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Be warned: The Donald Trump effect will touch us all.

Donald Trump’s win signals a shift in values—one that will affect people around the world


 
Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump cast their votes on Election Day at PS 59 November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump cast their votes on Election Day. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The most contentious, ill-mannered and astounding United States presidential election in modern history has finally come to a close. The race between Republican Donald Trump, who was elected 45th president of the U.S. this week, and his competitor Democrat Hillary Clinton plumbed new lows for political discourse and electioneering. Drawn by its perverse entertainment value, the campaign attracted the attention of Canadians in ways never before seen.

Unfortunately, the election’s conclusion does not mean an end to the histrionics that characterized the campaign south of our border. Canada cannot simply change the channel and move on to other diversions. With the ascension of Trump, the 2016 US election signals a profound shift in values with significance for the entire world. Foundational beliefs that have underpinned decades of global prosperity now face existential challenges. Trust in the institutions necessary for a functioning democracy has been threatened as never before. And accepted standards of political debate have been thoroughly debased. Can global prosperity and civility survive a Trump presidency?

OUR DEFINITIVE READ: The rise of Donald Trump

Free trade and immigration were once axiomatic to global growth. Between 1950 and 2007, global trade expanded at an incredible 6.2 per cent per year, spurring tremendous growth in incomes and leading to a worldwide reduction in poverty. More than goods moved about freely during this golden era; people did as well. Together the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand welcomed nearly one million immigrants annually over this 57-year period. This free flow of human capital across borders was similarly crucial to rising productivity and incomes worldwide. This week’s election puts future growth in trade and immigration in peril.

Both Clinton and Trump built their policy platforms on a deep suspicion of trade, including vows to abandon the Trans Pacific Partnership and renegotiate or scrap NAFTA. This is largely the fallout of the 2008 Great Recession, which caused tremendous economic dislocation and anger across many segments of America. And these folks have made their displeasure well known through Trump’s victory. This economic unease is reflected in a rising tide of nationalism elsewhere in the world. Trump’s hostile position on immigration is similarly isolationist and in synch with developments in other countries, including Brexit and the growing anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe. Again, this marks a significant shift in global values.

MORE: A brutally poetic end to an election of hard narratives

Throughout the post-war period, the world has relied on the U.S. to take a dominant leadership position in promoting trade, immigration and democratic freedoms worldwide and fighting against isolationist tendencies. Trump represents a capitulation of this role. America’s abandonment of global leadership threatens the entire foundation of western prosperity, Canada included.

Beyond trade and immigration, the 2016 U.S. election has also undermined the institutional backbone of democracy. We will obviously never know if Trump actually would have refused to accept a Clinton victory, but his suggestion that the electoral process was ‘rigged’ against him opens the door to future dissent and disruption that could prove very damaging. The same goes for the depressing decline in electoral behaviour. Trump’s insult-laden performances during the televised debates − calling Clinton a “nasty woman” who should be “in jail” − set new lows for such events. It certainly marks a massive decline in civility when compared to the 2012 televised debates between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Four years ago, the two candidates sat at a desk and politely disagreed with each other on the finer points of health care, foreign policy and the optimal number of ships in the U.S. navy. They may not have been best friends, but they managed to have a coherent and detailed debate that illuminated significant differences in their platforms for the benefit of voters.

MORE: What got lost during the 2016 U.S. election

What explains the rapid decay in good manners? Trump’s predilection to insult and threaten whoever challenges him certainly has a lot to do with it. Yet once again the outcome cannot be laid solely on his outsized personality. Trump’s behaviour is also indicative of broader societal trends, especially the tendency of social media to push all conversations towards extremism by exaggerating existing beliefs and prejudices. The increasing polarization of the U.S. vote along racial, educational and geographic lines further reinforces this effect. And the echo chamber effect has eroded the value of facts in political debate.

Canadians who’ve watched this election unfold in front of them may seek solace in the fact our elections have not become so thoroughly debased. Trade and immigration are thankfully still considered virtues in this country. And we offer greater respect to our democratic institutions. But all this is just whistling past the graveyard. Given the U.S.’s outsized role in world affairs and the global economy, the Trump effect is likely to touch us all.


 

Be warned: The Donald Trump effect will touch us all.

  1. Yes Trump will affect us all. The bully boy has entered the schoolyard and one way or another we must deal with him.

  2. Those who voted for Trump sought to rekindle the American heritage of liberty, independence and self-reliance that is threatened by globalist elites. Communism, unfettered migration, loss of sovereignty, and the corruption within the Obama administration all came to light because Trump couldn’t give a rat about political correctness. The socialist elites of Europe and the UN will not go quietly into the night. Trump should be prepared for a rough ride, but should stand strong!

    Congratulations America!

    • Congratulations on cramming that many tired, meaningless cliches into such a brief comment.

    • Expect to get a pushback from the left wing socialists who feel entitled to everything at someone else’s expense. With any luck, maybe even Canada will be able to reverse our downward trend and make a similar move in our next election.
      We’ve seen how well the opposite ideas work.

  3. I really wonder if the mainstream media will ever manage to come to the realization that this victory by Trump was not based on a whole lotta bigots voting him in and more to do with intelligent, informed people that were fully aware of the Clinton Foundation and it’s intention to have American policy sold to the highest contributor. I am still not certain if this is some corporate directed conspiracy to that has always intended to put the ultimate corporate shill, Hillary Clinton, into power or that those in the media are so completely oblivious as to the crisis that middle class America is actually in and has been in for two decades now. I found it completely sickening that Clinton’s wrongdoings in terms of her private email server and her complete lack of discretion in terms of handling top classified information, the Clinton Foundation’s $675,000 campaign contribution to a woman running for a senate seat in Virginia who just so happened to be married to an FBI agent in charge of investigating Hillary’s emails, that the FBI stated that the investigation found no wrongdoing after all. None of this was ever given any headlines, none of this was investigated or reported on by the ‘mainstream media’ and yet said ‘mainstream media’ can honestly be ‘stunned’ that Trump was elected. This is a wake up call to all that report the news, it is now time for them to actually report the news, not shape it to their political preference.

    • They won’t. I know a staunch Democrat who supports LGTBQ+ (and associated marriage), abortion, climate change and the majority of left leaning ideals. They are also the farthest from a sexist, racist bigot and they do not like Trump as a person. They voted Trump anyway. Nobody seems to want to ask the single most important journalistic question. Why?

      • 80-90% of evangelical Christians – a huge voting bloc in the US – voted for Trump. Why? Because he said he would overturn the abortion law and defund Planned Parenthood. He will also bow to religious zealots in Congress who will demand an end to gay/lesbian marriage. He will probably also ban rock music, comic books, sex before marriage, smoking, alcohol and refusing to salute the flag.

        Welcome to the 1950s.

        • That does not answer my question. I will fill in the blank here. I suggest you go read Clinton’s Wall Street speeches and take a gander through wikileaks.

          Also in response to your statement….the right tends to attract a certain type of racist…..but so does the left. I could counter by saying the majority of authoritarians who are opposed to free speech and intellectual diversity voted Clinton (go look at campuses in the US). That argument gets us nowhere though and contributes nothing. You have to look at ALL demographics and why they voted to get a better ‘big picture’ outlook.

  4. I see the USA as a country with a lot of moderates who are trapped on the opposite side of a line drawn in the sand, looking across at each other, then looking around to the maniacs on their own side. There is too much “intersectionality” on both sides with crazies, racists and fanatics. Now is the time, more than ever, for the moderate, sensible people from both sides of the aisle to work together. Both sides need to confront the toxic elements in their camp and try so salvage what they can from those people, you know mellow them out, and cast out the rest. The way they’ve been doing it so far obviously isn’t working, if it was then that con-man wouldn’t be the goddamn president elect right now. The elite are laughing all the way to the bank as the plebs are at each other’s throats. If the people actually come together, demand transparency in government, and demand a government that serves the people rather than corporate overlords. If not, I’m afraid that the American Empire is in the phase of it’s terminal decline, and for us up here that’s not a good thing.

  5. Shift in values? Yes; values are forever changing and have always been part of the evolution of all societies.
    Please, all you people out there that disliked Trump and are now faced with his presidency must deal with the coming changes in values, economy and other areas of a shift to a new and totally different American government. The sky is not falling and a majority of American electoral college voters wanted change.
    And that’s what the US and the world got. C’est la vie

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