The next three months will be full of speculation over how the November election will affect markets. I'm starting to wonder if it even will.
In some ways, this election is hugely consequential. Higher vs. lower taxes, "defund the police" vs. law and order, the selection of future Supreme Court justices, and so forth. It will be an epic clash between the more progressive versus the more conservative visions of America.
Or will it? Do Biden and Trump truly offer alternative paths for society, or are they flip sides of the same coin? I've been mulling the arguments of the political scientist Patrick Deneen, who writes that "the insistent demand that we choose between protection of individual liberty and expansion of State activity masks that the two grow constantly and necessarily together.
"Statism enables individualism," he writes, and "individualism demands statism. For all the claims about electoral transformation--for 'Hope and Change" or 'Making America Great Again'--two facts are naggingly apparent for those with eyes to see: America, like a ratchet-wrench that moves only in one direction, constantly becomes more individualist and more statist."
Why? Because our "purported choices between primary allegiance to the Market, on the one hand, and the State, on the other" disguises the fact that both actually "advance a basic commitment to depersonalization and abstraction." One via the Market, the other via the State, with both crowding out the former grounding institutions of the family and the local community with its rich life of associations.
It's the same problem that has been fingered by those, like economist Tyler Cowen, becoming disillusioned with America's meritocracy; it allows individual achievers dramatic success on a global scale, while robbing the communities they came from of their talents and making them more reliant on the state. It brings to mind Steve Case's "Rise of the Rest" venture capital fund, trying to spur start-ups from places other than New York City, Silicon Valley, and Boston. Perhaps he could simply pay the high achievers in those markets to move back home.
Back to the November election. In light of all this, is it any wonder the stock market barely moves in relation to whichever candidate becomes the front-runner? Or that it's shown little if any correlation in recent decades to the party in the White House? It might often feel like the stakes for the outcome this fall have never been higher, but perhaps they've actually never been lower.
So what's the real alternative? I doubt it's a national political party, although these themes are big planks of the American Solidarity Party. It would seem to be something much more mundane; millennials forming family units and working to rebuild the communities they live in. It's political in the Aristotelian sense.
See you at 1 p.m!
P.S. Apologies for the sporadic newsletters lately. I'm...busy rebuilding my community? Ha. I hope to be back to a more frequent pace soon. Thanks for bearing with me.