Earlier today Donald Trump tweeted that Boeing was spending $4 billion dollars to renovate Air Force One. He was off the facts by orders of magnitude but that doesn’t mean he didn’t know knew exactly what he was doing. It’s time we stop trying to read his tweets as exercises in truth finding. It doesn’t matter if Trump didn’t know or didn’t care about his numbers: With authoritarians, we must follow the effects, not the logic.
Trump’s tweet came less than half an hour after the Chicago Tribune posted a few short quotes from the Boeing CEO saying they were concerned about the implications of trade with China under a Trump Administration. It was relatively tame stuff and of course a multinational with billions of dollars in China is going to be concerned. About a quarter of their aircrafts are built for the Chinese market.
But follow not the logic but the effect: if you criticize this president in public he will destroy your shareholder value. Boeing lost half a billion dollars in value following Trump’s 140 characters. Every CEO in America will now have to think twice before speaking to the press. It would be fiscally irresponsible to do otherwise. A few quotes in a paper isn’t worth that amount of shareholder value.
Free speech isn’t just court cases or a few lines in the Constitution. Even the CEOs of the largest corporations in America need to watch their tongues. Silencing has begun.
It seems a lot of conversations I’m in these days, on social media and IRL revolve around how we should be responding to Trump’s election. I know there’s a certain danger in being too deterministic, but a lot of answers seem to match where individuals are in the vulnerability scale. Some are counseling patience: let’s see how it goes after the inauguration. Maybe we don’t know the real Donald Trump.
Well, I think we do know the real Trump by now, but what I don’t think we know is the actual flavor of a Trump presidency. Have we ever seen a president elect who was so thin on actual policy? Trump rode his lack of policy experience to victory, of course, citing his independence from the people who govern as one of his chief qualifications. But it’s also his personality: on the campaign trail and in his famous 3am tweets from the toilet he often contradicted himself.
He’s a man of high-concept ideas, not detailed policy. This means the actual policies – and the governance we should and shouldn’t worry about – will depend disproportionately on the people he hires. Right now it seems like he’s trolling lobbyists and a handful of neocon dinosaurs that started the Iraq War on forged documents. He’s bringing the alligators in to “drain the swamp” and in the last 24 hours they’ve already signaled that a lot of key campaign pledges are open for reconsideration. How much we have to worry – and just what we have to worry about – will be clearer as his team assembles.
Websites are starting to talk about a Donald Trump presidential cabinet and the names highlight a curiosity of this election: many of the principle insiders come from Northeast Corridor states that voted for Hillary Clinton. Rudolph Giuliani and Chris Christie, are, like the whole Trump family, metro New Yorkers and as far as I know Newt Gingrich lives in northern Virginia.
I’ve lived in Chris Christie’s New Jersey since he was elected governor and I find it really hard to believe he’s suddenly going to have a strong interest in the Midwestern red states that gave Trump the win. You can point to VP-elect Mike Pence of Indiana, but as far as I can tell he was only brought on for strategic reasons and is not part of the Trump circle.
What really can Trump do to bring back the good paying jobs that disappeared decades ago? Our economy has been shifting regardless of which party occupies the Oval Office. There’s sops and pork to be doled out, but the national economy has been centralizing in the big coastal cities that our new political leaders call home (the same would have been true with a Clinton presidency). What if Trump’s election is the ultimate prank: red states selling their vote to a New York developer who will mostly continue to develop the New York-to-DC corridor?