’Twas the Night Before Trump …
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
You’re a global citizen — and this is what your neighbors abroad have to say about an election upset that has implications around the world.
By OZY Editors
On the eve of the presidential inauguration, many around the world are waiting with bated breath and wondering: What will come of the next four years?
The last time the world watched America this closely, it was with hope, fear and amusement. On Friday, during a special series of Facebook Live feeds from around the U.S. and abroad, OZY reporters will be asking folks about their hopes, fears and predictions as an unprecedented era in American politics unfolds with global implications. Our team recently caught up with some prominent investors, thought leaders and rising stars in the arts around the world to share their thoughts (which are edited and condensed here) on soon-to-be President Donald Trump and his impact on multiple topics.
Business and Trade
“The only thing constant about Trump is that he’s full of surprises. There’s been a huge rally in the market after he [won]. He’s going to be very focused on being good for business, and it’s impossible to know what that’s going to mean, but I’m hopeful that will be good for everyone. I think that there’s a very positive, peaceful economic prosperity that comes from the trade that we have [between the U.S. and Canada], so I’m optimistic he won’t feel like that needs work. But who knows? This one is full of surprises.”
—Michele Romanow, Canadian entrepreneur, judge on the TV show Dragons’ Den and co-founder of Clearbanc
“There’s no point in trying to understand Trump on a daily basis and worrying about his latest tweet or what his opinion change might mean for your business. My recommendation is focus on your own business, [whether] that is as a company leader or a country leader. It could be a great boon for immigration for us [in Canada] — I have had a fair share of calls from friends inquiring. It could be a complete disaster for our manufacturing sector if NAFTA completely breaks down. It could go in both directions.”
—Boris Wertz, Vancouver-based founder of version one ventures, an early-stage investment firm
Democracy is not defined by one man; it’s bigger than that. Now, more than ever, we can’t be complacent.
“One of the main things that has captured the news here is the idea that Trump is in favor of a U.S.–U.K. free-trade agreement. Those who supported Brexit point to this as a sign that the U.K. will be able to make deals beyond the EU. However, I think his other ideas about NATO and his criticisms of Germany will have made people in Whitehall and the Foreign Office nervous.”
—Alan Convery, an Edinburgh-based lecturer in politics at the University of Edinburgh and deputy editor of the British Journal of Politics and International Relations
“When the president of one of the most powerful countries in the world focuses his entire campaign on building up borders, in every sense — global trade, security, immigration and energy — it’s hugely concerning, especially for a country [like] Canada that very much depends upon its cross-border relationship for economic growth and global competitiveness. While Canada is not without its challenges — it lags behind the U.S. in areas such as innovation and productivity — our reality here is different. It is founded on openness and inclusiveness. It is my hope that under the Trump administration, Canada will serve as a reminder of the benefits of openness and can leverage its unique strengths to promote common goals for global prosperity. Democracy is not defined by one man; it’s bigger than that. Now, more than ever, we can’t be complacent.”
—Sue McGill, a Toronto-based startup investor, mentor and head of the consumer and commerce cluster at MaRS Discovery District
Maybe this is the kick up the pants we needed?
“My biggest fear is that [the] relationship between the USA and the European Union will be eroded, and this will give even more influence for Russia, especially in my home region, Eastern Europe.”
—Gábor Juhász-Nagy, a Budapest-based comic artist who publishes under the moniker Caaroy Carville
“I hope he can make America great again, as he said. Then America would be able to [remain] as the world leader. I would ask him to look at Cambodia and help this country not to fall into civil war again, as in the 1970s, or like the war in Syria.”
—Vanna Hay, a Tokyo-based engineer and would-be Cambodian politician
“I fear that this will increase the strain that Europe is under by emboldening Russia and therefore putting added foreign policy pressures on us Europeans at a time when we’re firefighting already on all sorts of fronts in almost every European national context. I also think, from a U.K. perspective, that this will fire up those who want a hard and stupid Brexit like Nigel Farage. In part because they will feel they can take a page out of the crass-talking Trump book, but also in part because they will be lulled into thinking they can have some sort of renewed ‘special relationship’ with the U.S. under Trump. I’m hoping that this turns out to be prescient.
