"Clumsily, aggressively, without care or concern, without self-control." This is the definition of a bull in a china shop, and the man currently in the White House. Unable, unwilling or both to understand the complexities of an interconnected global system, he acts like he's at the helm of his private companies; where his actions are contained, and the damage he does is moderated by his lawyers and sycophants, all minions heeding his every demand.
As the Republican columnist, David Brooks, points out in his New York Times editorial today January 31, 2017, "The Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration."
While his ethnic nationalist populist loyal base celebrates his strong man "drain the swamp" bravado, they miss the long-range negative consequences.
Watching this disaster unfold, I'm reminded of superhero movies based on comic book characters. People applauding the biff, boom, bang, their hero hands out to his enemies but never seeing the residual effects. Why should they? It would ruin their fun, and anyway, it's just a movie.
But when they leave their illusions in the darkness of their favorite theater they have the option to leave their fantasies as well. Not so in real life.
The jobs replaced by automation won't come back. The terrorism done by American citizens won't be eliminated by banning immigrants. The deregulation of laws that protect us and our environment won't provide clean air and water. The wealth that accrues to the top one percent won't trickle down. The clueless billionaires who head up agencies they don't understand won't be the saviors of the common citizen.
Is this the last gasp of a class of people who've had the reins of power and fear the loss of control to a changing demographic mix? Is this the unbridled greed of billionaires who will never have enough money and power? Is this the final nail in the coffin of representative democracy as it yields to corporatocracy?
I don't have the answers to these questions. But one thing I'm sure of is my experience in American corporations for a total of forty years. In that time, I saw this behavior close up and personal: Senior people who disregarded their own rules; who pandered to people's concerns in public while laughing behind closed doors; who only lost their absolute power when someone or something outside of their control brought it to an end. In most instances, their organization survives because its disease is excised with the exit of this executive.
We will survive.
The only question is how much damage will this bull in the china shop cause and how long will it take us to clean it up.
There is one possible savior. It's the Republican party. To be more precise, those serious members of the party who've seen it torn apart by internecine conflicts. Frankly, they will need to cure one of their own diseases first.
The last eight years they've shown an inability to put the country ahead of their own interests. Even today, they thread the needle by finessing their personal opinions of this bull. If they can overcome that failure, we have a chance. If they don't, we will suffer the fate of all the china shops I've seen decimated in my business career. And there were many.
So, these bulls in china shops are familiar to me. I've seen and suffered from their destruction. This man in the White House is an exact replica of all those I've seen before.
Ironically, in their own minds, bulls in china shops think they are unique. They aren't. This time the venue is different and the potential harm is larger by orders of magnitude. But there's nothing unique or different about Trump's behavior. He is the quintessential American corporatist acting out of intense interest in his own financial well-being.
Come to think of it, there is one difference in the circumstances. This time the corporatist in the White House directly owns the corporations that will benefit from his actions.