The integrity of our democracy, we have been reminded recently, depends on an orderly transfer of power from elected leader to elected leader.
But the auto industry will struggle to find any semblance of order in the results of last week's election.
For more than two decades, the auto industry has been on a one-way track toward increased globalization. Engineering and design talent flows seamlessly across borders and oceans, from Thailand to Tennessee. U.S.-built vehicles are exported around the world, bearing the badges of Ford and Chevrolet, but also Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. All-American Buicks and Swedish Volvos roll off assembly lines in China and onto freighters bound for the U.S. Japanese-branded Camrys and Civics fan out from Kentucky and Indiana, while Ford Fusions roll in from Sonora, the Mexican state just south of Arizona.
This is the world order that the industry celebrates, a fine-tuned global machine of workers, parts, robots and factories, working almost silently to crank out cars by the millions for consumers all over the world and billions of dollars in profits for the companies that build them. Isn't it an industrial marvel?
Yes, but the relentless pursuit of order and efficiency on a global scale has left a good deal of chaos in its wake: shuttered factories, job losses, underemployment, blight, income insecurity -- and just plain insecurity. This, too, is the legacy of globalization, and it's a big reason why Donald Trump swept the industrial heartland last week.
But no matter the voters' verdict, the industry can't afford to turn back. After all, it has billions of dollars in investments and fixed assets deployed to suit this world order.
Its options now are to suffer the protectionist impulses of Trump or try belatedly to do what it has failed to do time and time again: articulate and communicate a persuasive case for globalization and its benefits to the American public -- and ensure those promised benefits are delivered in time for the next election.