This was quite a marketing victory for Donald Trump. To explain what I mean by that, let’s talk about a couple of Marketing 101 concepts for a second. We can differentiate between the old marketing concept, often known as the demand concept, and the new one, which can also be called the societal marketing concept. In the demand concept, the idea is to ask consumers (or in this case, voters) what they want and give it to them. The societal marketing concept, meanwhile, aims to strike a balance between what the people want now and what they will want in the future. It argues that people often don't know what they want- the classic example is that if you had asked people what sort of transportation they wanted in the late 19th century, they would have asked for a faster horse. It was only innovative companies that were able to look past the status quo to design and manufacture a product, the car, that could serve consumer needs better than people possibly could have thought. In addition, the societal marketing concept also takes into account factors like the environment that are difficult to think about now but will be critical in the long-term. I just explained those ideas to make the following point: Donald Trump worked according to the demand concept and did a spectacular job giving the people what they wanted. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, was acting according to the societal marketing concept, but it doesn't matter whether your ideas would leave people better off if you can’t explain them effectively.
Trump appealed to the Americans who have been hurt the most by globalization: the ones in industries who are losing their jobs because companies in other countries can produce at the same quality or better, but with lower costs. If you ask the core Trump voters in rural areas what they want, they’ll tell you that they want to keep their jobs and have a government that supports them and cares about them. They ask several questions among themselves and subsequently to politicians. The fundamental ones are the following: “Why doesn’t my government care that foreign companies are running my company into the ground by selling in our very own country? Why are they letting American companies outsource jobs abroad? Why are they boosting up foreigners while forgetting me?” Trump responded by telling them that he did care about their concerns and would act to help them by imposing more restrictions on trade. He would say that while Clinton and the establishment were busy getting cozy with foreigners, he would be the negotiator the people have needed for so long that would finally assert the power of the United States against other countries to raise US industry up again, to its rightful place, and stop giving the outsiders a free pass. (There are some clear racial undertones in there and that also relates to why Clinton’s foreign scandals were so damaging.)
Clinton and the establishment were actually working to make the United States better in the long-term. A better solution than trade barriers to this problem of people in rural areas being shafted by globalization is to help them transition into the modern world and work in industries where the United States truly has an edge. Simple tasks can be done at lower costs elsewhere- it’s the more complicated ones that require innovation that can’t be outsourced and are much more difficult to do elsewhere. Workers abroad can assemble cars cheaply and answer basic customer questions. However, the US can absolutely continue to be a world leader in innovation, technology, and more complex services, with the tech sector being one prominent example and consulting being another. The US continues to be a world power when it comes to jobs that require thinking rather than just automatic responses and following explicit directions. But what do we do with all of the people who have lived their entire lives working in industries that are now redundant given how strong they are in other countries and how little marginal benefit is added in the US in those fields versus the marginal cost of higher wages? The answer is education, making sure that people stay in school, are taught effectively, and that as many of them as possible graduate from college. The answer is that we lose the notion of “that’s not how it’s done around here” and think about how we can move forward and be successful in a globalized world. The fact that the US isn’t growing as much as people would like is partially due to China, India, and whichever countries you would like to name, but much of the fault is our own. Why are there so many uneducated people in such a developed country? Why are we wasting our time doing jobs that can be done elsewhere when the advantage we have over developing countries manifests itself when people go to school and learn how to think for themselves? However, how can the Democratic Party say that message without insulting the millions of rural voters? How can it explain to them that it is worthwhile for them to endure the short-term anguish of converting to other industries if we truly want to make this country great again in the years to come? Admittedly, that is an exceedingly difficult question to answer, and the most terrifying thing would be if they didn’t try. If you want to imagine something worse than Donald Trump assuming the presidency, imagine a world where the Democrats, in order to stop him, abandon the worthwhile long-term goals that they have been pursuing for so long and join the Trump-led populists in appealing to the short-term wants and desires of American people who don’t know any better. Trump’s policies put the future of the United States in danger, but it could be the inability of Democrats to overtake him without losing their ideals that could truly be the nail in the coffin for this country.
With that in mind, it is up to the Democratic Party- and every anti-Trump politician out there- to figure out how to communicate to the American people what is truly best for them, not what they wrongly think is best for them, in a way that they can understand and that will generate their support. That leads us to the issue of stopping corruption like what we have seen with the Clinton Foundation that websites like WikiLeaks are going to expose increasingly more in the years to come. The heart (i.e. the goals) of the Democratic Party was in the right place even if their actions were not always, but the ends no longer justify the means and the American people will no longer tolerate their shadiness. It’s time to clean house and approach the political system we deserve, one where serving and improving this country is the driving force for each politician and everything else takes a backseat. Donald Trump is exceedingly far from that, but if there is any positive from this, it is that this can be the wake-up call. Even if the principal goals of the Democratic Party and the conventional Republic Party are going to be the same as they have been moving forward, they way in which they get there with regards to the lack of transparency in the political system and the misalignment of incentives for many politicians needs to end. If we get through this challenge, our country could be stronger than ever, with a political system that produces viable candidates from both (or however many) parties and effectuates the change that this country needs in order to take advantage of its vast capabilities and show just how amazing it can truly be. But surviving the ramifications of this election is the most difficult challenge that this country has faced in a long time. (Exactly when? World War II? The Great Depression? The Civil War?) There are no guarantees of anything at this point and that is positively horrifying.