises. And that’s without even getting into Jobs’ notorious penchant for secrecy and absolute control over how Apple is perceived by the outside world, which, if applied to the U.S. government, would instantly make the United States more totalitarian than China.
A private corporation doesn’t have to worry about keeping the country educated or the streets safe or buildings from burning down. But we do expect our government to do all these things. – Andrew Leonard in Solon
One might counter that even a CEO has a boss, the board of directors and ultimately the shareholders. But boards of directors of successful companies never interfere with the CEO’s decisions at the level that Congress can and does interfering with the President’s decisions. A representative democracy just doesn’t work like a business no matter how much some wish that it did. And that’s a good thing.
As Ed Brayton says, “Andrew Leonard points out the obvious.” But why isn’t it obvious to everyone? A while ago, someone asked Rachel Maddow if she ever saw herself running for public office. Her answer was, “No.” She didn’t think she had the right skill set. Governing requires making group decisions and she thought she would be bad at that. Maddow may be queen of her own realm; still, she is not a corporate CEO. But what she says of herself is also true nearly all corporate CEO’s. They just aren’t very good at group decisions. In fact, many of them have rather open disdain for group decisions. During my business career, I either was on the staff of the CEO or, before that, was invited to their staff meetings occasionally. Of the CEO’s I worked under, the one most open to group decision generally ended discussions by saying in effect, “I thank you for your thoughts but, remember, this is not a democracy.”