Does It Really Matter?

Todd Washburn |

Does It Really Matter?

Should we care who wins the presidential election in November? An interesting question.  Especially with the presumptive candidates now identified. It has been- is- an interesting election cycle. But I’m not here to deliver political commentary. You can get plenty of that elsewhere. But maybe we can narrow the initial question. From a financial standpoint, should we care who wins the presidential election?

     You never seem to know how someone will really govern once they take the oath of office.  It seems, to some degree, that the office changes the person some. They have to start looking at things in a much broader way- as it affects the country as a whole. Most politicians only have a limited constituency. But the President, no matter who voted for or against him/her, represents everyone. It may not always seem that way to each of us, but that’s the job description.

     This year will be tough to judge. We have a political novice and someone we’ve “known,” seemingly forever. At first glance it would seem easier to judge the likely actions of Clinton than those of Trump. But again, the office seems to change people. Trump is from the world of big business. But his message has been one of the “common-man”. But will he govern that way? Clinton has a strong history with minority voters and traditional Democratic issues- but also a strong connection to Wall Street.

     But maybe I’m already too far into the weeds. Does it really matter, to your long-term financial success, who is elected in 2016 as President of the United States? I’m leaning towards the Warren Buffett view. No. My investment/financial horizon isn’t 4 years, or even 8 (I actually hope it’s a LOT longer than either). The country doesn’t really run on 4 or 8 year cycles except for elections. I’m a long-term investor, as most likely are you. I’m looking 20, 30 or more years out. What a President Clinton or President Trump does may have some impact, but it won’t have as much impact as a lot of other things I will or won’t do. The President can set policy- but he/she can’t really implement it without the help of Congress. Executive Orders can do some things- but not everything. In the end, the country, the economy, and the people keep moving on and adjusting. It’s a big ship, and it takes a long time to turn- probably longer than 8 years.

     So the politics is interesting and probably very important for a number of social reasons. And it does have some importance in finances. But for long-term, patient investors it’s hard to see how the next administration- Republican or Democrat- will significantly alter the long-term trajectory of most American’s financial circumstances.