Why Trump Won

by Daniel Wagner Managing Director of Risk Cooperative / Co-author of “Global Risk Agility and Decision Making”. 09.11.2016

This election was a ridiculously long and sad spectacle, as well as being a total media circus, and said something rather unfortunate about what we appear to have become as a nation. America has officially made the transition from personifying the era of Lincoln and Fireside Chats to that of reality television, soap operas and sound bites. That the entire presidential electoral process has been turned into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise where ‘entertainment’ trumps substance turns my stomach. That said, this election appears also to represent an important turning point.

In the end, Trump won because he successfully tapped into the vein of tens of millions of disenchanted voters fed up with institutionalized, legalized corruption, and business as usual. Never mind that he railed against the corruption of Washington and Wall Street when he and his business are products of that same corruption. Never mind that he portrayed himself as the champion of the blue-collar worker, when he has never known a blue-collar day in his life. Never mind that he made our armed forces believe he is their champion, even though he never spent a single day in the service of our country, and has allied himself with Mr. Putin, who many believe is America’s greatest enemy. The people wanted someone and some thing to believe in, and the Entertainer-in-Chief gave them that.

A high set of expectations have been set by Mr. Trump, and there is serious doubt about when or if he will be able to meet them. Just because someone is elected to clean the place up doesn’t mean he will be able to do so. The system is, and will remain, terribly broken, no matter how much he huffs and puffs and tries to blow the house down. All those people elected in Congress slid into office the olde fashioned way: the people behind the money that got them there have some expectations, too. As much as I would like to believe that the corrupt political system that runs our nation will disappear in 4 or 8 years under the guidance of Donald “The White Shining Light”, we all know that just isn’t going to happen.

I didn’t vote for Hillary. Like millions of other Americans, I voted against Trump. Though I find him repulsive, revolting, and reprehensible on a variety of levels, I am actually in favor of some of his proposals — none more so than to impose term limits on everyone in Congress. I just love the idea of limiting every member of Congress to a single 6-year term. In theory, that would remove the need for them to spend 80 percent of their time raising money to get re-elected, and focus instead on who sent them to Congress, and why they were sent there in the first place. There is, however, the question of whether anyone in Congress would actually approve a constitutional amendment to that effect, transforming the institution from a feeding trough into a legislative body. I’ll believe that when I see it.

It is doubtful that Mr. Trump will be able to heal our terribly divided nation, which he so handily and successfully contributed to. Now that the battle lines are drawn — between those who cling to an “Ozzie and Harriet” vision of America, in which everyone is white, conservative, straight and Christian, and those who recognize and accept the multi-racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation of this great land - there is no putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, certainly not with a leader hell bent on fanning tendencies toward divisiveness, rather than unity. While we are certainly not all going to be joining hands together and singing kumbaya, no matter who is president, we are not going to get there by having a Divider-in-Chief at the helm.

America desperately needs dramatic political change. It would appear that most Americans did not believe that Hillary Clinton would be the change agent to deliver it. Instead, the majority have chosen an unlikely demagogue to attempt to deliver that change. If Mr. Trump can deliver on half of what he has promised, I may even consider voting for him if he runs in 4 years, because I also can’t stand what America has become. No matter what modicum of positive change he is able to achieve, we will regrettably remain a country where most people don’t read a newspaper, can’t name the individuals who represent them in Congress, and can’t find Iraq on a map — even after a dozen years at war there. It will take many decades to hope to change that.


Follow Daniel Wagner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/countryriskmgmt

Daniel Wagner can be reached at: or 1-203-570-1005.

Daniel Wagner is Managing Director of Risk Solutions at Risk Cooperative, a Washington, D.C.-based specialty strategy, risk and capital management firm. He was previously CEO of Country Risk Solutions -- a cross-border risk advisory firm he founded -- and Senior Vice President of Country Risk at GE Energy Financial Services.

Daniel Wagner began his career at AIG in New York and subsequently spent five years as Guarantee Officer for the Asia Region at the World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency in Washington, D.C. During that time he was responsible for underwriting political risk insurance (PRI) for projects in a dozen Asian countries. After serving as Regional Manager for Political Risks for Southeast Asia and Greater China for AIG in Singapore, Daniel moved to Manila, Philippines where he was Guarantee and Risk Management Advisor, Political Risk Guarantee Specialist, and Senior Guarantees and Syndications Specialist for the Asian Development Bank’s Office of Co-financing Operations. Over the course of his career Daniel has also held senior positions in the PRI brokerage business in London, Dallas and Houston.

He has published more than 500 articles on risk management and current affairs and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, South China Morning Post and The National Interest, among many others. His editorials have been published in such notable newspapers as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Daniel is also the author of three books: "Political Risk Insurance Guide", "Managing Country Risk", and "Global Risk Agility and Decision Making" (co-authored with Risk Cooperative CEO, Dante Disparte).

He holds master’s degrees in International Relations from the University of Chicago and in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird) in Phoenix. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Richmond College in London.

Daniel Wagner can be reached at: or 1-203-570-1005.

Rate this essay

Click the stars to rate

Recent Essays

Archive