Congratulations! You just won the election (or took power by force) and you are now the president of your country. You always knew how terrible your predecessor was and you are happy to finally take over and make some changes, hopefully for the best. After you attend a party or two, you finally get to work. Winning the election is hard, running the country is easy. As the president, all you have to do is issue a command. You are the president after all, right?
Your election campaign was hard. While you ran TV ads telling people that you want to fight illegal drugs, your competitor was criticizing your choices, pointing out how there are more important issues to consider. Your quest to protect the country with a better prepared military was met by the opposition as an irresponsible project to waste taxpayers' money. Your idea to cut government spending in order to reduce taxes was discussed by others as a job destroying machine.
Your ideas might have been good, but you won the election with a 55% vote and a 60% approval rating. Think you can do better? Everyone does, but these numbers reflect was an average election outcome looks like.
Now that you are at work, you finally want to do what you promised. You want to start with the most important issue you selected during your campaign - fight with illegal drugs. Your plan is simple - increase funding of the drug enforcement agency and implement a program to catch drugs in airports as they enter the country. You start by issuing an executive order but then your chief of staff throws it in the trashcan. You can't do that. Budgets are authorized by legislature. You have to ask them nicely. There are 100 legislators. You have to lobby each one of them.
Sigh... It can't be this hard. Can it?
You don't have the time to do this, so you ask your staff to meet with legislators, while you tackle the next issue - increase your military's preparedness. You call your defense minister for a chat. The task is simple. The military uses outdated equipment and staff doesn't spend enough time training, so they are not effective in the field. The solution seems to be straightforward - buy new equipment and send soldiers to training. Your defense minister comes in the door with some generals and wants to start the meeting with a briefing: intelligence believes that a terrorist group wants to setup explosives somewhere in a busy shopping mall. If you do nothing, 300 people may die. You spend the next few hours discussion options. You don't know which mall they are attacking. If you evacuate every single mall, this will create panic among people, your advisor tells you. Shopping malls will lose one billion dollars worth of revenue, the stock market will crash as people learn of a possible attack, small businesses will be hurt, retail employees who are already poor will not make enough money to pay for the food on the table that day, unions will protest that you are irresponsible, your opposition in legislature will say that you are destroying small business and are disorganized and media will run a story that you destroy the economy of your country on the first day in office.
As you continue the conversation and discuss your options, you finally give up on talking about the issue of the day, as this one seems more important. Your advisor suggests to do nothing. If an explosion occures and people die, general public will blame terrorists, not you. But your other advisor disagrees. Public expects you to protect them and your opposition will use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that you are not ready to serve the people.
You finally make a call to evacuate. Your advisor tells you that they don't know how to do this logistically. It will take days to communicate this to the world. You decide to make a big announcement and ask the media to run a story on national TV asking everyone to pass the word. Malls must be evacuated! Lives must be saved! Going into this you already knew about all the criticism you would hear. But your competitors are more creative than Walt Disney. They appear on TV and announce that only the most incompetent president could close the country for business on his first day in office. Evidently you are now taking away personal freedom and violating constitution by not letting people do what they want. Store owners go on TV complaining that they weren't consulted about the evacuation. Regular people cry that they didn't vote for you or they didn't expect you to make poor decisions. The stock market halts trading after losing ten billion dollars in value.
Your day is only beginning!
As you look at the TV screen in disbelief, your assistant tells you that the ambassador from another country is there to meet you and discuss global warming. She warns you that you only have 15 minutes to talk, as the "teacher of the year" just arrived for a ceremony where you have to present an award. Thankfully this ceremony will be no more than five minutes, after which you have to meet with your cabinet to discuss the agenda for the next three months.
Do you need a vacation yet?
As you are presenting a "teacher of the year" award, your mind is in a different place. Were the people evacuated? Did police figure out which mall was targeted? You stop thinking about other issues. They are less important. Your thoughts are interrupted by your assistant, who tells you that you need to speak with your press secretary immediately. "Media wants to hear from you, " he says, "They are asking how you are going to protect the country." You look at your speech writer. This speech is not ready. But the media is already sitting there, waiting for you. You better talk. As you are walking to the press room, your assistant tells you that the media just ran a story that the president is hiding, as you didn't go out with an immediate statement. They sent the message to the people that the president doesn't care. Someone called out your inaction and labeled it as the honeymoon.
As you talk to the media, one reporter asks why you campaigned on the issue of a better prepared military but the military is not protecting the country. You politely explain that it's your first day and you still have work to do, but the media spins it as the president giving excuses for his incompetence and calls on your opposition to comment. Your opposition, claiming to be experts in national security, proudly pour dirt on your head by listing other things you promised that you probably won't deliver on.
Your first day was pretty eventful and you think everything will get resolved the next day. But the next day is not any different than the first day. Every day you receive a briefing. In most cases you can't share anything with general public. You let the military solve issues without anyone knowing. You run another set of "teach of the year" type meetings, meet with ambassadors, receive a phone call from legislature asking if they can talk to you about raising taxes, and get your personal advisor to ask you pardon his uncle, who is spending 10 years in jail.
You do this the next day and the day after. The story keeps on repeating. Eventually you hear back about your illegal drug fighting pitch to legislature. A quarter of them oppose you simply because you are from a different party. Another quarter says they won't support an anti-business president who closed all shopping malls in the country on his first day in office. Your close allies use your ask as a leverage to get something else they want - increase funding for arts and sciences, bringing government jobs to cities they represent, and agree that you won't cut taxes for at least 4 years.
Over the next few months, you slowly start to find the time to introduce your issues, but every single one of them gets challenges by legislature. Every one of them is colorfully spun off as something else by the media. Your opposition starts a rumor that you eat little kids as a hobby, that you don't qualify to be the president as you were really born in Nepal, and that you are sexist, racist and homophobic, since you haven't appointed a single lesbian minority to your cabinet. As you fight with legislators over your agenda, your approval rating falls below 30%. A random woman shows up on national TV making a claim that you solicited sex from a prostitute and she witnessed it. As you deny this obviously made up story, someone in legislature proposes to start the impeachment hearing. After all, you violated people's trust since you lied about your relationship with a sex worker. And since you haven't cut taxes in the first few months in office, you are now obviously a communist and should be put under arrest.
Remember how you ran for office and you promised your own agenda because you saw obvious flaws and thought you could fix them? Well, now is the time to run for re-election and your opposition is doing exactly what you did. Because of the legislature and the court system, you haven't been able to achieve even half of what you promised. That's the story you used to run for office. That's the story they are using right now.
Does this scenario sound rediculous?
Are you sure it's far from the truth?