President-Elect Trump can revolutionize governing as he revolutionized campaigning.
Trump is uniquely positioned as the first nonmilitary, nongovernment, person to ever be elected President. His mandate for change will overwhelm those wanting an ever expanding and dysfunctional government to prevail.
The Washington Establishment defends the status quo by asserting: “we have always done it this way”; “you can never run government like a business”; “we are unique”; “we have already cut what can be cut”, and “cutting anything will harm Americans”.
Trump is already doing things his way, breaking new ground as he goes. The media and the Establishment were against Trump since he announced his candidacy and were consistently wrong about everything relating to Trump and the 2016 elections. They are now foolishly attempting to second guess Trump, hold him to some arbitrary transition schedule, and giving him unsolicited advice.
These unrelenting, but always wrong, voices ignore that President-Elect Ronald Reagan named his core cabinet on or after December 10, 1980, thirty-six days past his landslide election. They also refuse to mention that none of Trump’s appointments can be confirmed until the new 115th Congress convenes on January 3, 2017. The first Senate confirmation hearings cannot take place until that first day of the new Congress. Trump can take his time and get things right from the start.
Trump is crafting his own way of governing. His only requirement is to seamlessly transition to power. Think of a relay race where one runner is completing their segment while the other is beginning theirs. Ideally, both runners achieve stride for stride coordination until one passes the baton to the other. America’s civic culture is tested and proven strong every time this peaceful hand-off occurs between opposing parties.
Once the “baton is in hand” President Trump will end the Obama era. Ronald Reagan took time, immediately after his Inaugural Address, to sign Executive Orders ending the Carter era. Trump should move this decisively.
Realigning and mobilizing the Executive Branch to achieve his top priorities will be the first test of Trump’s ability to lead.
Trump must instill a “sense of urgency”. November 8 was a massive Taser blast to the heart of the Washington Establishment. They remain stunned, dazed, and confused. Trump must move swiftly to achieve his goals before the Establishment awakes.
Revolution’s worst enemy is delay. Trump is an intuitive thinker and doer. He must act aggressively on his instincts and not let over analysis paralyze his cause.
The federal government is ridiculously huge. Its size and growth are unnecessary. In its first 129 years, America became a world power, the leader in technology innovation, and an industrial juggernaut, with only six Cabinet Departments. All Cabinet Departments, except Treasury, fit into the Old Executive Office Building until World War I. The door knobs in the building still display the Departmental seals.
Rethinking the role of government can be Trump’s greatest contribution to America. Private initiative makes America great, so government should only exist when an overwhelmingly compelling case can be made. Even then, incentives and sanctions through regulation, taxes, or fees, should be exhausted before a new government program is created. Except for Coolidge and Reagan to varying degrees, no incoming President has ever conducted such a fundamental review.
Much of what sent America over the fiscal cliff were the actions of President Lyndon Baines Johnson in the 1960s. LBJ cynically established the modern welfare state to entrap large swathes of the electorate in an ever expanding federal leviathan. LBJ’s “great society” programs drove millions into voting for Democrats and drove America trillions into debt.
Trump knows government growth can be reversed. Personnel and costs can be dramatically cut. Agencies can be abolished, like the Civil Aeronautics Board.
Under President Reagan, the General Services Administration invoked a hiring freeze and radical reorganization that reduced employment from 34,000 to 12,000 in three years. Costs plummeted while the quality and responsiveness of services skyrocketed. Under Speaker Gingrich, all non-parliamentary and non-security operations were consolidated within a new Chief Administrative Officer. Aggressive outsourcing and business based operations cut employment in half. Once again, costs plummeted while quality and responsiveness of services skyrocketed.
As President Trump reshapes the Federal Government he needs to take to heart the immortal words of two of America’s most successful Presidents. Calvin Coolidge directed his appointees to “Trim wherever you can”. Ronald Reagan had a sign on his desk that inspired his team, “It CAN be done”.
Scot Faulkner is the best-selling author of: "Naked Emperors: The Failure of the Republican Revolution." He also served as the first chief administrative officer of the U.S. House, and was director of personnel for the Reagan campaign and went on to serve in the presidential transition team and on the White House staff. During the Reagan administration, he held executive positions at the FAA, the GSA, and the Peace Corps. Read more of Scot Faulker, Go Here Now.
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