Two more days of taking these damn pills, mused the professor as he waited for the students of his honors seminar to arrive and settle down. At least I’m feeling better. A lung infection at my age is not a good thing. Today I’ll give my students something to think about in the world of governing, political commentary, and the royal opposition.
“Good Morning class. Today, I’ll do the work. After all, you are paying outrageous tuition to attend this university. So, this over-paid professor will try to earn his paycheck. I’ve been encouraging you to learn how to identify, approach, and solve problems. But problem solving is not done in a vacuum. It plays out against a backdrop of the requirements of governing.
“We’ve elected a president who is not an ideologue. At his core, he is a pragmatist who is very much at home identifying and solving problems. In his world, past and present, wins are counted by the number of problems that were successful solved. By solved I mean problems where the primary parties walked away feeling they had gotten as much as they could from the negotiations. That doesn’t mean they won or lost. It means the solution to the problem is acceptable to their group, even if it was difficult for all of them to swallow the agreed upon solution.
“The process of governing demands the needs of the citizens be met as well as the resources available allow. At the center of nearly all solutions to problem solving in the national arena is the question of the existence and allocation of resources. A solution without the required resources, is no solution. That is why the big problems of health care and tax reform have, so far, proved to be elusive. President Trump is probably one of the best problem solvers in the country with decades of experience. But he is now working on problems that are far beyond the scale of problems that he has worked on outside the process of national governing.
“What his critics call ‘flip-flopping’ should be labeled reconsidering based on new facts and/or failed approaches. The President calls this flexibility and I can accept that terminology. Only ideologues stick with the same solution even when it has not worked or revealed several flaws in application. Changing your mind in the face of failure or new data is a very rational approach. His liberal critics don’t accept a conservative leader changing his mind. After all he said very different things on the campaign trail and now he is flip-flopping. Pragmatists look at such comments and can’t believe what they are hearing. The art of governing depends on leaders who can react to new information or the changing nature of the problem. Only hard over ideologues, of the left or right, and members of the media who need to find provocative comments to improve the size of their audience believe in raising alarm over leaders who react rationally to changing facts and environments.
“The Art of Governing requires leaders who can quickly adapt to changes and who do not feel they are bound by comments and positions they have taken in the past.”