Pretend you’re Trump. Then You’ll understand all of his cabinet appointments.

Just like any other person these days, I’ve been dragged into countless conversations about The Donald. When it comes to his conflicts of interest, I find it strange that everyone obsesses about the micro, rather than the macro. Trump’s personality, history, and actual statements paint a pretty clear, consistent, end-to-end picture. Here’s the little thought experiment I have in mind. Hyperlinks summarized at bottom.

Let’s pretend you’re Trump for a second.

You’re a businessman with a global network that . TRUMP. You’re also notorious for how much you that brings you. The future of your businesses — no matter what you say about bringing jobs back to America —. Finally, you’re definitely of .

Trump.com via AFP

Well, is there any more high profile, internationally recognized position in the entire world ? No. Is it illegal to use it for personal gain? . To top it all off, a run for President might . So:

Step 1: Run for president and let the publicity — which there will guaranteed be a lot of (imagine the headlines!) — wash over your businesses — again, tied directly to your name, TRUMP — like a wave of cash. You literally can’t go wrong. You even spelled this out in your book, . It’s time to you mastered on Celebrity Apprentice. You’re going to dominate the news cycle: publishers — even the ones that don’t like you — . You’re bringing ’em . So now what? Take over those eyeballs. Run for president and all into your . Having your own show was great, it’s time to step it up. These people at your rallies are . Maybe you can even . This is all leverage.

Step 2: Win the presidency!? ! This is amazing. You now have that ultimate, highest profile, ultra visible position for your empire of name-driven businesses! Perfect. I guess scrap the TV network thing…

Step 3: Well, you’re not just some former executive, . You’re not a politician first like — — the Clintons. No, this is YOUR business. TRUMP. It’s your baby, everything you’ve got, and now in it, too. Sure, your businesses will stand to benefit from being president, but the really smart thing to do would be to leverage this influence to get cozy with every ultra high profile person. How cool would that be? Don’t you ? Time to cash in. are you giving any of this up. Celebrities, CEOs, Presidents, your influence is limitless. It’s the ultimate business coup. You can call up literally anyone, and they will not only respond, but they’ll probably be desperate to make a good impression with you. Heck, you haven’t even had to try, .

Step 4: Think carefully. Every cabinet position represents a chance for you to build a one-of-a-kind, deep relationship with somebody incredibly important — one that can give you tremendous business influence at home and abroad. As long as they have even a remote shot of doing the job, this is your chance to curry some major influence long-term. It can take your businesses to the next level. See who’s interested. Go ahead and , maybe throw ’em off the scent . Heck, for some of the irrelevant things — like the environment — pick an . But when you choose the positions relevant to big business, here and abroad, choose wisely. These are great opportunities for you and your kids. Let’s see…

Secretary of State: this is your chance to snag some big-time global influence. Try for the .
Treasury Secretary: you’d have the banks in your back pocket if you put in one of their guys (and, ). Go for the gusto: tap the . (People picking on them for ? SAD!)
FCC: the next best, most powerful industry to banks? The Telecom industry. What if you could sneak in a guy that would really help ’em out?
Education: the daughter in the DeVos is big on that stuff. And their son is behind Blackwater, too. .
Labour: the hospitality industry is central to your empire. How about the ?
Commerce: this is a chance to . The one you have in mind is worth $2.5B, and he’s an expert at turning around struggling businesses. Useful! Too bad you only have one of these slots. Create some advisory roles to maximize the opportunity. to the one and only Carl Icahn (some call him a “vulture capitalist”, but, as you know, .)
Energy (EPA): it was a good start with Rex from Exxon, but just in case, you should bring on a .
Small Business: get some entertainment folks involved —like the (World Wrestling Entertainment)
Chief Strategist: keep it rolling that has your most ardent, radical supporters in the palm of his hand.

.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters, via Quartz

People don’t suspect a thing. They’re still stuck on your . In the meantime, you’ve already successfully set up a meeting with Tim Cook, Sheryl Sandberg, Larry Page, Satya Nadella, and Elon Musk.

They say you’re like a playground bully — but look at you now! You’re in the teacher’s lounge with all the teachers and parents desperate for your approval.

Donald and Hobbes, via imgur

Now stop pretending you’re Donald Trump, because you’re not. One is enough.

Think of this from the perspective of a business-driven individual in politics. We have a name for people like that: lobbyists. Their aim is to sway political decisions and appointments to the benefit of the businesses they represent. Thus, in the U.S., the ultimate coup would be for a lobbyist to gain the highest seat of power — the Presidency — and make all decisions with their business in mind.

Trump is unlike any president in the history of the United States in terms of the ongoing, forward-leaning, direct relationship he has with his businesses. He is not benefitting generally and after-the-fact — he is benefitting in a very direct, visible, calculated way. Trump is not a lobbyist, but he may as well be.

He represents the self-styled Trojan Horse in the White House for Corporate America.

Trump is draining the swamp and turning it into a luxury mall.

You can guess the mall’s name.

for The New Yorker

Related recommended reading:

I don’t go into it above, but it’s important to note that this kind of relentlessly self-serving approach leads to much bigger problems — e.g. the runaway consolidation of power — when coming from an insecure narcissist surrounded by radical yes-men. For example:

Summarized hyperlink notes:

Rethinking the attention economy and wonder wandering.