Global Reactions: ‘Trump’s Alpha Male Darwinian Feat in the US Election is the Power of Disruption in Full Play’

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Andrew Sheng says the way of the tech age is ‘disrupt or be disrupted’, and achieving the unthinkable rests on sheer willpower, as exemplified by the rise from nowhere of Donald Trump and Shenzhen.

andrew_shengAndrew Sheng writes: I was going to write about disruptive technology, but the whole week has been taken up with the disruption of Donald Trump, as he upset the American establishment by winning the US presidential election.

“There was something quite Darwinian about the US election. Here was an alpha male challenging the establishment, both on the Republican and Democratic sides. Against all odds, he defeated the Bush dynasty and the Republican party leadership to win the nomination.”

Trump’s victory repeated the Brexit phenomenon: that the elites don’t get it. Trump basically tapped into the anger in the dominant American white voter that life has not been good the past 30 years – attributing this to globalisation, immigration, disruptive technology and, mostly, the failure of the elites to listen.

Two Iranian women surf the Internet at a cafe in Tehran, Iran, in September, when authorities briefly lifted blocks on social networks and then restored them. Ebrahim Noroozi / AP file

Two Iranian women surf the Internet at a cafe in Tehran, Iran, in September, when authorities briefly lifted blocks on social networks and then restored them. Ebrahim Noroozi / AP file

“Increasingly, societies are networks across which goods, services, information and value are traded, exchanged and created. Those who have access to these networks grow wealthier, outstripping those who are not.”

There was something quite Darwinian about the US election. Here was an alpha male challenging the establishment, both on the Republican and Democratic sides. Against all odds, he defeated the Bush dynasty and the Republican party leadership to win the nomination. Then he crushed the alpha female (Hillary Clinton), partly because somehow no one could quite trust what she really stood for.

“Hong Kong is a perfect example of how cities become successful by being a free port, with low transaction costs, rule of law and access to free information.”

We are likely to see some major changes affecting Wall Street. Remember how, in 1934, newly elected president Franklin Roosevelt sent Joseph Kennedy Senior to go after Wall Street?

“An American friend had this insight – most of his friends refused to tell anyone that they supported Trump. They did not want to appear politically incorrect in supporting a ranting candidate who was not singing along to the traditional songs. But they wanted change – and Obama had not delivered.”

How did Trump get here? Firstly, as a businessman, he understood that the old model was broken because he read the signals right – the average American voter was angry and wanted their issues fixed. Secondly, he knew that the mainstream establishment media was against him but they didn’t get what his pollsters were reading.

[Read the full story here, at South China Morning Post]

The web traffic was showing that his outrageous statements were touching raw nerves. Politics is, ultimately, about the gut rather than the rational mind. Thirdly, the pollsters were reading the old tea leaves, not appreciating how voters were refusing to show their hand till the last minute.

An American friend had this insight – most of his friends refused to tell anyone that they supported Trump. They did not want to appear politically incorrect in supporting a ranting candidate who was not singing along to the traditional songs. But they wanted change – and Obama had not delivered.

obama-trump-handshake

“The election also showed that what concerns voters most is the need for good jobs. This is where globalisation and technology disruption have upset the status quo. Jobs either go abroad where wages are cheaper, or technology is such that most manufacturing can be done onshore, but robotics is replacing grunt labour.”

So, what next for Trump and for Asia? Based on his campaign language, Trump is likely to be quite tough on allies and competitors alike; essentially, everyone will have to look after their own interests.

The election also showed that what concerns voters most is the need for good jobs. This is where globalisation and technology disruption have upset the status quo. Jobs either go abroad where wages are cheaper, or technology is such that most manufacturing can be done onshore, but robotics is replacing grunt labour.

Hence the only tech-age solution is proper education and training on the job. In the tech age, governments cannot…(read more)

Source: South China Morning Post



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