I woke up at 6 am EST to find my fellow Americans had elected Donald Trump pre… presi – presid- … Damn. It’s actually hard to say. Saying or writing “Drumpf” isn’t quite as funny as it once was.
I have many reactions and thoughts, starting with this:
I also have many personal thoughts about my family and business. I might blog about those, too. But for now, let me share some morning-after first reactions, before the data is in, with all the caveats that means. I’m going to hold back on emotions and get the analysis out there. Sometimes that’s how I process things.
- I call this “American Brexit” because of the many similarities: shocking polls, the revelation of previously understated divides, echoes of populism and nationalism.
- The long, long election deeply divided many Americans, who threw themselves into supporting candidates as heroes and also as symbols for major issues. I suspect we’ll be even more deeply torn now. Perhaps the next couple of years will see unrest at late 1960s levels, at least culturally, perhaps in terms of violence.
- An example, perhaps a taste of things to come “Demonstrators set fire to a likeness of Trump, smashed store front windows and set garbage and tires on fire in downtown Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco… One protester in Oakland was struck by a vehicle after blocking a highway, local media reported.” More, what happens to a militarized police culture with law and order man Trump as the chief executive?
- It looks like the Republicans took not only the White House but also both houses of Congress. Also, some state level gains. This gives the GOP a powerful opportunity to get things done. What should we expect? Expanded war against ISIS, beginning construction of the wall, deportations, a Scalia-like Supreme Court Justice, repeal the Affordable Care Act, anti-abortion bills, tax cuts: all possible.
- If the Dems lost the House *and* the Senate *and* the White House, this is one of the worst defeats that party has ever suffered. Therefore now begins a brutal struggle for the Democratic party, filled with recrimination.
- Some Democrats will view the defeat as caused by racism and sexism. Others will see it as the result of not taking the white working class seriously. This is the fault line that split Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the primaries; perhaps Dems will battle across that divide once more.
- On the economic side, cross-tabbed with region: the Rust Belt went for Trump in a big way. That’s a major shift. It’s one the Democrats have to think hard about, considering Scott Walker’s persistence, the gap between Democratic coastal stronghold and flyover country, trade deals, and the postindustrial economy.
- Another reading of the election is that a slim majority of Americans were dissatisfied or engaged, and wanted to revolt. We need to tell the story of how, on the one hand, the Democrats became the party of establishment and conservativism, and how, on the other, the GOP, led by an old billionaire, became the party of insurgency.
- What is the role of different age groups? For instance, did Millennials, disengaged since Bernie’s defeat, fail to turn out in droves; if so, what impact did that have? Did the majority of the senior vote break for Trump, along the lines of Bruce Sterling’s famous formulation of “old people afraid of the sky” and Brexit’s demographics?
- Were there actually hidden or silent Trump voters, missed by polling? If so, that tells us much about America in 2016.
- One of the primary arguments in favor of Clinton during the primaries was that she’d be a better opponent to Trump than Bernie Sanders would have been. Yeah.
- Did Clinton outspend Trump? If so, what does this tell us about campaign finance?
- Some will see the defeat, or the national divide, driven by educational differences. I’m honestly not sure what follows from this – increased K12 funding seems unlikely across the country. Growing post-secondary enrollment goes against current trends. Perhaps a boom in nonprofits and public education?
- TV conquered America. As I said earlier, for all the power of new media this was an election driven hugely by tv “news”. I’m not sure of the influence expressed by tv advertising; that did soak up a ton of money.
- That’s two political dynasties claimed by 2016, the Clintons and the Bushes.
- Another Brexit link: Obama’s campaigning for Remain and Clinton seems to have, at best, done nothing for those causes. At worst it backfired. This will do something to Obama’s reputation as he exits the White House, and has some implications for analysis. Why didn’t this popular president have a greater impact?
- Liberals and leftists will, after years of Charlie Hebdo etc., rediscover their fondness for satire.
- From a futures perspective, the massive forecasting failure is something we need to work through.
PS: with this post I’m starting to accumulate writing on politics. Should I keep doing this?