The election of 2016 is finally over. By all accounts this campaign season was a no holds barred battle. The candidates offered contrasting visions for our country’s future that where robustly explored and vetted by the electorate. No national consensus emerged on policy. Rather, voters split along geographic fault lines for their favored candidates.
A troubled nation, divided.
Where are we now?
First, congratulations are in order.
Donald J. Trump is now the President Elect of the United States of America. Against all odds he and his allies used asymmetrical strategy, tactics and policy proposals to prevail.
Team Clinton should also be proud of their accomplishments. Their efforts resulted in Hillary Clinton being the first woman to lead a major party’s presidential ticket. This is a historic accomplishment by any standard.
Those competing for Congress as well as those jockeying for down ballot state and local contests should also be commended. Running for political office is hard. The personal sacrifices made by these men and women are often ignored and usually unacknowledged. They deserve our thanks.
These leaders, both winners and losers, now face a daunting challenge. They must help our country reconcile the differences that divide us. As we enter the New Year, the time for campaigning has ended and the time for governing has begun.
What should Direct Response expect?
The end of Obama’s term in office was marred by gridlock here in Washington DC. While frustrating to many, the net effect of Congressional inaction was a relatively stable business environment for market participants.
This dynamic will end starting in 2017. Republicans will control the White House, U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The beginning of the Trump era should see a breakthrough of the current legislative logjam with a huge backlog of issues debated and eventually passed into legislation.
In contrast, the Obama legacy of aggressive Regulatory action and overreach will encounter stiff pushback moving forward. Both President Trump and an empowered Republican Congress have been incentivized to restrain the federal bureaucracy.
Donald Trump is no stranger to the Federal Trade Commission having settled an FTC anti-trust lawsuit over a stock purchase in the mid 80’s. This can only be seen in a positive light as it relates to the agency’s enforcement activity over the next four years.
Regardless, the Trump era will result in a mixed bag for direct response marketers. During the election Donald Trump quarreled with Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com and Washington Post fame. The resulting discourse over Online Sales Tax must be considered a negative for one of our Association’s signature issues.
Similarly, all indicators suggest that the long dormant industry issue of Net Neutrality will see renewed life during the Trump era. He recently appointed two longtime adversaries of the policy to his transition team.
Another potential negative for the industry can be found in President Elect Trump’s intense focus on cybersecurity. Our industry should expect a spillover effect from this focus into the civilian privacy and data security debate.
But Wait There Is More…
It is important to note that business leaders should expect the unexpected during a Trump administration. By design, Donald Trump thrives on chaos, asymmetrical thought processes and the element of surprise. The instability these techniques create can make it exceedingly difficult to provide effective business guidance in the near term.
The probability of a negative Trump “surprise” on trade, immigration or conflict of interest is a very real danger. This potential danger should temper any irrational exuberance one might encounter over the potential for relaxed Regulatory oversight.
There can be no doubt that we live in exciting times. I look forward to working with you regardless of administration or potential threat to ensure a healthy and dynamic marketplace for years to come.