O Brave New World

 
“O brave new world that has such creatures in it.” A foul world more likely. Now we are entering truly uncharted territory. A white male fantasy to get back to the uncontested leadership position of the fifties. In a world that has changed inside and outside the US. 
 
We’re likely looking at: 
 
(At least) half a decade of geopolitical vacuum
 
Foreign policy under the Obama administration was mostly isolationist. This will, apart from some stressful saber-rattling and brinksmanship, become even more so. The white middle-aged male who elected DT has no interest in taking on responsibilities beyond their own borders. 
 
So Russian, Chinese, Saudi and other governments will continue to enjoy an unchecked and unchallenged vacuum within which to assert power inside and outside their borders, with domestic unrest and civil war the only conceivable disruption.
 
A dumbing down of the public intellect
 
Increased surveillance at home and preemptive self-censorship will radically reduce free speech — less offered, less broadcast, less heard. And this is not just politics. Include science, economics, and, indirectly via populist attacks on liberal elites, also technology. Dulling down the debate and dullling down intellectual excellence and rigor. 
 
Add to that the expected decrease in the influx of super-smart PhD students from overseas and expect a sustained deterioration of activity and output in science, technology, economic thought leadership, and in the arts. “The greatest country in the world.” Really? Expect percentages of Nobel prizes won to drop around 30-35 years from now.
 
Less military, more spying
 
DT has no mandate to put boots on the ground outside the national borders. But in a globalized economy you cannot isolate yourself from geopolitical dynamics. So we expect (even more) surveillance, undercover operations, and financing of proxies, with an irreversible loss of accountability and even more rampant corruption (e.g. the Karzai brothers). 
 
That does not make the world a better place. You may not like boots on the ground, but at least they’re in plain sight.
 
More self-appointed world governments
 
When politics as we know it ends up catering only to local interests and is completely focused on winning elections, not on making a lasting difference, the vacuum is filled by well-meaning visionaries who have the means, the economic interest, and the global perspective to look at the big picture. 
 
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and Erich Schmidt and many more of the “Davos” elite have gained their outsized fortunes in a truly global market and now are putting their means to use addressing global and long-term challenges. Even if you applaud their efforts you may be wondering if there are any checks and balances there at all. You may also be wondering about the areas that they don’t address. 
 
Long term?
 
It’s too early and too unpleasant to think about the very long term effects:
 
A divided society where the coastal elites and the denizens of Trumpland have stopped speaking to each other a long time ago. There’s a fence there already.
 
A supreme court stacked with DT nominees. Remember Citizens United. Changed the world forever.
 
So?
 
The good news: After eight years of GWB we got Obama. You might hope for that kind of salvation.
 
The bad news: After four or more years of DT it might take a dozen Obamas over several generations to get anywhere at all. 
 
 
 

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