It’s overheating the 24-hour news cycle engine. It’s fueling the debate at dinner tables. It’s stirring up controversies about the future of the free world. But what does it mean for organizations in the convention and trade show industry?
“It” refers to the 2016 race for the White House — a contest that has included investigations into email servers, plagiarized keynote speeches, an ousted chairperson of one of the country’s major political parties, a rotating cast of campaign managers, abysmal polls on each candidate’s likability and many more surprises. At the 2016 CEIR Predict Conference from September 14—15, the next President of the United States was a hot topic. Hosted in Washington, DC at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the nation’s capital provided a fitting backdrop for the CEIR community to discuss how each candidate might impact the economy and how that impact may trickle down to convention organizers, business events strategists and trade show professionals.
In an opening session that offered a big-picture view of potential risks for the global economy, keynote speaker Dan Altman, Economist, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business, offered a simple view of his thoughts on the candidates. “A Trump Presidency brings some uncertainty because he has the more radical agenda,” Altman said. “With a Clinton Presidency, you kind of know what you’re getting. I don’t think she has any major regulatory items on her agenda.”
Regardless of who is elected in November, Chad Moutray, Chief Economist, National Association of Manufacturers, and Bob Costello, Chief Economist and SVP, American Trucking Association, shared concerns over the voices opposed to open trade policies that have risen throughout this election cycle. “The bigger worry is that there is an isolationist sentiment that could be very dangerous for our economy,” Moutray said.
Costello echoed this worry and highlighted that ATA is making an effort to spread the word about the value of existing trade relationships. For example, the association published a paper expressing support for the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement — an agreement that has come under scrutiny in some debates this year. Moutray also voiced support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is one of the few issues where the candidates seem to agree; both Trump or Clinton have voiced opposition to the TPP.
Preparing For What’s Next — Whatever That May Be
Neither Costello or Moutray indicated whether their associations supported a particular candidate. Like many average Americans, it seemed that each found reasons to question some plans from both candidates. However, they recognize that, no matter who is in office, they’ll need to be ready to make sure they can represent the interests of their members. With that in mind, each association has met with transition teams for both Trump and Clinton. In addition to having conversations with representatives of the next potential leader of the country, both associations offer online resources designed to help their members understand the issues at stake and empower them to make their voices heard. NAM’s Election Center is particularly impressive. From a designated hashtag (#MFGVoter) to voter registration to easy-to-understand infographics, the association clearly makes educating their members a top priority. Click here to tour the full Election Center.
How could your organization’s members be affected by the outcome of the election in November? What kind of resources are you offering them to help them understand how Presidential and Congressional candidates’ attitudes and voting records might help or hurt them if elected? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts.