David Frum | Stormproofing your Future in light of a Trump presidency

‘You think it’s the wildest thing ever, and the next thing is wilder. Even then, engage, don’t retreat. That’s key to preventing ‘how to build an autocracy.’

Expected to be timely and hit a nerve, The Atlantic rushed publication of its March 2017 issue online and on newsstands. Its cover story by David Frum is titled: How to Build an Autocracy, and imagines how the world could change using a timeframe 4 years into a Donald Trump presidency.

Indeed, the article became one of the magazine’s most trafficked ever having already received more than 4million views, and shared widely.

Considered one of the leading political commentators of our time and a Republican, albeit a critic of the president, David Frum came by our office this month in between speaking events – one for the Canadian Auto Dealers Association and another at the Rotman School of Business #ShiftDisturbers event.

Always insightful with a highly informed take on current events and politics, Frum’s words have ignited the conversation around what the future might hold as a result of a Trump presidency and what we as citizens and organizations can do to maintain our democracy.

His on-point presentations lay out the good, the bad and the ugly prospects of our future.

He outlines how to ‘Stormproof your future’. Here’s a few key messages:

  • Understand that no country is exempt from the rise of situations like Brexit or autocracy. What can change it is the actions of individuals.
  • Acknowledge that social media has risen as a source for information…and misinformation. More Americans get their news from Facebook than many other traditional sources. Be conscious of what you’re sharing online.
  • Consider the impact of three great trends in our midst:
    •  Slow down of economic growth
    •  Aging of the baby boomers
    •  Rise of diversity
  • Safeguard against the ‘Seven Broken Guardrails of Democracy’ including a loss of: personal restraint by the leader, expectations of trustworthiness, deep knowledge of public affairs, commitments to global leadership, and a belief in tolerance and non-discrimination.


A few excerpts from The Atlantic article for consideration:

‘The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism:
No society, not even one as rich and fortunate as the United States has been, is guaranteed a successful future. When early Americans wrote things like “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” they did not do so to provide bromides for future bumper stickers.

What happens in the next four years will depend heavily on whether Trump is right or wrong about how little Americans care about their democracy and the habits and conventions that sustain it. If they surprise him, they can restrain him.

Public opinion, public scrutiny, and public pressure still matter greatly:

  • Get into the habit of telephoning your senators and House member at their local offices, especially if you live in a red state.
  • Press your senators to ensure that prosecutors and judges are chosen for their independence—and that their independence is protected.
  • Express your support and sympathy for journalists attacked by social-media trolls, especially women in journalism, so often the preferred targets.
  • Honor civil servants who are fired or forced to resign because they defied improper orders.
  • Keep close watch for signs of the rise of a culture of official impunity, in which friends and supporters of power-holders are allowed to flout rules that bind everyone else.

…the way that liberty must be defended is … with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered.

What happens next is up to you and me.

Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.’

*Read the article in its entirety here.

Learn more about David’s The Trump Effect talk and how his insights can set your organization up for future success by contacting us here.