After 10 days in the United States, and 216 hours or 12,960 minutes talking about the President-elect, how he won, his fiscal stimulus plans, his fraught relationship with the press, his tweets, his controversial comments about women, Mexicans and Muslims, the conflicts of interests, his children, who gets security clearance, his apologies, his friendliness towards Obama – I’m none the wiser about what kind of President Donald Trump will actually be.
What I do know is that this transition phase, just like his election, is nothing like we’ve ever seen before. If he succeeds in growing the economy and creating jobs, he’ll be applauded and respected. If he can’t boost growth and divides America even more, those around him will lose their credibility too.
So given that, frankly, it could go either way, the question I’ve heard whispered the most is: if you didn’t vote for Trump, would you serve under him?
Serving under such a different President has become an existential question. Do you put your country first and serve for the greater good no matter how much you disagree with the President? Or do you serve at the pleasure of the President and therefore have to agree with most of his policies and ideas? Here’s Mitt Romney’s tweet on 3 March:
“Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers; he gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”
But now, we understand that Trump may have a job for Romney. If he accepts the position, maybe Romney thinks he can change him, or maybe he thinks the President can change himself. Or maybe it was all just campaign rhetoric.
When I asked John Studzinski of Blackstone if he would serve if he got the call, he put it like this: “I like doing business with people I know. I don’t know him, so I would have to say no.”
Adair Turner, former FSA chairman, was one of the more interesting. When we asked whether he would serve under President Trump, he laughed raucously: “as a Brit I doubt I would get the call”. But then I asked him again. No seriously, would you? He said: “you know what, if I had a meeting with him where I could convince him that climate change was real and an issue, and if he agreed to address it, then I would consider it.”
Our loyalty to who we serve and what we stand for underpins everything we do. What the Trump presidency may prove is that, in an uncertain world, where the rhetoric is so divisive that people feel they’re losing their voice, serving the President may be the solution – especially if you disagree with him.
These views are not necessarily shared by Bloomberg.