We’re halfway through November, and I can pretty confidently say it is one the world is not likely to forget.
Half of Americans are stunned and saddened. The other half are stunned and feel surreal. The rest of the world isn’t sure what to make of it.
Good or bad, Trump is going to be President of the United States of America come January.
It wasn’t by fluke. It wasn’t a mistake. Over 60 million people demanded something different, something they hadn’t seen before, and they got it.
As I always like to do, I wonder what this means for agriculture. Not from the stance of trade or subsidies or policy, but in the information age, what can we take from a Trump win?
To be frank, I’m impartial to the win. Am I concerned about what could happen? Sure. But then again I would be with a Clinton presidency too. Neither was perfect; they were far from it. But the way this election was carried out is different than ever before, partly because the tools to reach people are different. Here are my thoughts…
How Authentic Are You?
This is something I think we heard loud and clear from those that supported Trump. They were supporting him because he said it like it was or that he wasn’t concerned about the political optics. Clinton supporters didn’t share that same sentiment about their candidate. They thought of her as more presidential. They thought of her as a better voice for minorities and foreign policy. And most of all, they thought of her as the Anti-Trump. I didn’t hear people say they thought of her as down-to-earth and just like them.
People crave something real and something they can believe in. Whether or not the message is what you think people want to hear doesn’t always matter. What speaks to them, does.
It’s got me thinking about my own work in advocacy. Trying to get the perfect picture or trying to say just the right thing can work. But can it be as effective as real or as authentic? That’s one that will taking some thinking to answer, but is worth something.
What Do People Really Want?
The vast majority of polls predicted a Clinton win. Maybe not a landslide win, but only a 10% chance of a loss. On CBC in the evening election coverage, one pundit said there was no chance Michigan would go Republican. Another on CNN predicted the scenario of Trump winning the majority of overall votes, but that Clinton would handily take the Electoral College. Reuters was even so bold to take less than 24 hours to somehow explain all they got wrong in some kind article that seemed to vindicate them of any error. It included not taking into account voter turnout from each side, or from individual states.
I think it can also be linked to people saying one thing and doing another. Some would not want to mention that they supported Trump for fear their circle of friends might give them a verbal drubbing that would leave scars.
It goes back to a point I made last year that you can find when people shop for groceries. If they don’t buy organic, but feel their friends would start judging their parenting skills, then they don’t bring it up. The same has been studied several times around local produce, that shows people say they would spend more on local food because it is what they believe people want to hear – but on inspection leaving the grocery store most still go for the cheaper or on-sale product. Or as the joke goes – if you don’t want people to know you shop at Wal-Mart, take your Escalade and go shopping one neighbourhood over.
People may have felt guilty for supporting Trump, but when in the privacy of the voting booth they clearly felt it was for best.
When we change production practices based on polls and what people tell us, are we really doing what they want? Or we doing it because people think it might be better, but in the end only want it if it is just as cheap?
The Influence of Hollywood
The more time I spend in the world of advocacy, the more I get frustrated by celebrities. Not because I think they carry all the weight of the world, but because they have followings, they have influence and they have funds that they throw around campaigns they think are somehow better, without knowing the facts.
Paltrow on GMOs; McCarthy on vaccines; or Gosling on dairy cow treatment — they get an audience because people know their names.
This group was heavily involved in this campaign, (as they tend to be) heavily supporting the Democrats (as they tend to be). Some even suggested they’d move north of the border if Trump won. But the reality is, there is a majority of people who don’t follow everything these celebrities say and do. This election is evidence of that.
The celebrities latest brush at trying to paint Trump supporters as sexist, racist, or worse, isn’t helping their cause either. People are tired of being told what to do, how to feel, and tired of being told they are less of a citizen if they don’t believe everything they are told by the elite few.
Good, real news can hit home and make people feel comfortable and confident again.
Does this mean the world of advocacy is about to get a whole lot easier? No. But it does shine some light on issues we worry about as we try to open the barn door to everyone else that isn’t lucky enough to be able to visit one.