Failing Fast

In software product development, we have the concept of "failing fast". Basically, the idea is that we recognize that while failure is expensive, both in terms of development cost as well as time, failure is also inevitable with any kind of innovative venture. So, because we cannot avoid failure, we instead attempt to "fail fast" -- try and test out a new idea as quickly and as cheaply as possible, so that we can iterate through as many ideas as possible before we run out of time or money, maximizing the chances that we'll hit on a winning idea.

I have seen people (mostly conservatives) scolding those liberals who are hoping that Donald Trump will fail as President, and I have to admit, they have a point. A failed Presidency benefits no one, and despite the massive misgivings many rightfully have about Trump as a policymaker and as a leader, I would rather see him change course and succeed in uniting a deeply fractured country than fail and flail angrily at anyone and everyone over the next four years.

But if Trump is to fail, it would be best for everyone if he failed fast. Most dramatically, many liberals would hope this comes in the form of an impeachment, for which the betting odds are currently 4/1 in the first six months alone.

But assuming that Trump avoids failing his way out of office completely, I hope that at least he fails fast with regards to his governing style. Two days in, Trump the President seems identical to Trump the Campaigner, but I can't imagine his "insecure tough guy" schtick, where he projects bombast and confidence while paradoxically attacking every perceived slight personally, no matter how irrelevant, all while gaslighting the American people with his own version of reality, will remain effective as he attempts to govern. One can only hope that he fails quickly and attempts to change course, adapting to the realities of governing and leading a divided nation, until he finds a tack that provides more effective leadership than what we have seen thus far.

Perhaps the experience of another unlikely celebrity-turned-politician will ultimately prove instructive. Arnold Schwarzenegger rode fame and a quirky political moment into high office in California, but soon found his natural style to be ineffective in actual governance.

But Schwarzenegger was an "illustrative failure"... Mathews says, "He did us a great service because he tried everything. He fought with people, he circumvented the legislature and went to the ballot measure, he compromised, he tried for spending caps, rainy day funds, raising taxes, cutting programs, working with the Republicans, working with the Democrats." Because Schwarzenegger was "flexible and nothing worked," Mathews says the governor opened people's minds to the need for systemic reform."

In the end, I'm unsure how effective the Governator actually was, but I sure am glad he tried so many things. His failures were instructive, and illustrated both the power, and the limitations, of the Governor's office in California.

So no, I don't wish to see a failed President Trump -- though I also don't wish him to succeed with many of his current policy proposals. I want him to fail, and fail quickly, so that perhaps he -- and the nation -- can try something else (anything else!) that might lead towards a stronger, more unified America.

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