Donald Trump should be commended for firing National Security Adviser Micheal Flynn after it was revealed that he had improper contact with Russian officials and misled Vice President Pence about the nature of his dealings with Russian officials. Given Flynn’s forced resignation comes only weeks into his and Mr Trump’s tenure, the affair emboldens Trump critics and, most likely, undercuts confidence in the Trump Administration. On the other hand, the willingness to take action against discredited public officials like Flynn, who need removed from government, is very much needed. The willingness to fix a problem or a mistake, instead of burying it, is in short supply when it comes to politics.
Republican should also be commended for standing against Andrew Puzdera as a thoroughly unfit nominee for Labor Secretary. Mr. Puzdera’s failings as an employer and head of an industry that survives by suppressing the cost of labor makes him more qualified to act as the anti-Labor Secretary than an the advocate for labor. When it came to confirming Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, Republicans chose to vote with the head of their political party and against Democrats when they needed to vote based on the quantification and personal merits of the nominee. Devos is a wealthy political hobbyist who has a superficial understanding of education and lacks the insights needed to contribute anything constructive to education policy. In a polarized political environment, it is heartening to see Republicans making decisions based on substance and not political calculations.
A great deal of the dysfunction in politics stems from the crushing backlash that comes from making a mistake and never ending public scrutiny. Because the cost of making a mistake is so high in Washington, political figures have become increasingly less likely to take risk. While elected officials need to b able to, at least, explore novel solutions to public policy issues, risk averse public figures are discouraged from openly exploring any options or ideas outside of those widely accepted by their political base. In turn, elected officials are also less likely to admit to making mistakes. Because all people make mistakes and all people make mistakes often, those in the public spotlight learn to hide their mistakes, which leads to all sorts of other issues as they fail to correct their mistakes.
Looking at the Trump Administration’s handling of the Flynn Scandal before it became a scandal, there was an apparent reluctance on behalf of the Trump team to admit that they might have made a mistake in selecting Flynn or that Flynn could have done anything wrong. Although a greater willingness to accept criticism on behalf of the Trump Team may have helped prevent a scandal before it became a scandal, resistance to valid criticism on was the result of unchecked criticism. In Washington, there is always plenty of criticism surrounding the options available, but few solution to replace the options. Mr. Trump nominated several controversial nominees, because he wanted to flush the political system of deeply entrenched insiders. Trump’s nominees may be controversial figures in the world of power special interests, but their controversy makes them change agents in the eyes of Trump.
Americans should want their President and other public official to challenge the status quo in government with change agents who can break the grip of the dysfunctional, self-serving political establishment. American need, however, constructive change agents, not a new generation of incompetent and/or self-serving public officials. Consequently, there is valid criticism that President Trump needs to hear in order to pick better qualified outsiders who will craft constructive change in government. Because Mr. Trump is fairly new to politics, and government in general, mistakes are expected. While the decisions of leadership must be thoroughly scrutinized, Trump and other leaders must be commended for trying to fix their mistakes. Leadership should also be encouraged to take measured risks in order to improve public policy and government.
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