Every four years I make a blog post about who I am going to vote in for president. I do this mostly for myself and my kids- I want them to understand who gets my vote and why. I want them to understand my morals, my beliefs, and believe that our votes matters, not because my one vote will tip any scales, but it will define what I believe in and who I want to lead me to get there.
2020 is a re-election year. In re-election years the decision becomes more of a referendum on the incumbent. From that lens Trump has accomplished some amazing things:
-On the economy this is the best financial backdrop to do business for corporate America ever, and I mean ever. The cost to borrow and build a business has never been lower. Each week I get unsolicited mailings offering $200,000 or more of business working capital. 10-year rates are at 0.6%. The stock market has about doubled in just four years (the S&P 500 on the night Trump was elected traded at 2,000. Today it trades at 3,300. The advancement in the NASDAQ-100 is much more profound, QQQ traded at 110 in November 2016, it was been as high as 303 just this month (September 2020). Trump has fought hard for small manufacturing business and US materials companies with great success. He has had a strategy from day 1 – that was to put America first, and a good leader sets a vision that everyone can get behind and drives the execution of that vision. On that scale Trump scores well. I very much applaud him for easing the corporate foreign tax repatriation and brining money back into the US.
However if you look more closely, the advances in the stock market have all been in MAGA – Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple – not make America great again. In fact, the sectors and industries Trump champions are down in the dumps. Ford trades at $7 (vs $12 when Trump was elected), GE trades at $7 (vs $30 when Trump was elected). The pattern holds for 3M, GM, Goodyear, on and on. No matter how much he wants to champion the industrial Midwest, I am afraid that part of American history is simply dead, and no one has the ability to create demand there, no matter how much they try.
-On foreign affairs Trump has accomplished amazing things in that arena as well. The UAE and Bahrain have both signed peace agreements with Israel. Saudi Arabia may be next. A Saudi-Israel peace deal will drive peace and stability for the world. The critics said “Don’t antagonize the middle east by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Trump did not listen, he trusted his head and his gut, and the region is more stable than it was before. Trump drone-strike-killed (call it what it is-extrajudicial political assassination) Qasem Soleimani, a person akin to the vice-president of Iran. I never heard of the man and I thought his drone strike assassination would lead to full blown war between the US and Iran. That did not happen. The Palestinians, who have all along been the rogue actors in the region, have been marginalized and accepted universally for the bad actors they are. That is a significant development that will lead to peace. Relations with North Korea, something way beyond belief, have happened. There is no way any of this would have happened under a Hillary Clinton administration, and no way this will happen under a Joe Biden administration. Heck Joe Biden voted to not go after Osama Bin Laden! Biden was afraid of military operations on Afghanistan soil. It is hard for me to cast Biden as anything other than a weakling who does not want to upset anyone. Thank goodness Obama did not listen to him there. Biden to me seems like he is the poster child fanboy for today’s millennial generation who are scared stiff to be called or thought of as racist, sexist, or any other -ist. An apologist, someone who is meek, someone who does not make you believe America is the greatest country on Earth, rather some bad plague that needs to be conformed into submission of “everyone is good, even the lost souls burning Portland and Seattle are somehow always worthy of respect and having their viewpoint heard.”
-On China and trade I disagree with Trump’s protectionism, but I give him credit for creating a tough issue and tackling it head on. No one was talking about US-China forced tech transfer before 2016.
-On other issues, like climate change and COIVD- I happen to agree with Trump. I’m glad we withdrew from the Paris climate accords, and I support cutting off funding to WHO. We can’t blindly go with the crowds here because it is the easiest political thing to do while making us feel like good citizens – we have to ask if we are getting value for our investment and in places we are not holding people accountable and demanding change. Trump does that. I find it ridiculous that the governor of Washington State is blaming his state’s forest fires on climate change. This is 2020 where literally we shut down the entire globe over the Spring and Summer. I know we did not do that for climate change, but if that is not good enough to appease the green people what possibly will? They will never be happy, they will never lead. They will always just complain. To me they sound like a noisy going that should have no credibility and no standing.
So overall, I give Trump all the credit in the world for all his actions. His policy and actions have been far, far better than I could have ever imagined.
But is that what I want in a president? A man of results, who views the world in terms of winners and losers?
Trumps silence on black lives matter is troubling to me. In my own neighborhood there are moms teaching their adolescent black sons to be home at dark, how to deal with police, teachers, society in general. That is not OK. A generation is teaching their (black) kids, how to live and grow up in fear. That fear is very, very real. That is abhorrent.
I don’t believe Trump is a racist – he has given many prominent jobs to black people, including winners on the apprentice. However, his silence is problematic. I never saw Trump call the George Floyd killing murder. He took one year to acknowledge Charlottesville white supremacist as a murder. This is just too slow, unacceptable. To be fair, I am leery of black lives matter, because it is divisive – but there are some simple steps he can take to make the mom of a black kid feel more at ease, and his inability to do that is a voting problem for me.
The police in this country are underpaid and teachers are badly underpaid. Trump and Betsy DeVos are so right on school choice and democrats are so badly wrong. As much as I would like to vote issue by issue, I can’t.
Trump’s need for his own ego, his boundless narcissism, is ridiculous. I contrast that and think about Ronald Reagan’s self-deprecation. Humor is one of 5 essential characteristics of leadership. Trump has none of that. It is a killing character flaw.
To my vote, it is not about what is best for our economy, my job, or my pocketbook this time. It is about the soul of this nation. I don’t want a Faustian bargain. Trump claims to have done more for black people than anyone since Lincoln. Just because black unemployment is lower in 2019 than it was in 2015 does not mean Trump deserves praise. It’s like a person that abuses you and then throws a $100 bill in your face and expects you to take it and be grateful. That crap just does not fly with me.
Yes, I readily acknowledge things may get worse under Biden. With tax rates ready to soar and big government (the current thinking is there will be a $3 trillion democratic coronavirus bailout), it is totally possible that inflation could come back, the stock market could tank, jobs could be lost, etc.
In 2020 I’m not voting for my pocketbook or my standard of living – I’m voting for my soul, that’s why I’m voting Joe Biden.