For more than two years, mainstream U.S. and European political leaders have experienced one, long bout of if-onlys — if only they had done this or that, Brexit and President Trump might not have slipped by.

  • But, gathered at Davos last week, members of the global elite told us that, even if Brexit were overturned in a second referendum and Trump defeated in 2020, they would change almost nothing in the big picture. As they told us in this video, the political and economic order would continue to unravel, and a new, as-yet unknown age continue to gestate and take shape.
"You would have people angry about the losses, and thinking that the elections are illegitimate. You would get potentially very divided politics going forward."
— Christopher Eisgruber, president of Princeton University

By comparison with such past such epochal transformations, this one is happening at lightning speed, we were told. The reason is technology, whose advances are a core reason for this dramatic shift.

  • Digitalization is speeding up everything, making us woozy and, often, unnerved.
  • That sensation underlies much of the angst felt in communities across the advanced economies, along with the political turbulence that flows from it.
  • Think of this: The American shift from an agrarian to an industrial society a century ago was hugely jarring, but occurred over 100 years or more. "The difference today is we're doing it over 10 years, 15 years, 20 years," said Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way Worldwide.
"The speed at which this change is happening is blowing people's minds. And the leaders — political leaders, business leaders — are having a hard time getting their heads wrapped around it.”
— Gallagher

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 19,680,042 — Total deaths: 727,777 — Total recoveries — 11,962,565Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,002,523 — Total deaths: 162,455 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Nancy Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on employment — Trump adviser Larry Kudlow says he regrets suggesting the benefits could only be extended by Congress.
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — Poll: 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Schools: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral — How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.