If we were voting on hiring a CEO, the choice is clear. But actually, it’s a vote of you or the group.
The way American voters choose for whom they’ll vote for president is probably as varied as the license tag numbers on Florida automobiles. Everyone makes different judgments — on personality, character, age, policies, political party, spouses, record, personal interaction with the candidates, financial matters, hair and on and on.
But this being a business publication, let’s pretend this decision is really what it should be: a business decision.
Imagine you are a member of a corporation’s board of directors, and you and your fellow directors have narrowed down your long search for a new CEO to two candidates: Donald Trump or Joe Biden.
Whom would you select?
Of course, it all depends: What does the company need at this particular moment? What’s the condition of the company? Is it expanding rapidly and need a leader experienced in managing fast growth? Is it in financial trouble — runaway expenses, losses and in need of fast-acting turnaround leader to clean house and restart? Does it need a leader who can serve as a bridge to the next generation and just keep the business steady as it goes, tweaking pieces here and there?
And which of the two candidates is best suited to address the company’s present needs?
If only Americans had the inclination to evaluate USA Inc. and the presidential election that way.
WHO CAN RUN USA INC. BEST?
To a great extent, that’s what the election is really about: Who can run this gargantuan business most effectively? Who has what it takes — Donald Trump or Joe Biden?
OK, OK. Many of you are likely saying you wouldn’t select either of them. You’d keep looking. We all know the line: In a country of 330 million people, and these are the two best we can come up with?
Yeah, well, that’s democracy. You never get the best of the best. So we’re stuck with these two. Which of them would make the better CEO? And let’s keep in mind the condition of the business.
It’s a mess.
Spending is totally out of control. The payroll is bloated far beyond any rational business sense. Corruption is rampant in numerous departments. And the company has totally strayed from its founders’ core principles creating a framework for its customers (U.S. citizens) to pursue life, liberty and happiness at their fullest with limited interventions from the back office operations.
To be sure, you can make a persuasive argument that USA Inc. needs an indefatigable, energetic, thick-skinned, tough, laser focused, fast-acting, decisive, fearless leader. Someone who will not accept the status quo. Someone who, while being tough to the point of almost being ruthless, has the charisma and people skills to win over doubters and bring aboard fellow leaders who can get the job done.
And do it with integrity — without compromising financial or moral scandals.
If you’re really honest about the situation, you would have to conclude Trump clearly has more of the above CEO qualifications than does Biden. He knows what it takes to start and run businesses — and do so successfully. And like any good entrepreneur, he has had successes and failures, the latter serving as unforgettable lessons. Trump has signed paychecks all of his adult life. He knows the weight and burdens of risk — of employees and their families relying and trusting his decision-making.
Biden basically has never held a private-sector job and as a Washington politician for 47 years has no experience as a CEO.
It’s a clear choice.
But now pretend that you’re in the board room, and one of your fellow directors says: “I know Trump has far more business leadership and management experience than Biden, but frankly, I can’t stand the guy’s narcissism and bombastic behavior. Everything is all about ‘I.’ Is that what we want at the head of our company? What about all that womanizing that occurred years ago? Can we trust this guy? To me, it’s all about integrity and trust.”
Indeed, as you look over Trump’s three-and-a-half-year record in office, the way he has handled the firing of some of his cabinet members and top aides — ugh.
But at the same time, you would have to give Trump credit for getting things done — articulating what needed to be done and doing what he said he would do. You have to like that in a CEO (and especially in a politician). What’s more, it also would be accurate to say Trump hasn’t been involved in any personal scandals — e.g., affairs or financial conflicts benefiting his family. One other factor in his favor: His work ethic and commitment to the job have been unparalleled; the guy doesn’t rest.
What are Biden’s CEO skills?
Now compare all of that to Biden and his record. What business has he started and run successfully? What in his career has he done to demonstrate he has CEO qualities, characteristics and abilities? Be honest.
We know there are millions of Biden supporters simply because they cannot stand Donald Trump. But at the same time, if you’re sitting as a director of USA Inc., and your primary duty is to protect the fiduciary interests of shareholders and the company; and if you are brutally honest about the professional records of these two candidates — their personal flaws aside, the scorecard should be obvious.
If this were a business decision, the choice would be clear.
Of course we know millions of Americans don’t see this choice as strictly business.
A CHOICE OF PHILOSOPHIES
There is another way to look at the election. Forget their personalities, forget the two candidates’ skills. Instead, the truth is your vote, ultimately, comes down to choosing one of two philosophies:
Either the belief that you have an inalienable right to your own life, to your own liberty, to exist for your own sake and to pursue your own happiness or that the collective group is superior to you and you are subservient to the group, a slave of the state that holds all power over your life.
Freedom or dictatorship.
Capitalism or statism.
The peaceful and voluntary exchange of goods and services or government mandates and coercion at the tip of a gun.
Acceptance of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Or their rejection.
When you vote, you are choosing the philosophies and ambitions of the political parties. You might think you are voting for the person, the candidate. But when that candidate chooses a political party — even in local and state races, he or she is declaring an acceptance of that party’s beliefs and tenets.
Historically, conventional acceptance is that those with the “R” behind their names believe the individual is above the group — though, over time, particularly in Washington, that distinction has shrunk. Too often in Washington, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the Republicans and Democrats, so beholden they are to the entrenched D.C. establishments.
In contrast, those with the “D” behind their names historically put the group ahead of the individual. And in this cycle, many of those in leadership and most outspoken in the Democrat Party have shifted so far left they are boldly claiming allegiance to socialism, enslavement of the individual to a ruling elite.
This is the philosophical and real choice in this election — manifested in the personas of Trump and Biden, flawed characters to be sure. Trump, who stands on the side individual liberty, capitalism and the Constitution. Biden, who stands on the side of the ever-expanding government Leviathan, enslaving Americans to how the elites want and demand you to live.
This brings to mind Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek’s summation of individual liberty and democracy in his book, “The Constitution of Liberty”:
“If democracy is a means of preserving liberty, then individual liberty is no less an essential condition for the working of democracy. Though democracy is probably the best form of limited government, it becomes an absurdity if it turns into unlimited government. Those who profess that democracy is all-competent and support all that the majority wants at any given moment are working for its fall.”