Politically speaking, I’m agnostic. Both parties do a great job of making fools of themselves and I do my best to ignore it to maintain sanity. That’s not to say they don’t have a decent idea now and then, but it happens so rarely of late it’s really not worth spending much energy on it.
Really, it’s mentally exhausting. Emotionally, it must be a nightmare and it defies common sense. And yet people still get emotionally attached.
But this is not a political post.
Rather, politics is a perfect example of people becoming married to ideas that aren’t likely to happen – where “being right” is more important than reason.
Those who separate what they want to happen from what is most likely to happen have an advantage.
The rest become embroiled in fantasy politics, otherwise known as the primaries, then repeat it with the general election. A good number of those people are destined to be heartbroken in June and again in November because they refuse to bow to common sense or actual facts or a teensy bit of skepticism.
Politics has always been about solution selling – to pain points or wants and needs – in exchange for our vote. Often times they fudge the truth, create a problem out of thin air, then sell their solution.
When was the last time a politician won trying to sell this: “I want X, but they want Y, so we’re gonna meet in the middle. You won’t like the outcome but you won’t hate it either. And hey, we all win.” Who would vote for that pile of truth?
Instead, they tell us what we want to hear, hoping we latch onto it:
- I’ll lower taxes
- I’ll build a wall
- I’ll fix the economy
- I’ll make pigs fly
And somehow it works. “Flying pigs!!! Got my vote.” Then, out of the blue, a few swear allegiance to a candidate over flying pigs.
As I said earlier, there’s a difference between what you want to happen or expect to happen versus what is most likely to happen. Most people eventually come around to accept this.
Here’s where it goes wrong. Some people refuse to see it and defend their stance to the death, it seems, by dismissing overwhelming evidence to the contrary as blatantly false. Being open-minded, apparently, is not allowed.
We saw this four years ago from a small group of Romney fanatics who refused to believe he could lose because their data showed otherwise.
Of course, this mentality extends beyond politics. You see it with discussions on sports, anything about the Fed or economy, vaccinations, gold as an “investment”, and the list goes on…and on…
Social media is the ultimate enabler of this groupthink dynamic since it allows us to follow like-minded people who share similar views and block out the rest. Who needs differing viewpoints when we can filter out every flashy headline that disagrees with us and tilt the “truth” to our liking.
Do this long enough, especially with financial decisions, and it’s almost certain to be costly. Sure, unlikely things happen from time to time, but over long periods what probably will happen, happens, because that’s how probabilities work.
- The Anti-Reading List – M. Housel
- Nothing Snowballs Online Like Fear – Nautilus
- The Psychology of the Breathtakingly Stupid Mistake – Scientific American
- Gold And Asset Allocation – PF Engineer
- The Great Investment Advice Hidden in Warren Buffett’s Annual Letter – J. Brown
- Growth is Not “Not Value” – Newfound Research
- EM Looks Terrible—Time To Buy – L. Swedroe
- It’s Not Your Father’s Globalization Anymore – J. Manyika
- The Next Amazon (Or Apple, Or GE) Is Probably Failing Right Now – FiveThirtyEight
- Jamie Dimon on Finance: ‘Who Owns the Future? – Bloomberg
- Astronaut Chris Hadfield on How Failing Can Motivate – Red Bulletin
- Get Your Taxes Done Early and Save with TurboTax