Volume 92 No. 1 - January 2021
While many of us will happily put 2020 in the rear-view mirror, the start of a new year remains a good time to review where we are and where we are going. There’s no doubt that 2020 will survive in our memories as the year of COVID, facemasks, and—for many—economic, financial, and political uncertainty. However, it’s also important to consider if any good has come out of the pandemic, and what that means for 2021 and beyond.
Where We Stand Right Now
The year 2020 highlighted the political divide that has developed within the United States. At this point, nearly everyone agrees our primary priority is to address and overcome the pandemic, but, beyond that, priorities diverge when Americans are asked where we should invest our efforts as a nation as we move beyond the pandemic.
Predictably, these differences follow party lines, according to recent research by the Pew Research Center. While Democrats remain more committed to issues like the affordability of healthcare, racial and economic inequality, and climate change, Republicans cite the economy, addressing violent crime, and immigration reform as the nation’s most pressing issues.
Even when it comes to the current state of our country, Republicans and Democrats do not see through the same lens. Post-election research conducted by SurveyMonkey showed that President-elect Biden’s win greatly improved Democrats’ views that they would be “better off financially a year from now.” That same research found that Republicans who expected “periods of widespread unemployment or depression” in the next few years increased from 28% in October to 73% post-election.
Moving beyond the pandemic and its sharp divisions will require that the US focus less on what divides us and more on what unites us. That will be the straightest path back to a prosperous and peaceful economy.
While no political candidate, economic philosophy, or political stance will receive unanimous support, the strength of the United States is that we have built a government and governing system that addresses and supports differences of opinion.
As Americans, while we may not find agreement on the divisive issues at the state, national, and international levels, a September poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of FixUS found that we have much higher levels of agreement at the individual, family, and community levels.
This survey found that the vast majority of Americans consider individual values like honesty (90%), work ethic (83%), and independence (80%) extremely or very important. For their families and communities, Americans consistently rank good health (80%), financial security (74%), and loving relationships within their homes (67%) as top goals. At the national level, Americans—regardless of political party—overwhelmingly support free speech (81%), equal justice under the law (80%), and ensuring that everyone is given the chance to succeed (80%).
This shows that in the end, whatever the politics are at the top, it’s the pain at the individual, family, and community levels that we must face. We can find common ground on issues like defeating COVID and restoring the economy. To get there, though, we need to put aside the most divisive issues, at least for now.
We do not need everyone to accept our worldview before we can join together to work on the world.
In Confronting a Common Enemy, We Find Strength
Facing a common enemy like COVID-19 gives us a chance to bring America back to its core values, on which we, as a nation, mostly agree. Uniting against our common enemies and dropping the “us vs. them” mentality within our country will help our nation unite instead of working as two teams, simultaneously but in parallel, and sometimes against each other.
In the 1960s—despite the turbulence in that era, America united under the biggest accomplishment of the time, the moon landing in July 1969. Today, America needs to embrace a new goal to unite us, and that goal is defeating COVID-19 and getting beyond the pandemic.
Americans are divided on many of our stances and political views, but we remain united on many core beliefs. That contributes to the understanding that can work as our starting point, to find common ground, and focus on the future we all share. United, we can forge a better future—economically, socially, and beyond—if we find the patience to work with one another long enough to realize that we’re not so different after all.
By coming together, we make a stronger nation and a stronger future for everyone.
Our job at Investment Counsel is to focus on how to best invest your portfolio. Historically, the markets have performed worst when major political, economic or financial issues are discovered and the scope or resolution to the challenge is unknown. However, as resolutions to these unknowns are presented, the markets are at their best. As a country, we must agree to first, focus on overcoming the pandemic, then promote the values we all agree upon. We can support leaders on all sides that promote progress rather than division. This will allow us a country to prosper, as well as the financial markets. This is where the real work begins.
Happy New Year!
Investment Counsel Inc. is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered specific investment advice, does not take into consideration your specific situation, and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any securities or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and are not guaranteed. Be sure to consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein.