Two worlds collide as Donald comes to Davos

Breaking new ground: Trump is the first president to go to the WEF since Bill Clinton in 2000.

Is Donald Trump a “Davos Man” after all? Yesterday he arrived at the snowy enclave for billionaires and globalists in the Swiss Alps. He has mocked them, but some believe he fits right in.

“Mr Trump, political agent provocateur, scourge of the global elite, blunt-speaking polite-society-gate-crasher, tribune of the deplorables, will indeed ascend the famous Swiss mountain and address well-heeled, bien-pensant, self-appointed leaders of the globalist establishment — right in the inner sanctum of their most sacred temple.”

This is how Gerald Baker, editor of The Wall Street Journal, previewed Donald Trump‘s visit to the World Economic Forum (WEF). The president arrived yesterday and had a meeting with Theresa May. He will give the closing speech of the conference today.

Much of the commentary has echoed Baker’s depiction. Trump comes to Davos in the spirit of a barbarian out for loot. “Davos Man” — and they are mostly men — is a slick internationalist; Trump is a loudmouthed nationalist.

The forum’s theme, “creating a shared future in a fractured world”, could hardly be further from the Trumpian mantra of “America First”. (Although in his speech tomorrow he is expected to say that “America First does not mean America alone”.)

But is this portrayal really correct? Trump did indeed come to power by harnessing the anger of America’s victims of globalisation, but he is himself the head of a global brand. There is a Trump Tower in Manila and a Trump International Golf Club in Dubai.

A considerable part of his real-estate business depends on rich foreign buyers, and as president he has “repeatedly wooed the wealthy and the powerful,” as Alex Shephard writes in The New Republic.

It may be significant that he announced the Davos trip in the same week he parted ways with Steve Bannon, who provided the intellectual framework for Trump’s insurgency against Davos Man.

And even among the most liberal circles, people are starting to whisper that Trump’s economic plans are working. He has slashed corporate taxes and ditched numerous regulations. The American economy is booming, and although business leaders are wary of associating with the president, in private many agree that he is doing a good job.

Is Trump really a Davos Man at heart?

King of the playground

Trump will fit right in, say some. Davos Man has a knack for being “perpetually able to extract new fortune from every situation,” as Peter S. Goodman writes in The New York Times. Forget the plight of refugees or climate change — money is what they care about. And Trump is good for business. It is a perfect fit.

Of course not, reply others. Trump does not talk or act like Davos Man. He explicitly rejects globalism and favours countries pursuing their own goals over international co-operation. He is an erratic risk-taker; his counterparts are cautious pragmatists. He is the antithesis of Davos Man.

You Decide

  1. Is Donald Trump a Davos Man?
  2. Can the World Economic Forum change the world?

Activities

  1. Plan your own forum designed to change the world for the better. Think about its goals, its focus, the venue and who you would choose to invite.
  2. Write down an excerpt from the speech that you think Donald Trump should give later today.

Some People Say...

“The globalists gutted the American working class.”

Steve Bannon

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Donald Trump arrived in Davos, Switzerland, yesterday to attend the World Economic Forum. He is scheduled to give the closing speech later today. We know that many of the attendees at the forum have voiced their disapproval of Trump, especially his views on immigration and trade. Yesterday Trump met with several world leaders, including Theresa May.
What do we not know?
Exactly what Trump will say in his speech. Will he deliver a stinging attack on the “global elites” or will he reach out to them in an attempt to prove that they are not so very different from him after all? We also do not know how welcoming the Davos stalwarts will be to the president.

Word Watch

Deplorables
Trump’s supporters adopted the label “deplorable” after Hillary Clinton said that half of Trump voters were in a “basket of deplorables”, drawing huge criticism.
Mostly men
Despite the introduction of a quota in 2011 designed to increase the number of female delegates attending, men continue to dominate Davos. Of the approximately 3,000 delegates, just 21% are women.
America First
Trump recently implemented high tariffs (taxes) on imported washing machines and solar panels. Japan, China and South Korea are set to be the biggest losers from Trump’s economic protectionism.
Steve Bannon
Bannon is a self-described “economic nationalist” who became Donald Trump’s chief strategist during his presidential bid. He was ousted from the White House in August.
American economy is booming
The US economy grew by 3% in the last half of 2017. However, many economists assert that the American economic expansion, now into its ninth year, owes much to the federal spending unleashed by the Obama administration.

Subjects

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