Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Controlling the Genie

The American Presidential Election is over and everyone is stunned with the victory of Mr. Donald Trump. Everyone I know, with the exception of the boss in the liquidations job (he predicts Mr. Trump will be very good for business) and friends and family from what I call the ‘crazy right’ (I won’t equate their views with Christianity), was stunned and nauseated.

Despite having a history of managerial incompetence, disdain for the working man, Donald Trump’s campaign based on racism and sexism proved to be shockingly effective. People came out to vote for him and despite a few high-profile cases, very few people actually came out to vote for him.
Unfortunately, Mr. Trump is merely the most successful of a brand of politicians who have played up to the worst in people. One just has to think of Marine Le Penn in France or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands or Viktor Orban in Hungry who have campaigned against immigration and the bashing of people of another colour. While these politicians were frightening, non-of them will wield anything like the influence that Mr. Trump will now have.

The optimists amongst my associates have told me that Mr. Trump was merely playing up to his electorate and once in the Presidency, the American system of checks and balances Unfortunately, not only does Mr. Trump have the White House, the Republican Party controls both houses of Congress (admittedly, he doesn’t get along with most of Congress). They’ve also pointed out that Mr. Trump will probably be constrained by advisors who will tell him what’s what.

There are some signs of optimism. Mr. Trump’s speech was somewhat magnanimous when he promised to be a President for “all Americans.” A PR Chinese Official who was interviewed the night before on Singapore TV said of Mr. Trump, “He is a second rate, lousy businessman – but businessman all the same, so he should be pragmatic.” Well, let’s hope Mr. Trump does try and be pragmatic.

Unfortunately, the personality displayed by Mr. Trump on the campaign have shown that his ability to be pragmatic often take second place to insults to his ego and more importantly, Mr. Trump may have unleashed an emotion in the public that he will find hard to control – Anger.

Mr. Trump was very successful at appealing to an emotion that a certain group of people felt. Older, less educated White people, who felt alienated by the forces of globalization, immigration and technological change. Look at where Mr. Trump won, it was in the States that were predominantly older and depressed. Mrs. Clinton took the entire West and East Coast as well as Illinois, the home of Chicago, a large trading city.

The so called “silent” majority who voted for Mr. Trump will now expect him to deliver. While they will forgive certain promises being broken, they will expect him to provide some semblance of what he promised – namely an ideal world where simple jobs are available and you don’t have to deal with too many people who look different from you.

This is a promise that Mr. Trump will not be able to keep. America has been the centre of the forces that have made the world on the whole, a better place.

Globalisation and open borders have brought problems but on the whole, they’ve helped spur prosperity and innovation. So, the question is, how much of the door will Mr. Trump’s followers expect him to shut and when the consequences of shutting the doors come in, will they not turn on Mr. Trump.

It’s an issue Mr. Trump will now have to deal with and the rest of us will have to find a way of living with it as he struggles to balance the forces he’s unleashed. 

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