This post is not about President-elect Trump but it was in part inspired by him, and by the next most recent Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney. This post is about businessmen as Presidents.
There have been only seven presidents who came from the world of business. In chronological order, they were
- Warren Harding (Republican, President 1921-23)
- Calvin Coolidge (Republican, 1923-29)
- Herbert Hoover (Republican, 1929-33)
- Harry Truman (Democrat, 1945-53)
- Jimmy Carter (Democrat, 1977-81)
- George H W Bush (Republican, 1989-93)
- George W Bush (Republican, 2001-09)
Most of these businessmen-Presidents had some serious public service careers before they became President.
- Harding had spent 2 years as the Lt. Governor of Ohio and 6 years as Senator from Ohio.
- Coolidge had been a Mayor, a state Senator, a Lt. Governor, a Governor and a Vice-President (in all, 13 years) before becoming President.
- Hoover spent 7 years as our Secretary of Commerce.
- Truman had been the Presiding Judge of Jackson County, Missouri for 8 years, U S Senator for 10 years, and Vice President for a few months before ascending to the Presidency.
- Jimmy Carter had been a state Senator for 4 years and a Governor for 4 years before running for the Presidency.
- George H W Bush was a Congressman for 4 years, Ambassador to the UN for 2 years, Director of the CIA for 1 year, and Vice President for 8 years.
- George W Bush had been Governor of Texas for 5 years before taking on the mantle of the Presidency.
Donald Trump is the first businessman elevated to the Presidency with no public service on his résumé whatever. The others with the least public service were George W Bush with 5 years, Hoover with 7 years, and Harding and Carter with 8 years each.
There is an absolutely fascinating Wikipedia entry entitled Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States. These are “scholar surveys,” not the results of popular polls (which are included in the wiki article). Become familiar with it. They rank (the aggregate ranking) these businessmen-Presidents thus (out of 44 Presidents): Harding 42, Coolidge 30, Hoover 32, Truman 6, Carter 27, Bush Sr 22, and Bush Jr 34. With the single exception of Harry Truman, Presidents with business backgrounds do not fare well as President when ranked by professional historians.
What can we make of all this? We can wish Donald Trump well in his tenure as President of these United States.