“But hopefully, over the next decade, this will galvanize progressives of all stripes to discover a new formula to represent our values. By this I mean that Trump is the surest expression of the exhaustion of the old model of social democracy — exhausted by financial capitalism, gutted by the dark side of digital. We have no choice now but to reinvent ourselves and our institutions … maybe this is the kick up the pants we needed?”
—Catherine Fieschi, London-based director of Counterpoint
“The optimistic scenario: The U.S. democratic political system is strong enough to discipline and tame the new president. The pessimistic scenario: The U.S. democracy will be overburdened by a president who is proud to know nothing.”
—Anton Pelinka, a Budapest-based politics professor at Central European University
I fear that Trump’s presidency empowers these populists worldwide, and that racism will become an even bigger structural norm.
“He is uttering extreme statements every day, frequently contradictory, and seems quite unpredictable.” Impeachment is a real possibility, this academic argues — but she says to watch his advisers instead, who “are quite knowledgeable and thus, I believe, should be foregrounded more than the continuous focus on Trump — especially [Steve] Bannon.”
—Ruth Wodak, an expert on right-wing populism and professor at Lancaster University who’s also affiliated with the University of Vienna
“Extreme right-wing populists have gained more and more support in nearly all European countries, including Finland and especially in Hungary, Poland and now the U.K. [with] Brexit. A lot of people fear for their basic income and their ability to live a decent life. The common man and woman are frustrated and feel that they have no power over their own lives. The populists take advantage of this fear by giving simple solutions and by pointing a finger at the supposed guilty ones — basically anyone who is in an even weaker position; immigrants being the most vulnerable target. I fear that Trump’s presidency empowers these populists worldwide, and that racism will become an even bigger structural norm.
“At the same time, I can’t help but think that the majority of Americans did not vote for Trump, and this gives me hope. I want to see an ever-growing awareness in people regarding what is happening in the corporate world and politics. I want to see people getting involved and taking charge. I think this is already happening, but it needs to grow.”
—Selma Vilhunen, a Helsinki-based, Academy Award–nominated film director
“My hope for the future is that we start to realize the importance of education. Societies that invest in their children are societies that do best in the long run. My biggest fear is that we’re going to experience a third world war because you have a president that is so unpredictable and that we’ll create a culture of fear and stupidity, without reflection and critical thinking.”
—Rosan Bosch, a Copenhagen-based designer
“One of the biggest things I’m afraid of that kind of got lost in the final months of the election cycle is what Trump said in the wake of the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre: That if [some were] carrying guns inside the club, that would have mitigated the risk and potentially would have stopped [it]. Using that tragedy as a moment to make a case for abolishing gun-free zones — which has really never been shown empirically to have the impact that he has [claimed] — I thought was very scary. The implication would be, does that mean schools will have guns? Will teachers have guns? I do think that’s a very dangerous policy that he’s advocated for.
“I’m still an American citizen, and I’ve lived in Canada for about five years now. To be honest, this election has me thinking more and more about applying for citizenship. I had always considered California my home, and in a way it would always be my home. But there was something very different about my experience when I landed in Pearson Airport in Toronto after a talk at the University of Texas on election Tuesday; my cab driver was a Sikh and there was a ton of different immigrant families to greet people coming through the international gate. It’s a place where there isn’t this fearmongering about refugees. It’s a place where people embrace multiculturalism. It was a breath of fresh air, to be honest, as an American expat.”
—Jooyoung Lee, a Toronto-based American expat and assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto
*Neil Parmar, Tracy Moran, Fiona Zublin, Leslie Nguyen-Okwu, Nick Fouriezos and Daniel Malloy contributed reporting
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