But Obama and his fellow travelers on the Left routinely display a really appalling ignorance of all aspects of entrepreneurship and commerce. They believe that the public’s demands don’t determine what businesses produce. In their view, business (especially clever marketing, which Leftists equate with deceit) creates public demand, and consumers are not shrewd – or at least rationally self-interested – people who are capable of deciding what they want and what they don’t; they are mindless cattle to be manipulated.
This same ignorance has spilled over to the President’s and the Pravda press’ assessment of the elections. And so it should not surprise anyone when Obama’s response to the voter backlash is to claim that he just didn’t market his policies well enough, or when writers at the Huffington Post shriek that voters are ignorant, stupid, or ill-informed.
Those who voted against Obamacare, against Keynesian spending orgies, against Congressional malpractice and deceit, against skyrocketing deficits, and above all against the sneering condescension displayed by our elected officials knew exactly what they were being sold and they rejected it out of hand. To use a tired but true venture capital expression, “the dogs won’t eat the dog food.”
If Obama had any experience developing a product, cultivating a customer base, or competing for market share, he would already know this. In the “real world,” where a businessman has to persuade potential customers to part with their hard-earned money in exchange for what he’s peddling, arrogance is fatal; an entrepreneur who thinks he is smarter than his customers won’t be in business long. But in government, where your money is extracted from you by threats of imprisonment, fines, or force, where not only is there no return on your money, but even the worst failed policy initiative riddled with waste produces calls for more money, and where taxpayer demands for accountability are castigated as “greed,” “racism,” and “temper tantrums,” deeply held convictions in discredited theories are the ideologue’s substitute for a business plan.
Perhaps the President thought his ideas were “too big to fail.” In public office, as in the private sector, reality has shown otherwise.
Laura Hollis is an Associate Professional Specialist and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches entrepreneurship and business law. She is the author of the forthcoming publication, “Start Up, Screw Up, Scale Up: What Government Can Learn From the Best Entrepreneurs,” © 2014. Her opinions are her own, and do not reflect the position of the university. Follow her on Twitter: @LauraHollis61.