Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s mercy he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Hulloa boys, Hulloa boys, let the bells ring.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, God save the King!
–Traditional English nursery rhyme
It doesn’t get much press on this side of the Atlantic, but it should. Today, November 5, is Guy Fawkes Day, the day that the English remember one of their most notorious villains or one of their most celebrated heroes, depending on their mood or ideological leaning.
On this day in 1605 Fawkes, a disgruntled religious minority tired of official abuse, attempted to take down the entire English government—king, ministers, parliament and all—by blowing up the House of Lords with a large cache of gunpowder during the State Opening of Parliament.
Fawkes was discovered and promptly executed, but he is remembered—in typically dry English humor—as the last man to enter parliament with honest intentions.
Today in America, we’re getting ready to enter a year of heavy campaigning for the presidency. As things are shaping up, we may have our choice between two very unlikeable people: Mr. Donald Trump—an obnoxious reality-show-loving narcissist with bad hair—and Mrs. Hillary Clinton—a frumpy ice queen tainted by decades of political scandal and questionable decisions.
The thought of either of these people occupying the Oval Office makes me wonder if absolute monarchy might actually be the better form of government after all. If this is what democracy gets us…
Tonight, pour yourself a drink and offer a toast across the Atlantic. Wear a Guy Fawkes mask if you feel like it, or burn a Guy effigy or the effigy of whatever politician irritates you the most. But tomorrow, tune out the political noise, roll up your sleeves, and focus on your investing.
Charles Lewis Sizemore, CFA, is chief investment officer of the investment firm Sizemore Capital Management and the author of the Sizemore Insights blog.