Editor's Note: Your editor took extra time to sort out how to approach this week's post. Both progressives and conservatives alike have for months been sounding the alarm on Donald Trump. This was not partisan politics as usual but a dawning realization that something fundamental and troubling had shifted in the electorate that could negatively affect America's future. So as we all contemplate what Trump's win means for our collective missions, it is in this light the compilation is presented this week.
In homage to the passing of Leonard Cohen, let's start off with my favorite song, "Everybody Knows", which I think sums up the mood of the country:
Check out this prescient passage from Richard Rorty's book, "Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America," which was written nearly 20 years ago:
Several current writers have noted that what makes a Trump presidency worrisome is how much his rhetoric sounds like that of other authoritarian leaders. Tobias Stone, an academic with a background in anthropology and archeology, argues that history offers lessons on cycles of large-scale destructive change, but it is often hard to see the forest for the trees:
At a local level in time, people think things are fine — then things rapidly spiral out of control until they become unstoppable, and we wreak massive destruction on ourselves. For the people living in the midst of this, it is hard to see happening and hard to understand. To historians later, it all makes sense and we see clearly how one thing led to another... It happens again and again, but as most people only have a 50-100 year historical perspective they don’t see that it’s happening again. As the events that led to the First World War unfolded, there were a few brilliant minds who started to warn that something big was wrong, that the web of treaties across Europe could lead to a war, but they were dismissed as hysterical, mad, or fools, as is always the way, and as people who worry about Putin, Brexit and Trump are dismissed now... So I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase.
The author of several books on Russia, Masha Gessen, warns in the New York Review of Books against treating Trump as a “normal” politician:
Clinton’s and Obama’s very civil passages, which ended in applause lines, seemed to close off alternative responses to his minority victory. (It was hard not to be reminded of Neville Chamberlain’s statement, that “We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will.”) Both Clinton’s and Obama’s phrases about the peaceful transfer of power concealed the omission of a call to action. The protesters who took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and other American cities on Wednesday night did so not because of Clinton’s speech but in spite of it. One of the falsehoods in the Clinton speech was the implied equivalency between civil resistance and insurgency. This is an autocrat’s favorite con, the explanation for the violent suppression of peaceful protests the world over.
Having lived in autocracies, Gessen offers some advice for surviving them, including not believing the autocrat, being taken in by small signs of normalcy, thinking institutions will save you, and leaning toward compromise. Meanwhile, in New York Magazine Andrew Sullivan also warns we are in it for a long slog, which he thinks cannot be prevented, even though we must try:
[W]hat we must seek to preserve are the core institutions that he may threaten — the courts, first of all, even if he shifts the Supreme Court to an unprecedentedly authoritarian-friendly one. Then the laws governing the rules of war, so that war crimes do not define America as their disavowal once did. Then the free press, which he will do all he can to intimidate and, if possible, bankrupt. Then the institutions he will have to destroy to achieve what he wants — an independent Department of Justice as one critical bulwark, what’s left of the FBI that will not be an instrument of his reign of revenge, our scientific institutions, and what’s left of free thought in our colleges and universities. We will need to march peacefully on the streets to face down the massive intimidation he will at times present to a truly free and open society. We have to hold our heads up high as we defend the values of the old republic, even as it crumbles into authoritarian dust. We must be prepared for nonviolent civil disobedience. We must transcend racial and religious division in a movement of resistance that is as diverse and as open as the new president’s will be uniform and closed.
The Coming Policies of President Trump
NPR's Amita Kelly and Barbara Sprunt looks at Trump's likely plan for the first 100 days. It is sweeping a laundry list of things he said on the campaign including: revoking President Obama's executive orders; overturning the American Affordable Care Act; deporting undocumented people; renegotiating or backing out of trade deals; establishing tariffs to prevent "the offshoring of workers"; beefing up law enforcement to deal with "surging crime, drugs and violence"; new tax policies; and plans to further privatize public education. You also might interested in this Politico analysis of how these policies might look.
The day following the election, many people wondered what would become of their health care. If the law is repealed, some 22 million Americans could lose coverage and the current state of affairs has caught the healthcare industry flat-footed, reports the New York Times:
[T]he powerful health care industry, which invested hundreds of millions of dollars in preparing for business under the Affordable Care Act, is disoriented about what to do next — and scrambling for ways to avoid a big financial shock. A repeal of the act would mean the loss of millions of customers for insurance companies and an onslaught of uninsured people to hospital emergency rooms for basic care...
The problem is that, until now, top executives from the biggest insurers have not heard from Mr. Trump or his close advisers about his plans. In fact, the industry as a whole made no contingency plans for a Trump victory and does not yet appear to have developed a strategy. In the last few days, executives have huddled hurriedly with their boards and advisers to discuss how to react.
There are signs that Trump will back off a full repeal of the ACA such as keeping the pre-existing condition clause but cutting out the insurance mandate, some worry that the law will become unworkable and may end up costing the United States $40 billion. Over at FiveThirtyEight, Anna Maria Barry-Jester put it this way:
Trump and Congress could resurrect that bill to kill Medicaid expansion, federal subsidies for insurance, tax penalties for not having insurance and taxes created to fund the law. Or they could write a new reconciliation bill...
Assuming that a reconciliation bill did pass, however, piecemeal changes would likely cause a lot of instability. The law is built on interlocking provisions; removing one puts pressure on others. That’s what happened when the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion optional for states, leaving 2.5 million people in states that chose not to expand in what has been called the Medicaid gap: too poor to be eligible for the marketplace subsidies but ineligible for Medicaid. Leaving in place the mandate for insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, as Trump said he’s considering, while getting rid of either the individual mandate — the requirement that people get insured — or the subsidies that motivate low-income healthy people to join the insurance rolls could also create instability in the insurance market. Without the necessary mix of healthy people in a plan to offset the costs of insuring people with pre-existing conditions, premiums rise, becoming unaffordable for everyone.
