The story of the 2016 election centers around the unconventional, unprecedented rise of Donald J. Trump. Last night, with no elected office experience, a grab-bag of policy ideas that reflected neither party’s establishment, and a complete disregard for political correctness, Donald Trump attracted some 59 million votes and was named president-elect of the United States of America.
This has left many on the left in a state of panic and disillusionment. They feel that the election of Donald Trump marks the end of tolerance, diversity, and progressive ideals in America. On top of that, with the republicans winning both houses congress and multiple Supreme Court nominations in the balance, they feel that this might also mark the end of Democratic Party influence in government. This is probably an overreaction.
How we got here
Ask a Trump supporter what motivated them in their decision and they will overwhelming say anger with the current system. Many are older, white, non-college-educated men who, like with Brexit, felt left behind by the benefits of globalization and modern technology. This problem had been festering for years and they felt that the deadlock in government wasn’t equipped to deal with the issues that a rapidly changing world brings.
Donald Trump could have just ran on the slogan “End the Status Quo” and he would have probably won no matter how many disqualifying things he said. The level of anger with the government is just that high. The same anger is apparent in populist uprisings around the world, from the Brexit vote to the election of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines.
It would be easy to dismiss all of this as an emotional and illegitimate reaction to progress, but these problems are real and ignoring them leads to real consequences, which should be apparent to everyone today.
Where we go now
A system where both party’s primary goal is to deny the other party of any success may no longer be rewarded. A system that drags its feet on entitlement reform, healthcare reform, tax reform, and infrastructure spending may no longer be rewarded. A system that won’t be able to keep up with the complex and rapidly changing world may no longer be rewarded. The question now is will anyone get the memo.
And more importantly, which Donald Trump will we get? I think Peter Thiel got it right when he said:
The media is always taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally. I think a lot of voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally, so when they hear things like the Muslim comment or the wall comment, their question is not, ‘Are you going to build a wall like the Great Wall of China?’ or, you know, ‘How exactly are you going to enforce these tests?’ What they hear is we’re going to have a saner, more sensible immigration policy.
The argument that he didn’t really mean all those things might not be that comforting, but in his victory speech, Trump managed to say the right words – he wants to reunite the country after a divisive election. Everyone should wish him luck in that goal. Whether you were for or against Donald Trump, he is our president now and hopefully he will be a good one.
Last night, as the victory of Trump became apparent, the future markets tanked. After his restrained victory speech, the markets began to rally back. Elections have consequences, but anyone who tells you they know what they will be at this stage in the game is full of it.
Will Trump force Mexico to build a giant wall? Will Trump abandon Eastern Europe to Putin? Will Trump start a trade war with China? Will Trump tear up the Iran deal? Will Trump nuke everyone and let god sort them out?
I doubt it, but who knows.
Will we learn any lessons from this election other than the other-side is evil?