Businessmen generally make bad politicians, perhaps it's because they don't follow their own rules

republican business principleRemember the days when our government was made up of attorneys, educators and career civil servants? The US Congress consisted primarily of intellectuals and those who understood the needs of the people.

These days there are more businessmen representing the federal government than lawyers or any other profession. Of those who list their prior occupation as simply “businessman”, the overwhelming majority of them are Republicans.

Apparently, business people and those who vote for them think entrepreneurs make great politicians. Well, there are a number of things wrong with that assumption. While the management might seem similar, the business of a country is not the same as a company.

For one, the owner of a company is the director of his employees and they work for him for the betterment of the business. In government it’s reversed, or at least it’s supposed to be. The citizens direct their elected officials for the betterment of the country.

Most businessmen are not used to listening or taking orders. At least not from the riffraff at the bottom of the socioeconomic chain. If you think companies or corporations look to their customers for advice, you’re not living in the 21st century.

Still, once Republican businessmen get into office they no longer follow the main business principle that makes most businessmen successful. Before starting a business, the general rule of thumb is to find a successful company similar to the one you want to start and duplicate their system.

If a particular system of operation works well for a company, the best thing to do is copy it and try to improve on it. Innovation is still important, but that comes later when you’re on solid financial ground. The thinking is; if it worked for them, it should work for me. It would be a tremendous mistake to open a fast-food chain and do the opposite of McDonalds. Their system is fine, it’s their product that sucks.

If businessmen think emulation is the key to success in business, how come Republican businessmen refuse to bring this mentality with them when they get elected to office? This is the one instance where you can take a business principle and apply it to governance.

The United States has been considered average in education for some time now and it isn’t simply due to a lack of funding. A smart businessman would see the problem and start looking for a system that works better. In this case the solution would lie in a country like Finland.

The United States also has a problem with providing affordable healthcare. But no one bothered to look at France or Japan. In the aftermath of the banking crisis, no one looked at Iceland for a solution.

Hoover, bush, business principal
Businessmen Hoover and Bush

The truth is Republicans are quick to dismiss places like Finland, France and Iceland because despite their results, their ideology forces them to. Smart businessmen however, would never let their ideology dictate how they run their business. That is a road to ruin.

Upon election, Republican business people seem to lose their business sense in order to push an agenda that better benefits the people they used to be. Businessmen have twice been elected President of the United States in the last hundred years. The first one was Herbert Hoover who steered the country into the crash of 1929 and the first years of the great depression. The second (and better example) was George W. Bush who walked the country into two wars and the great recession. Coincidence? Maybe.

My point is; when Republican business people get elected to office, they forget (whether intentional or not) the main fundamental principle that made them successful in the first place. If they had remembered, the systems that operate within the United States would look a lot more… Scandinavian.


  1. Businessmen ARE applying business principles in government quite literally: they run government for the benefit of their business and that of their cronies.

    Whether that serves the public good is inconsequential to them.

  2. I don’t think it’s so much that businessmen make bad politicians as much as they are businessmen who believe the government can benefit them and their corporations through legislation. I suppose that makes them poor legislators in that they don’t care about the constituents they are supposed to be representing. Our government is run by money changers, for money changers and if you aren’t one you are the loser in this corporatocracy.

  3. Good article…. However there is one point you missed.

    Business are run to make a Profit for their Shareholders or Owners… Governments Don’t, and shouldn’t even try!

    The #1 problem with the American Health care system is that it is run for a Profit… If they can’t profit from my misery, then they are not interested! Does this make sense?

    The ‘Public Good’ MUST not be a Profit-Making endeavor.. It leads to Reduction in Quality of Education, Health Care and Infrastructure, as well as over-crowded Prisons, Hospitals and Classrooms as Business look to cut corners and increase Profit! The idea that ‘market pressure’ will serve to hold down prices is as ridiculous and illusionary as was/is the ‘Trickle Down Theory’!

    Government should, of course be concerned by wasteful spending and corruption, but should never cut needed services if they are unprofitable…. That is why we pay taxes…. To provide services to those who need it Most! Not those that need it Least!

    And that is why governments run deficits… it is there to provide necessary services even when the available cash is depleted… and why Taxes must keep up with need, and why the well-off must pay more than the destitute!

    That is the American Dream!

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