by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As we mark the halfway point of President Trump’s term, we might ask ourselves how a disrupter presidency has been working for the country — or for him. That term seems to be the one that best characterizes his presidency: First disrupting the Republican Party and presidential campaigns, then presidential style and communication, government policy, foreign alliances, and then the partial closure of the federal government itself.
Disruption is primarily a Silicon Valley term, describing how an innovator or entrepreneur starts a new business that disrupts and changes an entire industry. …
… There is a case that the federal government greatly needs disrupting. President Ronald Reagan spoke of government as the problem and sought to push power and money back to the states and to individuals, but the federal juggernaut largely rolled on. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore tried reinventing government, but little changed. Many voters found Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington as a way to undertake fundamental change that was long overdue.
But leading the federal government as disrupter-in-chief turns out to be both difficult and limited in its long-term effect. For starters, there is really no way to carry out a Silicon Valley-style disruption by creating an alternative to how the federal government operates. There is no Uber or Amazon that we can develop in a skunkworks and spring on our nation’s capital. Consequently, Trump has been left to disrupt as more of a wrecking ball than as an innovator.