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  • Richard Murff

Notes from a Mid-Term Hangover


Can't remember last night? Cheer up, nothing happened.

I have more faith in the invisible hand of the markets than I do in the American voter. True, they are roughly the same grumbling mass of people, but the market is the part of the electorate clever enough to make money, and then not talk about it. Red-wine fueled Thanksgiving brawls rarely break out over Vanguard Funds v. Spiders. Blue v. Red? Likely. Antifa v. MAGA? Definitely. If you live in a certain southern state, Alabama v. Auburn, but that’s another matter. The market may be excitable, but it is mostly rational people looking for a reasonable return on investment. Badly informed maybe, but relatively sane. They focus on the fundamentals.


The American voter, on the other hand, is taking orders from a gooey lump of fears, anxieties and family baggage. It confuses people. Badly.


The economy is a wreck, yes. Moscow’s live action game of Risk hasn’t done the world any favors, without a doubt. We can’t pin all our domestic woes on a war in a country most of us couldn’t point out on a map this time last year. It was the first hour of Biden’s presidency a solid year before Vlad’s Big Adventure in Ukraine, that the administration started handing out the cash like a divorced parent trying to outdo an ex-spouse in an already recovering economy via the American Rescue Plan Act. Uncle Joe was flooding the economy with dollars and giving a decent impression of Jimmy Carter while insisting that every economist of the 20th century was wrong – that a sudden increase in the money supply would not trigger inflation. Yet here we are, with the Fed is trying to snap the economy for our own good and in the midst the biggest mid-term election turn-out in history.


And the results of the turn-out? To look at it, not much. Stacy Abrams lost her bid for governor – again – but there’ll be no telling her that. The buzz is that she’ll move into the mansion anyway. Ron DeSantis won big in Florida and Donald Trump, by way of congratulations, I guess, openly resorted to blackmail to keep the man from the presidential bid he hasn’t announced.


So, what’s the QED here? Will the midterms divide power as advertised? Probably, but so what? That’s the way the voter likes it. The Democrats have held the holy trinity for two years and still haven’t managed to do anything. There hasn’t been a market bounce, in fact, it is edging lower in the face of Washington promising more of the same.


With all the advertised “energy” and “turn out” you’d at least think campaigns would throw better parties. I vaguely remember Reagan-era Republicans as being, well, more drunk than angry. At least fun. Now the bar serving overpriced hotel wine closes while you’re forced to listen to the same ass who’s been tearing up the airwaves for the last month. Which brings us back to the market, at my last Bond Outing, I was mainlining scotch and the invisible hand was ordering another round.


Which is as good a metaphor as any for the state of politics in this country. Although what we’d call that state in God’s own private mystery.


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