In the Atlantic, Derek Thompson says those making under $50,000 voted by a double digit margin for Hillary Clinton and that Trump's policies could be a disaster for the poor:
[T]he massive size of the proposed Trump tax is significant, because House Republicans are also calling for a balanced budget. Mathematically that means that the GOP will be on the lookout for $6 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. And Trump has essentially declared more than half the budget off-limits for cuts, since he wants to grow the military and preserve Social Security and Medicare.
With protective collars around defense and spending on the elderly, the rest of government spending would have to be bulldozed. This remainder is dominated by assistance for the young and poor. Medicaid would shrink, as might the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Food stamps would be cut. Federal unemployment insurance spending would fall, as would housing and energy assistance for the poor. The Department of Education would have to be gutted, taking federal student loans with it.
Similarly, Dylan Matthews argues in Vox that his policies could harm the white working class and everyone else struggling in America. In Slate, Helaine Olen argues that Clinton missed making the economic case to Trump voters:
[M]any Trump voters, even if they themselves are better off than average, aren’t living in particularly prosperous regions of the country. They often inhabit areas scarred by de-industrialization, drug addiction, and foreclosure, or rural areas where the jobs are barely existent. Housing prices may be soaring in Silicon Valley, but the reality in the Rust Belt is something else entirely. Less than 24 hours after the polls closed, General Motors announced it would lay off 2,000 workers at factories in Ohio and Michigan. Others are way behind where they thought they’d be at this point in their lives.
She goes on to say the ACA was a catchall for more general frustrations about health care and that suspicion that the government was helping some people more than others fueled resentment:
As Jeff Spross of the Week put it on Twitter on Tuesday night, 'Trump took the entire frickin’ Rust Belt, most of which Barack Obama won *twice.* Time to revise the narrative.' In other words, instead of damning voters for their nasty thoughts, liberals need to identify what triggers some of them to act on those beliefs and put a stop to it.
Speaking of the Rust Belt, TIME Magazine says Trump could start a trade war in his first 100 days, which would have implications for many exporting states. Check out this interactive on trade with China and Mexico:
The Hard Way's Forward
Much has been made of how white, rural America feels it has been left out and let down--this is the theme of the much praised "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance. An article in the Atlantic argues that argues it isn't quite right to depict the white working class as just racist when really they are looking for respect. This seems to fit Merle Haggard's lyric in his song, "Working Man Blues": "I ain't never been on welfare, that's one place I won't be, Cause I'll be working long as my two hands are fit to use."
But in Roll Call, Patrick Thornton, who grew up in a small town in Ohio, pushes against the narrative that coastal elites are the only ones out of touch and need to change:
When you grow up in rural America, denying rights to people is an abstract concept. Denying marriage rights to gay people isn’t that much different than denying boarding rights to Klingons. I have some extended family in rural New Jersey. Some of them had never been to D.C. before visiting me. They had never made the short drive to see the Constitution in person. They had not seen the Apollo moon lander, nor George Washington’s Revolutionary War uniform. And they certainly have not seen the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. They’ve never seen the extent of American greatness or its messiness...
We, as a culture, have to stop infantilizing and deifying rural and white working-class Americans. Their experience is not more of a real American experience than anyone else’s, but when we say that it is, we give people a pass from seeing and understanding more of their country. More Americans need to see more of the United States. They need to shake hands with a Muslim, or talk soccer with a middle aged lesbian, or attend a lecture by a female business executive.
We must start asking all Americans to be their better selves.
The NextBillion has a nice round up of analysis on a way forward for the social impact sector. In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Megan O’Neil and Timothy Sandoval says his presidency could speak of money woes for charities:
Some tax proposals from lawmakers will probably also contain limits on charitable-giving incentives and large spending reductions, too, said Steven Taylor, counsel for public policy at United Way Worldwide and a former Congressional aide.
Nonprofits should be calling their elected officials now, reminding them of the importance the charitable deduction plays in financing nonprofit work, Mr. Taylor said. He said some Republicans might warm to the idea of nonprofits playing a larger role in providing services to needy people in light of possible reductions to welfare programs, he said.
Meanwhile Bloomberg's sustainability newsletter says Trump might be good for ESG investing:
That's because even though ESG investors expect increased uncertainty and setbacks in the global fight for climate change, they also expect the election result to galvanize more private responsible investment.
Trump's victory "shifted the burden of addressing important societal and environmental issues to the private sector," Lisa Woll, chief executive of socially responsible investment organization U.S. SIF, said in an interview.
More than $6.57 trillion in U.S. assets — about one in every six U.S. dollars invested — is currently invested in line with socially responsible strategies, according to U.S. SIF,which expects to publish updated figures next week.
"We do need the government, but we are going to have to work with it where we can and work around it where we must," said Bennett Freeman, former senior vice president of sustainability research and policy at asset manager Calvert Investments, in a phone interview.
Over at Devex, Raj Kumar says he has no easy answers for what this means for broader global development:
It's hard to imagine a Trump administration embracing multilateralism in the global development arena given the rhetoric of the campaign, Pence’s stated concerns with the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, and the views of the conservative establishment. With Jim Kim's re-election over, the next opportunity for this new worldview to manifest itself is the World Bank's general capital increase and International Development Association replenishment over the next year and a half. Then there is the May 2017 election for the next World Health Organization leader, an institution heavily dependent on U.S. financial support. Those multilateral institutions that don't have an immediate issue before the U.S. government may suffer more from neglect than pressure.