The Small Business Optimism Index hit an all-time high. That’s the new Presidential Approval Poll.
In olden days (pre-2016), candidates for president were not so different from each other. I can remember pundits complaining endlessly about how similar the Democrats and Republicans had become. In that environment, you can easily imagine someone who voted for Candidate A warming up to Candidate B. In those simpler times, a presidential approval poll meant something.
Today, a “presidential approval poll” is little more than taking attendance. If you’re a Democrat, you disapprove of President Trump as a lifestyle choice. If you voted for Trump, you probably still approve of him because you knew exactly what you were getting. And if you are an anti-Trump conservative, you allow cognitive dissonance to rule your brain and you say he’s doing a good job but you disapprove of him anyway. David Brooks accidentally described this phenomenon in this article.
I contend that business optimism — and small business optimism in particular — are the new standard for presidential approval because “economics” captures most of what a president influences.
If a president starts a war, or threatens to start one, the economy flinches.
If a president starts a trade war, or threatens one, the economy flinches.
If a president is tearing apart the fabric of civilization in one way or another, the economy collapses.
If a big terror attack succeeds on the homeland, the economy flinches.
If immigration is allowed in large numbers, the economy feels it.
I could go on. The point is that all of the “big” issues directly influence the economy via their impact on our psychology and our resources. In a free, capitalist country, “the economy” captures all the goodness and badness of a presidency without really trying. And the measure that best reflects the future of the economy, in my opinion, is small business optimism.
Big businesses can do fine with a president who promotes policies that favor big corporations, even if the rest of the country is suffering. But when small business owners are feeling good about the economy, that means the president is doing a more bottoms-up job of getting things right. President Trump has focused on bottoms-up economics from the start, meaning jobs and lessened regulations. Apparently that is working.
I have been telling you for two years straight that psychology drives the economy, and that a Master Persuader such as President Trump can directly influence psychology and optimism. We see him doing that right before our eyes.
At the same time President Trump is “talking up” our economy, he’s talking North Korea’s economy to ruin. If you own a company that is involved in smuggling with North Korea, you probably noticed that South Korea nabbed two tankers that satellite photos spotted cheating. That’s going to be a financial disaster for those shipping companies. The psychology of the corporations involved in smuggling just changed, courtesy of the Master Persuader who has no intention of taking his boot off the North Korean economy until they lose their nukes. This approach is already causing North Korea to get flexible, at least in the talking sense.
Keep in mind that all of the personality negatives that are reflected in the old-timey presidential approval polls are exactly what is scaring North Korea into the arms of “good cop” South Korea. President Trump’s tweets didn’t cause a war; they caused North Korean flexibility, exactly as I predicted.
And if you are still worried about President Trump’s mental health, I’ll do a Periscope later today to tell you how badly the media has abused the public on that topic. For a preview, check out this interview that Dr. Drew did with Dr. Bandy Lee on her opinions of President Trump’s mental health. The media reported her as saying he was mentally unfit. That wasn’t the case. She has no professional opinion on the President’s mental capacity because she has never met him. Her primary concern is about societal violence as a result of his presidency. That is completely different from what has been reported all week. I nominate this story for the Fake News Awards. I think it can be a finalist.
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