The night before the U.S. election, I stood in front of a Japanese audience at a 500 Startups event and said, “if Trump is elected, on behalf of all Americans, I sincerely apologize.” I said it half-jokingly. But little did I know, my words would foreshadow one of the biggest upsets in U.S. history.
A lot of people, including myself, are trying to make sense of what happened. How could someone like Donald Trump get elected? This must be a dream. Or a nightmare. Because it can’t possibly be reality…
But it is, and hardly any of us in the tech world saw it coming. We’re all in shock. Some have even called for a succession of California from the United States. Our very own Dave McClure made it very clear in expletives how he felt on stage at the Web Summit conference in Portugal. This has been hard to swallow for many of us. We all laughed at the Brexit verdict, and now the world is laughing at us.
What has made this election particularly agonizing is that Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote, and lost the electoral college. As George Takei said on twitter, “the people elected Hillary, but the system elected Donald.”
So now that the system has given us Donald Trump, what do we make of this whole situation?
My hope is that Donald Trump is just a politician in the truest sense of the word. He knew how to speak to a certain group of Americans that felt disenfranchised, and hacked the system. He knew exactly what they were afraid of, and used their fear to his advantage. China and Mexico are taking our jobs. ISIS is going to destroy America. Hillary just represents the establishment. Fuck the establishment. These were the strings he knew he could pull to resonate with a large group of American voters.
But here’s the thing. Just like many politicians, Trump has said completely contradictory things before. He’s said he was for invading Iraq, and then he said he wasn’t. He said he was pro-choice, and then he said he wasn’t. He said he was for universal healthcare, and then he said he wasn’t. He changes his mind all time to advance his goals, only this time his goal was the presidency.
Just like the 59,755,284 that voted for Hillary, I am upset and worried about the outcome. But I hope that this is just another one of Trump’s games, and that he doesn’t believe 90% of the nonsense he has said to win the election.
One of the only people in Silicon Valley that supported Trump and stayed true to his contrarian brand was Peter Thiel. Before the election, he said in an interview, “I think one thing that should be distinguished here is that the media is always is taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously but it always takes him literally. I think a lot of the voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally.” I really hope he’s right.
Want to know how a Donald Trump Presidency might affect Silicon Valley?
Photo from the Atlantic