Thinking you can run a democratic government like a business is as silly as thinking you can run a mortuary like a birthing business. They exist on opposite ends of a spectrum. The mortuary and birthing business may both be for-profit businesses that require extra sensitivity in their workforces, but aside from that, no matter how good you are with formaldehyde? You’re never going to impress a woman who just wants her baby delivered safely. The entire purpose of government is different from the purpose of business. Business is in the “business” business – profiting its owners is its bottom line. Government is in the “of the people, by the people, FOR the people” business. Giving every single citizen the exact same shot at living the American dream via a truly leveled playing field – that’s the point of the exercise for government in a democracy like ours.
What makes America exceptional – and America is exceptional because nothing like it ever happened before in human history – is that whereas all other nations were products of a thousand years or more of local tribes evolving into a recognizable national identity, America (minus the Native American populations wiped out by European pathogens) is a nation made up of all the other nations. The white, Christian, land-owning men who founded America – well, they penned our founding documents – should be credited with having a brilliant idea (human self government informed by the French enlightenment) that they botched on the execution. Writing “All men are created equal” when you didn’t actually mean “all men” while meaning ONLY men isn’t what a successful execution of the concept looks like. America’s founders did not stick the landing. They missed the mat entirely.
Here’s an easy example of why you can’t run a democratic government like a business: slavery. Above everything else, slavery is stolen labor. The slave owner has purchased a slave in order to get the slave’s work product for free (minus the cost of the purchase and the “daily upkeep” – housing, clothing and feeding the slave). On a personal scale, that could be really expensive but what if you were growing labor intensive crops like tobacco, sugar cane and cotton as they did in the southern states? Had the southern states been forced to pay a fair market rate for all that labor (instead of using slaves), would the Confederacy have ever risen? I doubt it.
The Confederacy fought the Civil War over slavery (and not states’ rights). Not a single Confederate secession document mentions states’ rights. Ironically, the side arguing “states’ rights” was the union. But slavery? It gets plenty of mentions. Allowing slavery – as mortal a sin as a democratic government could imagine – wasn’t a political decision, it was a business decision with political ramifications.
In order to accommodate this business-driven evil, our democracy had to bend itself into unrecognizable shapes few of which resemble actual democracy. The Electoral College is a direct nod to slavery every four years. The structure of the Senate nods to slavery every damned day. Why do ya suppose there are TWO Dakotas? What, there were too many Dakotans for one Dakota? There are more people in LA County (12,459,000 people) than there are in the two Dakotas combined (774,948 in North Dakota, 887,099 in South Dakota) yet the two sparsely populated Dakotas get four Senators between them while heavily populated CA gets two. Washington, DC had 670,050 in it in 2021 while Wyoming had 578,803 people in it. For the record, Wyoming’s almost entirely white citizens have two Senators representing them, DC’s mostly non-white population has zero Senators.
This isn’t government being run like government, it’s government being run like a private business. It creates a world of haves (those that have the product – democracy) and those that don’t. The ones who don’t have it want to buy it. Those that have it – the white ones anyway – have it in their heads that any time a non-white person gets a little benefit from democracy, a white person somewhere looses that benefit as if the freedoms were somehow stuck somewhere in the supply chain.
Know who thinks you can run government like a business? Fascists. In fact, that’s their goal – to create a perverse mashup of business, politics and religion where the head of state – ruling like a divinely blessed corporate monarch – controls literally everything.
Ever notice how every time Democrats take over from Republicans (remember when it wasn’t an issue?), one of the first things they have to do is fix the economy? For fiscal hawks like Republicans, you’d think they’d demonstrate their financial smarts every time they got power. That’s never happened. Just because people are greedy and love money more than life itself doesn’t make them business geniuses. It just makes them greedy. and greed makes everyone stupid.
Republicans keep trying to run America like a business and failing miserably. You’d think they’d either take a hint or get a little smarter. As we’re about to learn, our Republican partners in this experiment in human self government have not been good partners. They’ve plotted against us while picking our pockets – guaranteed to get a response from us sooner rather than later.
Want to know why Republicans suck at governing? They have no interest in it. They haven’t a complementary skill set. They think democracy is for suckers. They see governing as a way to enrich themselves. Until we disabuse them of that notion? They’ll keep treating us like a mark.
Or a customer to be bamboozled.