Nostalgia-fueled election presents opportunity to focus on future

This article was published in the December 2016 issue of STORES Magazine.

Matthew Shay

Matthew Shay

President-elect Donald Trump. Those are words even most Republicans never expected to hear heading into last month’s election. Almost every major poll showed Hillary Clinton as the most-likely winner. Even Trump himself had said the election was “rigged” against him. Yet the self-proclaimed political outsider won a clear Electoral College victory over the Washington veteran and will become our nation’s 45th president.

What does this mean for retailers? There are some things we don’t like on the Trump agenda. He adamantly opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, wants “huge” tariffs on imports from China and plans to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement. As an industry that relies heavily on imports to provide Americans with products they need at prices they can afford, we respectfully disagree. Our nation needs to be tearing down trade barriers, not erecting new ones.

Trump is also expected to support the Financial Choice Act, which would roll back a wide range of banking regulations. That isn’t retailers’ battle, but the legislation includes a provision to repeal the Federal Reserve’s cap on debit card swipe fees — one of our biggest victories in years and not one we will hand back without a fight.

But there are other issues where we agree. Trump has pledged to rebuild crumbling infrastructure that creates bottlenecks for the retail supply chain, one of our biggest priorities. He plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which includes a job-killing “employer mandate” for health care coverage NRF has opposed ever since it was passed. And he has made a priority of comprehensive tax reform, another retail priority.

With those topics on the agenda and more to come, the next few months will offer many opportunities for retailers to educate the White House and Congress on our goals, particularly policies that create jobs and reward investment. If this election taught us anything, it is the importance of focusing on policies and programs that benefit not only today’s economy but the economy of the future.

For many Americans — disappointed Clinton supporters along with Trump backers who were told they couldn’t win — the election results were a shock. But we should all recognize that the nation has endured shocks to its system before, and that for more than 200 years it has always endured, prospered, thrived and remained the destination for those seeking better lives for themselves and their families. While much of the campaign rhetoric was about nostalgia for the past, America is and will remain a country focused on the future.

At NRF, we will continue to provide the same influential leadership and unwavering voice for the retail industry on the issues that matter most to all of us — job creation, economic growth and a better life for all Americans. The election may have been a surprise, but the future of our country is not in doubt. America will persevere, and so will NRF.