Saturday, November 26, 2016

Everything and Anything

This is not about politics. It's not about right or left, conservative or liberal. It's not about agreeing or disagreeing, about protesting or promoting. But the fact is that it is a new world order, and we need to figure out the lay of the land. You don't have to like it; you do have to deal with it.

To say few saw Donald Trump becoming our next president is an understatement. As such, the contingency planning for just such an event was pretty slim. Even his own transition staff was grinding along, seemingly going through the motions as opposed to doing actual planning. It was even reported that the president-elect refused to discuss the transition himself out of superstition. But if it wasn't a lost opportunity, it's certainly one deferred. And since his world view differs greatly from the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as the person who was the presumptive next occupant, the reshuffling of the deck chairs promises to be greater than expected.

Coupled with that is the fact that our new leader preferred to focus on broad thematic ideas as opposed to detailed policy initiatives. To be sure, they were certainly more memorable ("Build the Wall") as opposed to mind numbing ("A 14-step plan to Securing the Borders"), and probably were a major factor helping him to get him elected. But as the old saying goes, you campaign in poetry and govern in prose, though in this case it might be adapted to say you campaign in Twitter and govern in, well, Twitter. The problem is that 140 characters is a little lean to explain the nuance of a nuclear deterrent strategy.

And so all kinds of things need to be fleshed out in excruciating detail. As we sit here there are opinion pieces and analyses and position papers being written at a furious rate in the areas of economics, immigration and energy policy to name just a few. Make no mistake: whether you agree with their point of view or not, it's not that there aren't skilled and intelligent people with the requisite skills and training ready to offer an opinion and the outlines of a plan in each individual area. It's just that no one took building them out as an imperative.

To be sure, what happens in the government is of paramount importance. But an equally flat footed response took place just about everywhere else. Few expected the outcome, and so few planned for it. Companies and even entire industries didn't develop "Plan B" scenarios. For instance, insurance companies, hospitals and other health care providers have heard about the repeal of Obamacare for so long it became part of the background noise. But now that it has moved from the nuisance buzz of a tiny mosquito to the angry BUZZ of a large wasp, the question is what to do. It's not that there aren't ways to strategically plan for it, it's just that nobody bothered to do it until now.

Even interested parties in areas outside of national policy are wondering what the change in the White House will mean in their world. Will there be a switch in how the arts are funded? Will the fashion scene change now that Michelle cedes the stage to Melania and Ivanka? Does the emphasis on conservative and American values mean that the growth in international restaurants in Washington and elsewhere will slow? After all, the president-elect likes well-done steaks, McDonalds's, and bacon and eggs. If meatloaf is his idea of haute cuisine, and his staff is cut from the same cloth, that little Thai place down the street from the White House is likely going to wither and die.

And that's just the top level. He doesn't use a computer or email; other than Twitter, he's a Luddite. So what about the future of tech? He's rarely seen in anything other than a suit and tie; what does that do for the polo shirt industry? What are his views on gardening? Cooking? Movies, TV and video games? His affection for or against any of those, or a push in any specific direction could mean more James Bond movies, a greater national emphasis on fried foods or the decline of kale. Make no mistake: there's a new sheriff in town, and it remains to be seen if dancing will or will not be encouraged.


Marc Wollin of Bedford is waiting and watching. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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