If you can tweet it, it isn’t policy

There’s the old joke about the president of a dog food company who gets up to rally the troops at a sales meeting.
“Who has the best bonus program in the entire industry?” He shouts to his men.
“We do!” They shout back.
“And who has the best order fulfillment time in the industry?”
“We do!” The staff shouts back as one person.
“Who are the highest paid sales team in the industry?”
“We are!” They shout as they break into applause.
“Then why aren’t we number one in sales?
An uncomfortable silence fills the room. Finally a sales intern at the back of the room raises his hand. Everyone turns to look at him.
“Because the dogs won’t eat it?” He answers in a quavering voice.

President Trump must feel like the president of that dog food company lately. No matter what he proposes, the dogs will not eat it. The premises he works from seem sound. Premise number one is that we can make America safe by keeping out unwanted people. The problem is that from there he jumps to questionable solutions like building a wall to keep out Mexicans and Central Americans. His wall between the United States and Mexico should not be built for any number of reasons.

The first and most important is that the wall already exists where it is needed. You simply do not need a wall where there are fifty miles of trackless desert on either side of the border. The second very good reason is that as economic conditions have improved in Mexico and Central America, fewer people wish to leave their homes. The flood has become a trickle. The final and probably the most important reason is that we as a nation cannot afford to spend billions on a wall that is ineffective when that money should be used to rebuild hurricane ravaged Florida and Texas.

The travel ban from Muslim countries is another example. I am sure the president’s thought process went like this. Muslims extremists have caused havoc in Europe. We do not want them here. We cannot bar Muslims from the rich Arab countries, we have too much commerce with them, but we can at least bar people from the rest. No wonder he seemed surprised when the ban blew up in his face. He was trying to protect American lives after all.

Finally there’s the illegal aliens who have been here since they were children. I’m sure his thinking was that they are not citizens therefore they should not be here. Banning them is easy if you only think of them as a group. When you look at individuals affected, it quickly turns into a monstrous idea.

In all three cases, these were promises made on the campaign trail. The problem is that the narrow slice of people that these solutions appeal to is only a small portion of Americans.

The solution is simple, but not easy. Our president needs to surround himself with really smart people who understand how to make policy. That’s the easy part. Trusting what they say and actually doing what they advise is far harder. If you can fit policy into a tweet at 2am in the morning, it isn’t policy. It’s emotion.

I freely admit that I did not vote for President Trump, but I still want him to have a successful presidency. The stakes are high. Please listen to what the really smart people are telling you, Mr. President.

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