Nov 4, 2022
There are decisions we make daily that have little impact beyond our own lives. What to have for breakfast. What clothes to wear today. What music to listen to. Then there are decisions that affect larger audiences. In the corporate and political world, the butterfly effect of those decisions can have an exponential impact. Legislation, layoffs, etc. are but a few examples. Grappling with the right answers to these decisions is secondary to first deciding who should be making the decisions to begin with.
In the world of politics, we have elections. We have an opportunity to put people in a decision-making position with whom we think will best represent our interests. Certainly not everyone agrees on issues; however, those elected to make the tough calls were put there by a majority of the people. And until recently, we trusted the process of elections.
It was a delicate system from the onset. Our country is roughly split between political parties and that means a good portion of the population will feel under-represented at times. Still, we have always agreed that the foundation of having our beliefs represented via elections was a fair means of representing the majority. The model was built on trust. We trust our votes to matter, and the outcome of those votes will result in the person receiving the most votes to win.
In a sense, elections and markets are very similar. If you or I buy one hundred shares of stock and receive confirmation the trade was executed, we trust the counterparty in our exchange to deliver us those shares. Both the trust of shares being delivered and the trust that the person getting the most votes will win an election are predicated on the intangible nature of faith and honesty.
If our counterparty doesn’t deliver our stock, we lose faith in the system and markets subsequently become unsustainable. Similarly, if we lose faith in the electoral process, how can we be expected to have faith in the outcomes and subsequent decisions of those elected?
Deciding who decides is not an issue that gets much attention until the entire system is being questioned. Unfortunately, once we start down the path of being skeptical of the process, it’s hard to not completely go down the rabbit hole.
We often forget how aligned our interests actually are. Sure, our respective paths toward the same outcome might vary but if we sacrifice our shared outcome desire in the name of distrust in the process, are we not just shooting off our nose to spite our face?
Anointing anyone to represent our interests and make decisions on our behalf will always be a fragile process. The irony; however, is the strength of the process rests within its fragility. Losing faith in the system means we lose faith in both the decisions being made, who makes them and very quickly the entire system falls apart. Should that happen, the consequences become much more dire.
Whether it’s political decisions or Elon Musk creating a board to oversee content on Twitter, our system of democracy and capitalism is never smooth sailing. Sometimes, we get it wrong and need to correct our course. But those same systems are what have led to our prosperity. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of that from time to time.
Special Projects writer Josh Fabian contributed to this article.
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