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DAVOS, Switzerland — President Trump’s speech here at the World Economic Forum went over relatively well. That’s partly because Davos is a conclave of business executives, and they like Trump’s pro-business message. But mostly, the president’s reception was a testament to the fact that he and what he represents are no longer unusual or exceptional. Look around the world and you will see: Trump and Trumpism have become normalized.
Davos was once the place where countries clamored to demonstrate their commitment to opening up their economies and societies. After all, these forces were producing global growth and lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. Every year, a different nation would become the star of the forum, usually with a celebrated finance minister who was seen as the architect of a boom. The United States was the most energetic promoter of these twin ideas of economic openness and political freedom.
Today, Davos feels very different. Despite the fact that, throughout the world, growth remains solid and countries are moving ahead, the tenor of the times has changed. Where globalization was once the main topic, today it is the populist backlash to it. Where once there was a firm conviction about the way of the future, today there is uncertainty and unease.