Trump, Brexit, and the Future?

  • 11/15/2016 12:00:00 PM
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So the temptation this week is to write “America – what have you done?!,” but while taking some time to reflect upon this news, it`s quite clear what has been done. If fact, we have done exactly the same thing in the UK this past June.

This is a blog post from Rycal Group’s Neil Willis.

During both the Brexit vote and the U.S. election, one side has campaigned for the establishment and one side has campaigned for change. In both cases if you voted for the establishment, you more or less knew what you were getting. A vote for change is truly a step into the unknown.

Both events have also been very largely about national identity and self-interest. In the case of Brexit, it was a question of do we want to be governed by a central European institution that represents the very different interests of all member states, or do we want to move the balance of power back to the UK government in Westminster? In the case of the U.S. election, the primary line for change came down to “Make America Great Again.”

The results of both votes clearly show that the deciding side of the voting population want change from the current political establishment. In fact, I suspect that even larger figures would vote for change, given that I believe many that voted for the status quo did so out of fear and resistance to change rather than approval for the current system.

It also shows that the established political elite are wildly out of touch with the electorate that they claim to represent. In the UK, the biggest frustration is that the government has put us into this position without any clear idea of what happens after the “Out” vote. In the U.S., the Democratic party could not have found a candidate that was any more clearly associated with the established political elite. They had a clear choice to field their own democratic candidate that represented change in Bernie Sanders, and they cast him aside.

Time for a confession – I voted for “Out” in the UK. Why? Not because I am anti-immigration or anti-free movement, but because I still think that individual countries should manage and represent their own interests. I don`t want to be part of a Federal States of Europe. I love the diversity of individual countries and cultures, and with the ongoing march of globalization this becomes ever more watered down.

An example of this is in the news this week, as McDonalds is suing the city of Florence for 18M euros because the city has declined to allow one of the fast-food chain restaurants in one of their historic Plazas. In some bizarre way, this seems extremely relevant to both of the recent votes. Surely Florence should be allowed to decide to say no to a fast food chain “spoiling” the atmosphere of the historic city without fear of being sued?

So, what does the future bring for President-elect Donald J. Trump? The answer to this is the same as to the question of what the UK looks like post-Brexit - that no one knows because both campaigns offered the prospect of change without offering defined solutions.

What we do know is that historically American President Elects have a good track record of introducing the main policies they were elected on. President Obama managed to introduce 70% of his own campaign promises. Given that Trump campaigned on The Wall, immigrant deportation, tax reforms, restricting trade for American jobs, and standing for forgotten Americans, it seems certain that major changes are on the horizon.

After a barely believable campaign where Trump blamed failures on everyone but himself, he now has nowhere to hide. Republicans will control all aspects of American politics, so he will have no excuses for not carrying out his proposed changes.

What does this result mean for everyday Americans, and indeed the rest of the World? Who knows.
As the traditional Chinese curse says – “May you live in interesting times!”

Neil Willis