This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Dec. 23 at 7:42 a.m. EST.Last night, Jim Cramer wrote a column for RealMoney, expressing his view that a toothless Washington was great for stocks, and I agree. As I noted on The Edge for RealMoney Silver in early November, Beltway gridlock (and political stalemate) has likely contributed to the strength in equities. It is said that politicians campaign with poetry and govern with prose. Of late, in the process of making that transition from campaigning to governing, President Obama seems to have damaged his brand, the byproduct of which have been his declining popularity and a legislative logjam. We first saw this in the Democratic Party's loss of the New Jersey governorship, in which a 15-point Obama plurality in that state in the November 2008 election was turned into a 5% Republican Party victory for the newly elected Governor Christie. We now see it in the dilution of health care legislation. The ensuing political impasse, which followed a massive Democratic presidential victory 12 months ago, has likely been one of the contributing and underappreciated factors to the sharp ramp in the capital markets, which has been manifested in the recent strength in health care stocks. I disagree with Jim, however, that the standstill and the administration's low popularity level are a permanent condition as it is important to recognize the emergence of a very negative attitude toward wealth in our country. It remains my view that there will be a continued and growing schism between the haves (large businesses) and the have-nots (the average American consumer and small businesses). The more productive American industry is and the greater the perception that corporations are taking a larger piece of the profit pie from the average American, the more that will be asked from corporations and the wealthy.
Looking ahead, the Democratic Party will be the standard-bearer for those who feel like they are being oppressed, treated unfairly or believe that they are not getting their fair share. Indeed a tidal wave of populism in 2010 has weaved its way through many of my surprises for 2010 and is at the core of many of my concerns about the nontraditional headwinds (e.g., higher sales, state, local and federal tax rates) facing the domestic economy and the U.S. stock market. The effects of populism, in the year ahead, will be valuation-deflating. Doug Kass writes daily for RealMoney Silver , a premium bundle service from TheStreet.com. For a free trial to RealMoney Silver and exclusive access to Mr. Kass's daily trading diary, please click here.