The Art of the Political Deal
It’s been over twenty years since my first book, The Art of the Deal, was published and many people have said that it should be given to the Obama administration as a reference guide on how to make deals. I don’t disagree.
Negotiation is a crucial matter when it comes to business, international and national affairs, and politics in general. It’s a form of diplomacy that actually reaps results instead of the smiles, friendly waves and deep bows we’re used to seeing these days. Too many politicians equivocate, which may appear to be clever, but it actually works to make one appear weak as well as ineffective. “Diplomacy: the art of restraining power” is what Henry Kissinger said. What’s missing in our current administration is the understanding of power and how to use it purposefully. I’ll be relieved when we have to worry about restraint—it will mean our negotiation skills have improved considerably.
The strategies of business are not so different from the strategies of governments. That’s why the lack of focus on the bottom line of this country, economically speaking, is a monstrous red flag that no business person could ignore or undermine. Why has Washington chosen to be negligent? I believe they know they are in over their heads and do not have the skills to remedy the situation. Indeed, it is a massive problem and it needs to be handled by people who understand money. Casting a blind eye is not an effective strategy.
I’ve often mentioned the stupid deals that are made that allow foreign countries to take advantage of us to a degree that is an embarrassment to any intelligent person. We’re not looking for international friends, we’re looking for fair deals. Why should they play fair if they know they can get away with billions of dollars with no repercussions? We look like fools because we have been fools.
“Playing politics” is an often used phrase that presents a very clear visual—someone running around the sidelines hoping to make a score at some point when the time is right for their own agenda. Their game has little to do with the welfare of their constituents, their state or their country. “Playing business” would have a different image. There wouldn’t be any playing involved, for one thing. No time would be wasted. Negotiations would be intense. Deals would be made. Everyone would be moving forward. There would be results.
Too many times we’ve seen important issues delayed or ignored only to emerge later as enormous messes that could have been diagnosed and cured early on in the game. Rhetoric does not provide answers—nor do rapturous speeches. I can understand the anger of a nation that has been waiting too long not just for answers but for results. Put the politics aside and get the business done. That’s the art of the deal, and that’s what is needed now.