November 9th, 2016

Today, November 11, who won is the American people and the American Spirit. Maybe the most important consideration of this campaign – much talked about, yet little thought put into it – the American spirit and identity of the people of the United States. We have heard for months on end about just a part of identity – divisive, simple minded, ethnic minorities-based rhetoric, to the point some people crashed Canada’s immigration website out of fear and desperation. But it is not these superficial ideas about identity and spirit that have won, but those that generation upon generation of immigrants to the United States have had to learn about and carried in their hearts when moving to this country: a place for all who chose to feel and be American; a place where country and ideals are more important than individuals and differences of opinion; a place where government, economics, and politics serve the people.

Whether leaning liberal or conservative, whether highly educated or less educated, whether preferring a $10 Venti (extra pumps) or your home roast $2 coffee, the American people have shown that, while they want to move in a different direction for the future of the US, they care first and foremost about changing the way the country is run and the way politicians are held accountable. While the “American dream” will be much talked about over the coming months, today’s results are much more than about the economy, but about that American spirit.

The economic downturn everyone has been talking about is a hype, just like speculative trading – a practice most Americans do not have at heart. It has little to do with whomever is elected president (elections are different from policy), and more to do with speculations and doom mongers. Paul Krugman wrote a piece for the NY Times in which he practically divests a whole group of economists and business people from any responsibility related to the future of the economy, placing it solely on the shoulders of POTUS. This manner of thinking shaved off up to 30% of stocks the morning of Brexit, and already several percentage points off of almost all international indexes today only in the pre-trading sessions. However, we have started seeing markets bouncing back while Donald Trump was giving his victory speech. By any measure, this smacks of non-reasoned speculation.

Any of the economic arguments, if framed differently, can be turned into great assets for the country. The great Liberal and Free Trade world order to which the US should be the centrepiece, is just an ideological construct. It makes sense to want to trade across the globe. It makes little sense to keep supporting it when you’re the only one pushing for it, with Europeans not being really keen on it (see protectionist practices), and everybody around the world hitting you hard with major infowars and psyops because of it. Whom will the Islamists and Russians blame for the state of the world if the US changes course? They will have a tough time turning the world into US haters.

The only thing we need to care about for now, as Donald Trumps is still two months away from taking office, is not to crash the markets, and to prevent any fire sale similar to what we’ve seen with Brexit. Because there will be no way to explain, for voters on both sides, how we managed to crash the economy while president Obama is still in office. We should assume that liberals still want the Democratic Party to survive the next four years; hence, not slashing and burning everything in the economy seems to be a good idea.

The US is not in a bad place right now. A slight depreciation of the dollar can be turned into being more competitive globally, while the Eurozone would bear the brunt of the global economic adjustments. Which just may have people in the EU want to have a second look at the TTIP. At the same time, we have seen a drop in the price of oil – again, not affecting the US that much. Yet definitely affecting all those economies around the world living off of petrodollars – this does increase the relative upper hand of the US in relation to those countries.

The GOP’s and Donald Trump’s only real issue now is not to disappoint. With such a huge, unexpected win – Presidency, House, and Senate – they have the opportunity to affect major change in an unprecedented way. In such challenging times, both internally and internationally, this could be a rebirth moment for the GOP, one that the people supported in the party’s favourite reading – the more traditional values of the founding of the United States. This should not be turned (again) into squabbles about LGBTQ rights, or “PC immigration quotas”.

This should be first and foremost about opportunity and safety. Safety at home, not being shot in the street, countering violent extremism, and adopting a more conservative approach to finance. And as important, the American people have voted overwhelmingly for opportunity – they want to have that space in which opportunity, innovation, creativity can again be nurtured without having to stave off big interests. Because America should have enough room for both MNCs, as well as the little guy.

In a sense, Donald Trump’s victory is much like derivative financial products – could bring great risks, but also bring great opportunities. Though it may bring great sorrow, it will certainly strengthen the American people, who have seen that having a popular president does not necessarily lead to respect abroad, or to a strong country at home.

Either way, America, and the American Spirit win again. The idea that anyone can make it in the US had been lost sometime over the past decade or so, an idea that had shone like a beacon for millions at home and abroad.

There are two scenarios that can explain today’s victory, and either one shows that Americans need that America back. The first one would be a scenario in which minorities overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton. This would mean that the rest of the country voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. If we say much of the minority vote was supposed to be driven by fear of potential Trump policies – thus making them vote Hillary – we still see a majority of the country seeking to gain back that America that they once knew. A Second scenario would be one in which a relevant part of the Democratic electorate in the US decided to back Trump anyway, while some on the GOP side decided to vote Clinton. The significance of this second scenario too is that people, on both sides of the aisle, preferred a more stable and self-confident America than jumping into the unknown of (perceived) ultra-liberalization and globalization.

In either case, more voters voted today to keep alive the American spirit and an American promise as they grew up knowing, rather than changing the character of the country they care for. In other terms, America won a confidence vote that it is the people, those that are already citizens and those coming in, that have to change, to adopt and embrace American values, beliefs, and ways of life, rather than changing the nation to fit the needs of a few. This is the Great American Way.

The 2017 edition of the Strategikon Annual Book – The Year of Challenging Choices

The 2017 edition of the Strategikon Annual Book – The Year of Challenging Choices

It’s not easy to be a leader, but the solution is closer than people may think and it has to do with returning to some good old fashioned traits that shaped leaders in past decades: will power, values and vision. Launched at the Good Governance Summit, The Year of Challenging Choices strives to understand the fault lines in international relations and the relevant actors, as they are and not how they appear to be.

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