Bewilderment. For many this result comes as a shock. After Brexit and following the referendum in Colombia, this newest monumental error in prediction underlines the fundamental flaws in the instruments used to understand our societies. Some have already proclaimed this election to be the “death of data” in politics. The problem is not data per se, however, but rather a lack of comprehension of where society is. Our experts simply do not know what to measure. This underlines a painful truth: the already sizable gap between the elite and citizens will only continue to expand. Until leaders find a way to measure and understand what is happening on the ground in their own countries we will continue to suffer shock and surprise.
Uncertainty. The immediate reality is that American and the world face profound uncertainty. The Trump Administration’s biggest challenge will be domestic, facing an American people deeply divided after the most fraught campaign in recent memory. But these next years will also shake the foundations of global order. Looking at the results of the election, it seems difficult at this moment to subscribe to the conventional wisdom that Washington’s entrenched bureaucracy will narrow the margin of manuever of the incoming President. In international affairs, we leave behind the world of yesterday. With Donald Trump, as was evinced throughout the campaign, all that we know is that nothing will be the same. For now we will have to wait and see. Europeans, like the rest of the world, are faced with profound questions. We can no longer assume that anything about transatlantic relations, including the stability of NATO. In the midst of this fluidity finding a unified European way forward is more important than ever.
Vertigo. For the last year, many have spoken in apocalyptic terms about the possibilities of a Trump presidency. Now that it is upon us we will see that the world is not actually ending, it is shedding its skin. Faced with the reality that beginning in January Donald Trump will lead the indispensable nation, finding a way to adjust to this new world is incumbent on all of us. We have no other choice.