Thursday, September 20, 2012

Businessman Romney vs. Presidential Candidate Romney

Ignore for a moment Mitt Romney’s stated Conservative values, attitudes, and policies, whether he believes them or not (who knows?).  Even ignore the fact that he’s a very rich man with a fuzzy, flawed view of the different kinds of people and struggles within the 47% he contemptuously lumped together, as well as everyone else who’s not rich.  The thing to keep in mind is that Mitt Romney is a senior corporate executive, not just in his past experience, but in his business view of political leadership.  There seems to be considerable sentiment that America needs a businessman at the helm, rather than a politician.  But Romney is proving them wrong.

Many Americans have come to dislike, mistrust and ignore politicians, dismissing them all as corrupt, self-serving and/or ideologues.  Of course there is more than a nugget of truth here.  But corrupt, crazy, blatant hatred and disrespect, and a lack of bipartisan camaraderie weren’t always the norm.  So, I still believe that many politicians become so because they genuinely want to serve the public good.

Unfortunately, I don’t think serving the public good is Gov. Romney’s motivation.  He doesn’t think like a sincere public servant, he thinks like a dedicated businessman.  For example, he doesn’t take the long view; businesspeople think in terms of business quarters and how they’ve performed.  He also doesn’t connect the dots among the many issues a nation faces and over which a president must preside simultaneously.  Very few of society’s problems exist in a vacuumwhereas in business, a malfunctioning situation may be isolated in one or more specific areas, or cohort, as Romney said the other day.  In life, a cohort is a friend.  In business, a cohort is a team, department, or division. 

As in business, Romney’s focus is on money – overhead and profit, in business; in political terms, the economy, deficit and debt.  He objects to spending in general and taxing the rich in particular.  But he does not see the connections between many social issues and why spending and taxing are needed, e.g., the connections between unemployment and outsourcing, downsizing, public service and private sector employment, primary/higher education and adult training, poverty, health care, child care, et al, the sum of which will shape our future.

Mitt Romney has taken on the role of politician in his years-long effort to become President of the United States.  But he doesn’t understand how to function in big time, hardball politics.  Like a good businessman, he understands the importance of delegating, so he has essentially delegated his campaign.  He’s laying low to avoid conflict and association with all his own untimely and revealing remarks , leaving his subordinates to fight the fight and take the heat.  In essence, Romney doesn’t understand that political leadership must quickly give way to national, governmental, personal leadership.  Politics and business are not the same thing, and confusing or interchanging them is bad business and dangerous politics.

It’s significant that Romney famously said corporations are people, and, that on a recent stump speech, he used the word “company” when he meant to say “country.”  When Romney says corporations are people, he’s not referring to a corporation’s human life/workforce.  He means a business entity, the legal paperwork that creates the foundation on which corporations function, is a person.  It’s a whole other kind of wacked “personhood.”

If Romney understood the rules and dynamics of social leadership as well as he understands the same things in business, he might be a force to be reckoned with (I still think he’d be a dufus, but let’s just say, for the sake of argument…).  The problem is Romney thinks being president is essentially being the CEO of the USA.

He wants to streamline and downsize and purge systems and personnel (citizens) that are not making the corporation…er, the country…profitable.  He’s more concerned with Return on Investment for his stockholders (the infamous one percent) than the contributions and needs of his stakeholders (workers and everyone else).  He wants to keep power and information close to the vest, and have his Cabinet function like a rubber-stamp board of directors – like any good CEO would.  This is a close race and Romney is a disaster waiting to happen.

I wish Romney would get out of politics and go back into business.  He might conceivably do some good.  With any luck, he’ll be available as of November 7th.

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