David Perell

Where Do We Go Next?

David Perell
Where Do We Go Next?

“History’s classic solution is either politics distributing prosperity or revolution distributing poverty.”  —  Naval Ravikant

Donald Trump is the new face of America.

The message “Make America Great Again” has resonated with a swath of angry Americans. The 90% of all voters under 25 who placed their blue vote are livid, perpexed and anxious about the present and future state of America. They see a deeply intolerant country, an increasing divide between political parties and fear an impending revolution against the status quo.

The wickedness of Trumpism has shown its face since the election. Trump’s appointed Myron Ebell, a climate change denier to oversee the EPA transition. Racism is in full force across the country. Black freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania were targeted with racial slurs and hateful imagery depicting lynchings. Hispanics and Muslims are being threatened and harassed. Trump’s hateful rhetoric is normalizing.

Trumpism is here. Where do we go next?

Donald Trump’s election is a reflection of the rising strength of populist movements throughout the developed world. Society is plagued by segregation on and off the internet. A lack of empathy, a byproduct of racial and class segregation is expanding the political divide between rural America and dense urban pockets. This illuminates the need for more equal distribution of wealth to achieve social stability, technological progress, human health, well-being, and sustenance.

The middle class feels stuck behind a curtain of free trade agreements and GDP growth. To them, economic growth is a zero sum game with all the gains going to untrustworthy elites.

Can we blame them? Dependable manufacturing jobs are leaving for foreign lands. Big banks were bailed out after destroying the lives of millions of Americans who’ve lost faith in the American Dream. Meanwhile, mainstream elites bowed to the altars of technological progress and trickle down economics. Each advancement has perpetuated greater inequality and contributed to the frustration. The battle between nationalists and technologists is here to stay.

Trumpism is fueled by the cascading loss of trust in government, big business, and the establishment.

For decades, the rising elites kept the middle class in check with two powerful parties. Both Democrats and Republicans leveraged longstanding media and lobbying relationships to manipulate public opinion. Suspicious investments and two-faced personas perpetuated distrust.

Now the system is broken. A mass revolution is about to begin. Plutocrats vs. the middle class — globalism vs. nationalism — technologists vs. luddites.

We’ve seen this before. Information finds new streams to flow through, filling once empty reservoirs of populist angst. The printing press displaced the once omnipotent church with the revolution of books and literacy. Democracy and progressive philosophies replaced tyrant kings. America itself was born when 18th century colonial rebels rallied against taxation without representation.

Progress never comes easily. The industrial revolution sparked two catastrophic world wars, a debilitating climate and waves of communist threats.

Powerful technologies have a long history of reshaping the global order. International trade grew with the introduction of big ships in the 15th century. Modern banking emerged in the 17th century when banking became mobile. The tools of the 21st century won’t be exclusive to Wall Street bankers. Smartphones have already empowered small-holder farmers in rural Thailand. Mobile networks catalyzed an Arab Spring in 2011. The American Spring in 2016.

While crises are tragic, they provide a rare opportunity for reflection and improvement.

Creative destruction and a truly global economy will spark the downfall of the wavering bastions of the 20th century. Neglected sectors of society will lash out against economic injustice. They will reject the once comforting rhetoric of elites who’ve betrayed them. The exponential rate of technological advancement will create widespread insecurity.

Steven Levy predicts more than 90% of news stories will be written by algorithms in 15 years. Within the decade, truck drivers - the most common job in America - will be replaced by autonomous vehicles. College professors will be replaced by online classes that are cheaper to produce, infinitely replicable, and more immersive. The advancement of skills can't keep up with the pace of technological change. 

Established institutions can no longer compete with nimble, networked systems. New methods are shattering the once opaque monolithic curtain that for years shunned the despairing voices of the powerless middle class. As we dive into an era of exponential progress, we can no longer afford to ignore this once muffled plight.

Social media will create a world where everyone has a voice that transcends cultural and geographical barriers. We will move beyond from today’s painful reality with fresh communication platforms that make it easy to engage with diverse perspectives.

A post-American world inches closer every day. The digital revolution represents the next wave of meaningful change. The collapse of mainstream media and impenetrable bipartisan political parties will give way to postmodern systems that reflect a new world order. Technology, complex data, exponential information and globalization are inevitable forces of change.

Around the world, populist movements are a byproduct of the democratization of everything — everywhere. Information, which used to be scarce is now abundant.

One human can instantly broadcast their message to the entire world without permission or censorship. Widespread information sharing will transcend national borders. Agile social networks will enable mass organization and resistance.

Whispers will turn into shouts. Thoughts will inspire actions. Individuals will become tribes.

The arc of progress is hardly a straight line. Instead, the windy road of progress tacks, twists and turns towards a north star of tolerance and prosperity. Nations that embrace the open flow of people and information will prosper. The times call for a more unified human race, more transparency, and more distributed prosperity. Progress will grant women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, LGTBQ, and people with disabilities the respect and opportunities they deserve.

Choosing to ignore these tectonic shifts is a flawed path forward. America should never return to its old ways. Turning back the clock would not make America great again. The world may feel different today, but the playbook of positive change repeats itself.

Embrace the shock of Donald Trump as our new President elect. Don’t succumb to the impending normalization of Trump’s antics. Begin your own personal path for conceiving revolutionary solutions and achieving resilient progress.

Challenge the status quo. Remember that all human beings are fully human. Reject intolerance. Fight climate change. Speak up. Let the traumatic shock of Trump’s presidency inspire action.

Hour by hour, day by day, we continue to pass the torch of leadership to a progressive class of Millennials and Digital Natives. Each rising generation will lay new bricks on a foundation built by countless generations before them.

Keep learning — keep working — keep progressing.

Disciplined action can redefine the American spirit. We can build a country with liberty and justice for all. Together, we can create lasting change.


“One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.”  —  Barack Obama