What does it mean, this Trump victory?

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 10 November 2016
Rosie Baker AdNews editor

Hillary Clinton's defeat in the polls yesterday shocked me to my core. I wanted Hillary to win for a few reasons. I wanted to see a woman in the White House, yes. But more than that, I wanted the United States to continue to be run by someone who I regard as qualified to do so. Someone with regard for international diplomacy, for people and for unity. 

I don't regard Donald Trump, the President-Elect, to have any of those things.

It seems a backward step to go from the historic appointment of the US's first African American President, who has held the post and acted with what I see as good grace, common sense and poise for eight years in the face of some heavy challenges, to a man with such different values and character.

I don't know how to make this relevant to our industry - I feel forlorn and let down, disappointed and afraid. As a woman, my first sad thought is that being a man, however unqualified for the post, being accused of sexual assaults against a number of women, a failed businessman and generally mean spirited, is still more acceptable than being a woman in the American political system. There are parallels to every work place, and I don't think this bodes well for progress.

We talk about there being gender bias and inequality in creative departments and business leadership across advertising and media. So much importance is placed on change and progress coming from the top of organisations to give younger generations role models. But what hope is there when the so called 'free world' can elect a leader such as Trump?

It pains me that any woman could vote for a leader who is so publicly misogynistic. Who prides himself on disgraceful “locker room” banter. As if there is not enough inequality in the world already, when leaders disregard the worth of any group in society what hope is there for change? This leader has disregarded the worth of so many groups I'm astonished he won the vote.

If a CEO of any ad agency, brand organisation, media company or any other large or small corporate, had publicly offered the views Trump did repeatedly on a professional platform, I'm fairly certain they would have been relieved of their position fairly promptly.

JWT's ex-global CEO Gustavo Martinez comes to mind. How are Trump's “grab them by the pussy” comments, calling women pigs and dogs and his continued slurs against the Muslim community different to Martinez' alleged rape jokes, sexist, anti-semitic, and racist comments?

One caused outrage, his removal from office and a legal suit. The other? The keys to the White House to lead the United States of America.

This election has ramifications for the world not just the US. Shoehorning it into a lesson for advertising or marketing doesn't seem right and yet there are parallels.

An election is about messaging, after all.

And Trump's messaging won. A catchy slogan, bold, controversial claims and a high profile in the media. Trump's message wasn't necessarily that he was the best man for the job, or that he had realistic policies that would improve the lot of most Americans. But he differentiated himself from the status quo, from what people have lost faith in. It brings to mind the saying 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend'.

An article in Ad ge from earlier this year outlines that the election comes down not to policies, credentials or even politics but to marketing. The candidate with the best marketing strategy will win, it posed. It shouldn't be so – but it appears he did. 

Then there's the issue of where people get their information from. The role that Facebook plays in news distribution had a big impact on the way many people followed the campaign, the news and opinions they read that shaped their views and what they expected to happen.

The echochamber effect of Facebook's algorithm on what poeple see and consume, means that very few people are exposed to views that differ from their own and their circles. It offers little opportunity to see the other side of the argument. That can't be a good thing when it comes to forming a political opinion.

The media -traditional and digital – had a huge role to play in this election. Trump played the media. And he won.

The result also showed up how data doesn't know anything at all.

In the run up to the election, the polls and predictions pointed to a healthy Clinton win.

How did the polls get it wrong? Because people aren't data. People are emotional.

All the commentary yesterday suggested that Trump's win shows how much people are desperate for change. And just how much politicians are untrusted.

Every year in PR network Edelman's trust barometer report, the overarching finding is that people don't trust politicians, the media and big businesses. Earlier this year the report showed trust in government plummeted to a three-year low.

That trust in politicians and the way the world is being led has come to a point where more people would rather vote for a man who claims to be a billionaire, doesn't pay tax, whose business interests have failed, who is accused of sexual attacks against no fewer than 10 women at present. But he speaks their language. Or rather he doesn't speak the language of politicians.

That is the choice over a woman who is more qualified for the position of POTUS than possibly any candidate before her. A woman who has showed great resilience, loyalty, intelligence and diplomacy, and is a natural statesman and leader. Clinton also stood for something progressive - the first female president following the first black president would have been historic.

Trump's victory is a rejection of everything established about politics and government. Much like Brexit before it. It's a wake up call.

I won't claim to fully understand how the electoral college works, but, it seems as though (at present counts) Hilary won more votes than Trump across the nation. More people voted for Hilary than Trump and so while she won the popular vote, she didn't win enough seats in the electoral college to win the presidency.

In the direct aftermath, the markets universally crashed and some have described what will follow as a likely recession with no end point. The ASX closed down $40bn.

In his short speech Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was visibly trying to convey calm. As if this result isn't a wrecking ball to Australian too. It will impact trade agreements, super funds, the stock exchange and much more besides that I won't even pretend to be across at this point.

Turnbull reiterated that the US still has “no stronger ally and better friend” than Australia. Interesting since most of the country, Pauline Hanson's supporters aside, is reeling from the shock result.

Turnbull reiterated that the bond between Australia and the US goes beyond leaders and politicians, and is vital to underpinning the economic stability in the region. Julie Bishop, foreign minister and deputy leader, likewise in her short speech reiterated that Australia will work “constructively” with whoever is running the US.

So like it or loathe it, democracy has spoken and there are lessons for us all.

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