I’m posting some quick, first-impression reactions to the stunning news that Donald Trump has been elected president.
I’ll begin with my reactions as a social scientist
1) The predictive power of academic political science and pollsters is now as discredited as that of macro-economics. I suspect that political scientists will engage in the same sort of forensic investigation of their collective failure at prediction that academic economists did after 2008. I strongly suspect that commercial pollsters will NOT do the same.
2) Social scientists will continue to debate whether support for Trump was driven by economics (losses due to globalization) versus race. The evidence is still murky, despite what Ezra Klein might say.
My reaction to Trump’s victory as a PhD in history is to think of all of the cases of events that seem very significant at the time turning out to be far less significant than earlier imagined. Many Americans are discussing Trump’s election in catastrophic terms– the end of the United States, etc. My reading of history suggests that people often over-react to electoral disappointment. We have been told by both sides that this is the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes or even since 1860. We will be able to judge the accuracy of this assessment in a couple of decades.
My reactions to the election as a business historian are as follows
1) This teachable moment is a wonderful opportunity for business historians to demonstrate the value of their skills to policymakers, firms, and other knowledge users. It remains to be seen whether they take advantage of this potential opportunity. Generally speaking, the business historical community failed to take advantage of the potential demand for their services after 2008– one or two business historians were able to use the crisis to increase the impact of their research (kudos to Stephen Mihm and his wonderful Bloomberg column) but for the most part business historians were unable or unwilling to take advantage of this opportunity.
2) If a Trump presidency does result in accelerated de-globalization, historians of the international business, particularly those who do research on political risk and managerial responses to earlier eras of deglobalization may be able to provide advice to MNEs, particularly non-American ones. There will be demand for good narrative histories of deglobalization in the tradition of Charles Kindleberger.
3) It is impossible to understand the rise of Donald Trump without thinking about race and globalization. A toxic cocktail of protectionism and anti-migrant xenophobia pushed him into the most powerful job in the world. Business historians and historians of capitalism need to do more to understand the long-term roots of this phenomenon.
My reactions to Trump victory as a citizen of the UK is to wonder about whether this perceived sudden change in the geopolitical system will discourage the UK government from taking its leap into the dark (Brexit). Given that Trump has attacked the core principles of NATO, perhaps European army dreamt of by Eurofederalists might not be such a bad idea after all.
My reaction to the Trump victory as a citizen of Canada is to ask whether Prime Minister Trudeau is equal to the task of dealing with the risk and opportunities this election may create. The fear many educated Americans have of Trump may create an opportunity for Canada to increase its supply of human capital. However, the fact that the Canadian immigration website crashed on the morning of the election does not suggest that the Canadian government has the administrative capacity to fully exploit this potentially wonderful opportunity.
I’m sharing the campaign video that Trump broadcast in the final day of his campaign.