Note To Self – 2016 ElectionPosted: November 10, 2016
I definitely want to post this note to myself, in time capsule form, so I can look back in 4 or 8 years and see what I thought was about to happen.
More importantly than the election itself, there was a game between the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks the previous monday night (Nov 7, 2016). There were plenty of iffy calls as usual, and one exciting one in particular at the end of the first half. This call involved Richard Sherman disrupting a field goal attempt. In the process of trying to block the kick, he’s clearly off sides, and ultimate touches the ball and bumps into the kicker. At full speed, the outcome seems obvious, and the Bills of course are looking for a roughing the kicker call, which never comes. Perplexed, the chorus of “cheater”, “dirty player”, “stupid refs” goes up in the twitter verse. The kicker’s wife tweets something dumb, twitter verse errupts with “racism” calls, and things are just out of control.
In hindsight, and review by calmer heads, it turns out that the rules are such that if the refs don’t blow a whistle, then what Richard Sherman did is perfectly legal, even if appearing abhorant. But, the headlines are all “Richard Sherman, dirty player, roughing the kicker non-call, the Bills could have been closer and possibly won the game in the 4th quarter”. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Next day, roll forward to the US election. Trump has been on a tare for months, saying all manner of rough and unpleasant things. We’re all in shock and the revelations coming forward almost daily. Democrates are salivating, not believing their luck in running against such a poor candidate. Could not dream of a more unfit person to run against. And yet, Hillary Clinton can’t quite seem to rise above him very far in the poles. Certainly not the landslide inducing lead you would expect to have against such a poor candidate. The only problem is, as poor as Trump was, Clinton appeared to be an even poorer choice.
History books will be full of analysis of why Clinton lost. For me, it was a fairly simple formula. She simply did not motivate the electorate to vote for her. In an election where populist sentiment was on display, the constant non-stop country crossing of Trump, the constant Trump in the media, was just too much for the calm cerebral policy wonk speech making of the Clinton candidacy. Just like the non-call in the Seahawks game. The Trump supporters were like the instant tweeted response calling for dramatic change immediately. The Clinton campaign was like the non-call, they were perhaps right, but they didn’t capture the emotion of the moment. In the election, the emotion of the moment won out, and Trump was elected, while the cool calm and collected stayed home, or voted for someone else in protest.
Whither now? My brother and I though Trump would win over the summer because of the way he captured the Republican party. Just a simple recognition that he came out of the blue, and ran a campaign that the established political systems had no idea how to deal with. They followed their traditional formulas, whereas Trump followed his reality TV success formula. So, what happens next?
Counter to what the non-trump supporters might believe, this guy is pretty smart, regardless of all the commentary. He is astute enough to know how to rile a crowd and get popular support. In his first hundred days, or so, I’d expect he will do lightning strikes with executive orders. He will try to reverse as much Obama driven stuff as possible. This will play to his base. In particular, he’ll go after stuff that has no real consequence, but plays well to the cheering masses. Certainly anything related to immigration, perhaps go after a few key flag burning cases, put some investment into border security. Roll back various rules and regulations where he can, so show that he’s getting government out of our hair. Rudy Giuliani will become that supreme court nominee. He could be secretary of state, but I think he would rather stay at home, and get his hands into shaping generations to come from the calm comforts of the bench.
Then, he’ll settle down and have to deal with things like the middle east, a resurgent Russia, and a China which will certainly probe and push hard.
On immigration, I’d expect that he’ll pretty much do what Obama has been doing, which is exporting as many un-documented people as is feasible. Obama has already been doing that in record numbers, so ultimately, Trump will just continue, but will make a better show of it, actually being at the border as the buses roll up and showing the ‘adios’ as people are shown the way home.
Foreign policy, he’ll become buddy buddy with Putin. Putin will say “Look Donald, can I call you Donald? You don’t really care about Ukraine do you? How about you look the other way while I just sort of annex the whole thing, and I’ll pull out of Seria?” Trump will think, ‘yah, that sounds good, there’s no oil in the Ukraine that I care about, and I could get a win for bringing peace to the middle east, sounds like a good deal’, and that will be that.
The Phillipines might be interesting. He’ll support strong man Duterte, and say “Look here, my daughter runs my businesses you know, I have nothing to do with those right now. I hear she wants to build a beautiful resort in the phillipines, I don’t know. I don’t know who the shareholders would be, but they’ll probably make a lot of money you know. Probably well connected people in the Phillipines, I don’t know. I do know I need to keep bases open there though. What do you say friend?”
Looking at Nafta, ripped up and re-negotiated? Hmmm, we’ll see on that one. Mexico, US, Canada are a fairly strong trading block. The US leverages Mexican workers on this side of the border to keep our various goods and services inexpensive. We leverage workers and factories on the other side of the border for the same reason. Large US businesses already benefit from things staying the way they are. This is a play for the smaller companies in the US who are not competing on the global scale. They need more protections from foreign competition (primarily Chinese goods dumping), but realistically, they simply don’t have the products at a competitive price to compete. Short of reducing our wages to the levels seen in those foreign countries, we’re in a tough spot. We could see some token gestures, but ultimately it comes down to having a competitive workforce in a global economy. We need to go upscale, providing services that low wages won’t get. And that’s the crux of a generational transformation for the American workforce.
I doubt nafta will be ‘torn up’. The Transpacific one though, that might stall, at least until it gets negotiated in a way that will favor a post white house Trump more favorably that it might currently.
Jobs creation? Bringing those American companies back home? That’s also a toughy. Those ostensibly “American” companies are international conglomerates. Not likely to ‘repatriate’ the hundreds of billions of dollars they hold in various other countries, just to be taxed. They’re very good at keeping that money moving, and out of the hands of tax hungry countries. Trump knows the tax codes, and could maneuver, but again, post white house trump likely loves things to stay the way they are.
And on and on it goes. I expect there to be a lot more attention on the white house. I expect Trump to be very popular initially. I expect him to put on a good enough show, and there to not be any viable candidates to oppose him, over the next 4 years. I expect him to get reelected. I also expect him to feel the weight of the office. I expect the flourish he shows in the first year or two to diminish somewhat by the end of his first term. I expect the world to continue to be a dangerous angry place as world power is rapidly shifting. I expect the disillusioned to wake up after the end of it all and realize they’re no better off than when Obama, or Bush, or Clinton, or Bush were in office.
This is a generational inflection point. This is what change looks like. It’s going to be a fantastic and scary ride, and we’ll end up on a different place, on a slightly different path than we’ve been on lately.
And what else? SpaceX, Tesla, Musk will continue to be in the news. Azure will continue to grow, water will continue to be an issue in the middle east, the temperature will continue to rise, diapers will continue to need changing. I will continue to type out musings.