Last week, I was sitting on the couch, goofing around on the computer, watching the primary results come in. Trump won Florida handily. Sanders wasn’t threatening to win this time, but the fact that we are even worried about this guy really speaks to the state of politics in 2016.
I’m going to roll back the clock to 1986, 30 years ago, when American politics was completely different. Remember? We used to complain that Democrats and Republicans were essentially indistinguishable. After all, they used to cross the aisle frequently to vote in favor of the other party’s legislation. I would characterize both parties in 1986 as fairly centrist.
I am a little bit nostalgic for those days.
The cool thing about the Internet is that you get to find out that most people are basically out of their minds. Spend much time on Facebook? You get political opinions on Facebook, for sure—extreme right and extreme left. The vast majority of my Facebook friends are either closet communists or nativist Trumpkins. Nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody in between.
When I was in my twenties, I thought being in between meant that you were a sellout, that if you really had any principles you would occupy an extreme position. For a period in my life, you could have called me a pretty extreme libertarian. I’ve come to view political polarization as not being a very good thing.
In the eyes of 2016 voters, this would make me “establishment,” but establishment versus anti-establishment is really just code for internecine class warfare. It’s poor Republicans versus rich Republicans, and poor Democrats versus rich ones.
The anti-elite sentiment is interesting, right? Because—paraphrasing a political analyst friend of mine—the notion that we would ever be governed by anyone other than our so-called elites would have been abhorrent to the Founding Fathers.
But existentially speaking, I’m starting to view moderation as a virtue. A moderate political environment is best for business and markets. For years, Dennis Gartman has said that a center-right government is best for markets. Center-left works, too, if taxes are reasonable and trade is free. But when you start talking about red reactionaries or blue reactionaries, people who want to halt trade and cut off America from the outside world, economists get worried.
Moderation is good in trading, too. It’s nice to get excited about trades. I get excited all the time. You can get too excited. I hear stories about people who go all-in on trades, 100% of the portfolio, and it always makes me shudder. I am just not that sure about anything. I am pretty sure about being short the Canadian dollar, and I have just taken a giant mark to market in the last two months.
I have a theory about polarization—the Internet enhances it.