COLUMN: Politicians hard to get elected

Tim Mak

Though one is a life-long Republican and the other a life-long Democrat, the two good friends and long-time business partners Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett share similar views on almost all political and social issues under the sun.

When it comes to social and political issues, they have strong views and they put their money behind political and social causes they support.

Because they are, in their own words, “independently and securely rich,” one would naturally assume such prominent leaders of society will at one point or another ponder running for high public office – like a four-year stint at the White House.

At least in Buffett’s case, he once seriously thought about running for president.

Problem is: He will never get elected. Why? Three reasons:

One, like Munger, Buffett is too bi-partisan. If you think Zell Miller or John McCain are bi-partisan, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Two, perhaps more forceful than the first, also like Munger, Buffett says and does things without checking the polls or popular thinking of the time. He just does and says what he thinks is right.

Three, probably the most potent of the three, again like Munger, Buffett’s views make sense.

Although it may sound mind-boggling to some, because these qualities generally fly well with a big portion of the general populace, being bi-partisan and having views that make sense to both sides of the aisle won’t get you past the extremely partisan primaries.

The turbo-charged grassroots (think of the ferociously anti-Wal-Mart unionists on the left and anti-abortion religious conservatives on the right) will kill these moderates before long. Given that the best any third party candidate has done in recent presidential elections is 19+ percent of the popular vote, I seriously doubt that Buffett will ever make it.

Arguably, all of their views make sense. Some are probably helpful to set the course for continued American dominance in the global economic stage.

For example, though a lifelong Democrat kind of guy, Buffett says he is a Republican on the production side and a Democrat on the distribution side.

Now I know both Republicans and Democrats will kick me for this (exactly the same reason Buffett won’t live in the White House anytime soon), but regardless of party affiliation, two things we must admit are: One, economic conservatives are very good (read “efficient”) at creating wealth, and two, social liberals are very good (read “generous”) at sharing wealth.

To make the economy and country strong, Buffett implies we should let them do their job. Each should be allowed to do what each does best.

The problem is, the two sides are ferociously fighting all over these, and we end up with half-measures on both fronts. The result: We have some inefficient people at the helms of some productive resources, and we have some conservatives at the distribution side refusing to give as much to the needy.

Fix this production-distribution problem, let the best run their show and we will have a win-win situation.

Tim Mak is a teaching fellow at the College of Business Administration and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].