Analyzing the Trump Presidential Transition through the Lens of Shakespeare’s Henry IV
Through "action learning" or edu-tainment, Movers and Shakespeares promotes team building and executive development for today's leaders through yesterday's wisdom. Scenes from Shakespeare help modern execs overcome daunting obstacles, motivate their teams, set high ethical standards, and build consensus.
And even help brace those involved in a Presidential transition and Inauguration, as is happening this week.
In a great drama on leadership, a young Prince has been drinking and cavorting with an older fun-loving Falstaff. When learning that his team has won, that the Prince is becoming King, Falstaff presumes he too will take power ― like thousands of Republican stalwarts presumed after Trump's win.
Power corrupts. Even the anticipation of power corrupts judgment.
Falstaff promises buddies jobs in the new Administration. "Choose what office thou wilt in the land. 'Tis thine." The prospect of power makes him delirious. "O joyful day!" He wouldn't trade anything "for my fortune... I am Fortune’s steward."
Even during the Transition, he's throwing his weight around: "Let us take any man’s horses. The laws of England are at my commandment!" He will help buddies and punish enemies. "Blessed are they that have been my friends, and woe to my" adversaries. "Welcome these pleasant days!"
Nothing goes according to plan.
When Falstaff comes to his former tavern pal, the new King denounces both him and his former life. "I know thee not, old man," the just-crowned King Henry IV says. "Presume not that I am the thing I was."
Had the three most vocal and persistent Trump-backers ― Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Chris Christie ― taken time to "brush up their Shakespeare," they might have realized that even if their team wins, it may not be "O joyful day" for them.
Presidential transitions ― and I've participated in three of them (though not this one) ― can lead to more heartbreak than elation. All of which reminds us of what Shakespeare deemed needed no reminding ― namely that politics is not for the faint-hearted.
And that we can learn a lot about today's predicaments through the great stories and insights of William Shakespeare.