Trump will fail because he is incompetent

The new president is drawing heavily on his experience as an owner-operator of a real estate business and reality TV star.

Being in government is very different from being outside government. Instead of asking questions, you have to answer them. Instead of criticising, you are being criticised. Instead of dreaming up great ideas, you have to make them work.

As a candidate for the Republican nomination and then as presidential hopeful, Donald Trump spent his time telling Americans what he would do (“build a great big beautiful wall,” “ban Muslims until we can figure out what the hell is going on,” “invest a trillion dollars in infrastructure”) without ever saying how.  

This approach was successful. He is now President Trump but seems to have forgotten the campaign is over. He won. It is time to deliver.

He and his small band of White House based supporters argue they are doing exactly that. Every day since his inauguration (and a bit before) he has been rolling out one order after another as if the rest of the complex American political system did not exist.

The media, politicians, Americans and the world have been left gasping in his wake. He is, his supporters say, doing just what he said he would do. He is a man of action.

Drawing on his experience
Mr Trump is drawing heavily on his experience as an owner-operator of a real estate business and as a reality television star. In both lines of work, he obviously became used to issuing instructions and having them carried out.

This approach also seemed to suit or express his personality. Mr Trump is, among many things, a narcissist. As such he needs constant feedback (note his obsession with ratings) that comes from constant action.

He needs to be doing something all the time to keep himself in the public eye and his ratings up. As Oscar Wilde said, and Mr Trump believes, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

But there is a problem. This is government, not the campaign trail. If he wants to build a wall along the southern US border, he will have to pass legislation, secure funding, find people to build it and get the people who own the land to sell it to the government.

If he wants an unwilling Mexican government to pay for the wall, a legitimate and effective method of securing the cash will have to be found.

Too busy to implement policies
All of this takes time. A lot of time and a lot of hard work. Yet the wall is just one of Mr Trump’s initiatives. He is also hiring 4000 public servants, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, banning migrants, cutting bureaucracy, changing the tax system, appointing a new Supreme Court justice, finding funds for infrastructure investment, enlarging the size of military, negotiating trade deals, overhauling the UN and offending as many countries as he possibly can in pursuit of an America First policy. I have missed a lot but you get the message. He is a busy man.

Too busy to implement his policies himself even though he appears to want to just that, he will find that he will have to rely on hundreds of thousands of other people who have to be briefed, resourced and organised to do the work.

No doubt he will complain that if everyone would just shut up and do what they are told all would turn out nicely. Like the ban on immigrants.  But this is not reality television. This is the real world where to be successful you have to be in for the long haul.   

So whether you agree with Mr Trump or not, I am afraid his presidency is going to end badly. The only question is how many people are going to get hurt in the process.

My guess is that the number will be very high because it would be naïve to think that he, or more importantly the small band of zealots that surround him in the White House, have any intention of changing course. These people are true believers and what we see as incompetence they see as disruption. They are having the time of their lives.    

We can only hope that the problems mount quickly and convince a majority of Americans to cut off his Twitter account. He is totally unprepared to run a government. His team wants to cause problems. Together they are harming America and the world.  They have to go.

Steve Maharey is a commentator on social and political issues and a former politician and vice-chancellor of Massey University. 

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