Trump’s, and the Country’s, Forthcoming Pain

I have seen this happening in Israel.

The Israeli military has a practice, or a rule, that its military brass has to retire early. This means that generals and colonels are out of the service at age fifty, but are still too young to fully retire. They look for work to do and usually join the business community or go into politics. That is where the pain comes.

These are people who have been responsible for thousands of lives, making life or death decisions. They have taken numerous courses on military leadership. Theoretically it should be a non-event for them to manage a business organization or lead a country after working with such high stakes, right?

Wrong.

Their entire military career was based on a very clear hierarchy, and within that hierarchy they had absolute power to make decisions based on their rank. Their subordinates had to comply or face jail. When former military leaders join a business organization or political party there is still a kind of hierarchy, but they do not have the absolute power they had within the military establishment. They experience a lot of pain from the need to adapt. Some retire, in spite of their relatively young age. Others go through the pain of adaptation to live with constraints they are not used to.

Now, consider the story of Donald Trump. He ran a family business, not a public company where the constraints on what he can and cannot do would have been more prominent. In his privately owned, family company, he was free to make his decisions as he saw fit, even if it led to bankruptcies. He made a lot of bad decisions but no one had the right to challenge his decisions.

The fact that Trump is an independent thinker who runs his own show as he sees fit was manifested in how he ran his campaign for presidency. He listened to no one. He defied and rejected his advisors. And he still won. His unexpected win probably reinforced his leadership style of running the show like an emperor: Trump, the one and only. (That explains for me his enchantment with Vladimir Putin—the one and only Putin. Their leadership style is cut from the same cloth.)

In Russia, an imperial leadership style is acceptable because the country does not have a history of democratic institutions, but this is not how the White House runs the show in the US. The USA is a world-class democracy. As president of this country, Trump will have to deal with political constraints he is not accustomed to deal with due to his leadership style, his character, and his long history of success (as he defines it).

So what is going to happen?

He will have to suffer a lot. He will have to manage, to lead, in a way he is not used to, or he will continue leading in the way that made him successful in the business world and, by doing so, violate some principles of democracy.

I believe he will go the second route. He does not strike me as a man who takes pain easily, or who is able to adapt to the new requirements a new situation poses. He will push, shove, and de-democratize the system of governance. The result could be a field day for the media, debating his moves—or actual impeachment. Even his own party, due to its greater loyalty to the country than to the president, could vote against him.

I believe America is facing leadership turmoil, which could spin out of control and lead to impeachment. In the process, the turmoil will sap energy from the system to deal with some chronic problems like immigration, criminal justice, taxation policy, the horrendous mushrooming debt, and the country’s position of power and leadership on the global scale. The ultimate result will be accelerated decline of this wonderful country as the leader of the free world and of Western civilization.

How sad.

Just thinking,
Ichak Kalderon Adizes