The world is an ever-more interconnected, globalist place and that is not about to change.
What is frightening is the number of people who believe that these irreversible trends can be reversed, and who are willing to risk economic ruin to do it.
I am not a politician, nor do I ever intend to be one. As such, I feel free to call it like it is and write what I think, without fear that someone will throw it back at me someday. But I also represent the complex combination of influences and belief systems that make up many of my colleagues, which I would define as the millennial, technology-friendly business class that is, and will be, behind much of globe's real economic growth.
We are globalist, proud citizens of our countries. We are avowed capitalists, yet we believe in social capitalism and driving real growth and innovation by creating new and dynamic companies, rather than relying on financial engineering, tax inversions, and funky accounting. We are immigrant-friendly and believers in the Statue of Liberty's pledge to take in the huddled masses, and we embrace socially conscious citizenry and personal human rights.
Yet, as we look around, we are surrounded by ever more drives toward nativist sentiment. Brexit, Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, was a huge wakeup call. The current U.S. presidential campaign vexes and perplexes many of us; forcing many who have been business-friendly and centrist in the past to embrace campaigns of the hard-left because only the left's platform and representatives embrace our views on human rights, individual choice, and global responsibility on matters such as climate change and asylum from war.
We work in many of the world's economic and cultural nerve centers: New York, London, San Francisco, Paris. We know that what has driven the world's explosive growth in terms of both economic and human potential over the past 30 years has been the combination of increased education, interconnectedness of our informed citizenry, and vast improvements in technology and global access.
We understand why these trends have been so crucially important and why they underpin our success, and we can articulate it - in dry factual terms at least. Yet, we are watching as that vision is increasingly inverting on itself; cowed by nativist forces flourishing despite all the evidence that such approaches do not work, have never worked, and will not work in the future.
We are struggling for answers as to why this is the case and how we, as the rising generation of a global future, can reverse it.
As best I can call it, the answer lies in a combination of education, access, and media independence. Together, these three factors form a 'solution tree' to our global nativism.
Education is the root. Countless studies show that it is nearly impossible to achieve success in an ever more globalizing economy without education. Yet, we cannot over-simplify this point. Education is not just liberal arts and elite colleges, though that plays a part, it is also specialized education in critical needed fields of the future to provide the skills for employment for people who will be left behind without it.
If, for example, robots and cheap foreign laborers are combining to replace factory floor jobs in your industry, the solution isn't to ban robots and tax foreigners, it is to train domestic labor to manage the robots and perform higher - and better paid - tasks higher on the product creation food chain.
Access is the stem. Education is the root everyone will need to flourish but it does little good without access. This is where nativism does the most harm. Our society needs better and more access - not less - to the best talent from everywhere. This talent historically has played a key role in enhancing society and also benefiting the growth of domestic talent and education - not the opposite.
If, for example, you create a strong new technology startup, foreign engineers will undoubtedly play a critical role in its evolution. If that startup creates thousands of good positions that didn't exist before, educated domestic labor will benefit.
Media independence is the leaves. Right now, our societies are hostage to fear. Fear driven by a click-bait focused, opinion-driven, argumentative media that is distrusted because it is has abandoned its sacred trust as the fourth estate to provide the public true and verified information with which to make informed and educated decisions without fear.
Without that access to information, people cannot make educated decisions, and they will make mistakes that they come to regret - perhaps even days later, as happened with Brexit. Yet, many of these mistakes will be irreversible, and may eventually be enough to destroy the democratic experiment in our societies.