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Politics, Personalities and Policies

"Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong." - Richard Armour


Politics, Personalities and Policies

Unless something miraculous happens, we will have a new President of the United States come January 20th 2021. 

Donald Trump and his supporters have thrown a Hail Mary pass by filing legal challenges in several states that they contend were fraught with irregularities. Their lawsuits allege a number of issues – including state court meddling in a process which is designated by the constitution to state legislatures, faulty election software, backdating of ballots and brazen ballot stuffing. 

In addition, if you weren’t watching, you would have missed that control of the US Senate is still up for grabs.  Georgia’s unique law requires a 50%+ majority to win the state’s senate races and both seats were below the threshold. The runoffs are scheduled for January 5, 2021 and given the stakes (senate control for the party who wins), these races will likely be the most expensive and bitterly contested senate seats on record. 

This has been a presidential election like no other, in a year like no other. Between Covid-19, social unrest and a bitterly divided electorate, New Years’ parties will joyously “ring out the old” as the clock strikes midnight on 2020 – just in time for the Georgia run-off for control of the senate! 

President Trump’s personality has been front and center of this election. He is likely the most polarizing political figure in the United States in most people’s lifetime. Unlike past Presidents who preferred communication through more traditional, official means – Trump has taken to Twitter to regularly communicate.  His intemperate, sometimes emotionally driven knee-jerk use of this platform has offended many of his opponents – who themselves have used social media to rally the troops against a President they loathe. 

Personality aside, Trump’s policies have not matched the media’s narrative of his rhetoric. Yes, he alienated some allies by his brusque personality and demands for them to meet previous commitments. He also took aim at China for their blatant and consistent stealing of American intellectual property and manipulation of currency – but this is far from radical. He also was able to enact tax legislation that reduced taxes for the vast majority of Americans.  While his nomination of judges and judges raised the ire of his opponents – he was clearly within the constitutional framework to make the appointments.  While he was polarizing in personality – policy was not far from the standard Republican playbook. 

What now? 

Trump has thrown a Hail Mary - and it’s worthwhile to consider that Hail Mary’s are thrown because occasionally they are caught! I was surprised to see yesterday that PredicIt (a platform for betting on political results online) still showed between a 12-16% possibility that Trump would win. Since the winner is the person who is “certified” by individual states as the winner and that has not yet occurred – there is still some uncertainty of how and when that will take place. Certainly, that is not the narrative that the media would have us believe and if Trump somehow becomes the winner - the social unrest that such an event would produce would likely make this summer’s riots pale by comparison. 

I’m not a political pundit and am paid to help people navigate cash flows in retirement. Usually, I encourage clients to completely ignore elections in their investing. This time around I will provide the same advice – with one important caveat: I think it’s wise to prepare for potential political and economic chaos if the unlikely actually occurs. The tools for protection are alternative currencies (gold, silver, crypto) - best employed in moderation by the individual investor with some implementation help by an experienced advisor.