Saturday, April 23, 2016
This pointless... but fun
Dear Mr. Trump: You claim to be a “deal-maker”, and have written a popular book on the subject, The Art of the Deal. I’ve not read it, nor any other book dealing with negotiating to win-win, which I perhaps erroneously imagine to be the subject of your book. Ignorant of the formal process of negotiating, I would imagine it to involve some give-and-take, and leveraging both what we want and what we imagine the other party might also want. My model is to be found in a little book used in my 8th-grade civics class, Your Rugged Constitution. This text presents each article and clause of the U.S. Constitution verbatim, followed by a brief discussion that ends with two brief paragraphs: “What you give” and “What you get”. Yes, there is always a trade-off! In my professional career, from which I am now retired, I was a statistician working for a multi-national corporation. In this capacity I was involved in many negotiations with managers and engineers. The subject was always how best to leverage data to achieve bottom-line results. In one of these negotiations I employed a theorem from mathematics called Heron’s formula for the area of a triangle based on the length of the three sides. Heron’s formula had nothing to do with the specific issue at hand, but was useful as an analogy. It was a difficult negotiation. Eventually I succeeded, and convinced a very reluctant engineer that I had solved his problem. My solution was quickly adopted by the multi-national corporation for which I worked as THE best solution to what had been viewed as a nearly intractable problem. I relied on my professional expertise, mathematics, history, and wit to sell this solution. I never bullied anyone. My partner in negotiations, the reluctant engineer, was eventually won over. He saw the advantage of embedding his engineering insights into a solid mathematical model. Both of us benefitted from my solution to the problem. This was a win-win negotiation. Winning the Republican nomination for President seems to be the ultimate deal-making opportunity for you. You’re not succeeding. Where is “The Art of the Deal” in your appeal to the electorate? To date I have seen no evidence that you recognize your quest for the Presidency as a deal-making negotiation. Your brash trash-talking provides little evidence that you are seeking to make any kind of deal with the American electorate, or with their elected representatives in Congress. You assure us that you will be able to get Congress to do your bidding, but provide no evidence that you have any idea how to do this other than verbal bullying. You tell us you can get along with other political leaders, but do nothing but call them mocking names. You promise to deal with your perceived enemies, but do nothing but insult them, repeatedly. You call people mocking and insulting names. You present yourself as a victim of conspiracies. Where might we find any hint that you do, in fact, know how to make deals that involve mutually beneficial compromise? You assert, without providing any details, that you could re-negotiate deals involving trade and national defense to better advantage than those currently holding. While vehemently maintaining that we’ve given away the farm on every international deal, you suggest no incentives to our partners for them to reconsider re-negotiating existing treaties and mutual obligations. What might you offer to our partners for them to contribute what you call their fair share? Yes, you’ve made abundantly clear that you think we’ve been snookered, but you have yet to propose anything that might induce our trading and defense partners to re-negotiate existing treaties and obligations, presumably to our mutual advantage. While claiming to be your own man, self-funded, accountable only to yourself and to your supporters, you refuse to take responsibility for the actions of your supporters or for your own statements. You hesitate to condemn the ardent racism of your white nationalist supporters. You promise to provide legal assistance for your supporters who blatantly, on camera, assault protesters at your campaign events. You deny, repeatedly and consistently, your own statements in support of various controversial positions. “I never said that” is one of your refrains, even when confronted with video evidence. When backed into a corner you resort to bromides, “Yes, it’s a disaster!” – regardless of the specific topic. Whatever it is, it’s a “disaster”. Our prison system? “It’s a disaster!” The economy? “It’s a disaster!” Employment? “It’s a disaster!” Our response to ISIS? “It’s a disaster!” Trade with China? “It’s a disaster!” Do you provide any evidence that you understand any of these issues? No. Do you propose any specific remedies? No. You simply assert, “It’s a disaster!”, and move on to the next topic – which for you is invariably, “I’m a deal-maker”. Mr. Trump, I would LOVE to have a great deal-maker in the Oval Office. I would LOVE to have someone who truly understands the art of negotiation, to deal both with a recalcitrant Congress and with our international friends and enemies. I would love to have a President who clearly sees both our strengths and our weaknesses, who can leverage the former and mitigate the latter in honest hard-fought negotiation. You have yet to convince me that you are that deal-maker. Your presidential campaign has been built on petty peeves, paranoia, and petulance. I don’t want a candidate who ACTS presidential. I want a candidate who IS presidential. You are not that candidate.