Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Opinion | Saving liberalism from so-called liberals

When the world goes down, the bizarre 'liberal' cult of the illiberal gang will go down too. That is the only thing worth looking forward to

I have been thinking about how I would say what I wish to say in this column. I concluded that I cannot and should not finesse my message. The stupidity, the arrogance, the intolerance and the undemocratic attitude of the self-appointed guardian angels of American democracy, constitutional propriety and liberal values pose the greatest danger to the social and economic stability of not just America but the rest of the world too.

Let us consider the facts. It is more than a year since the special counsel began his investigation into the alleged interference of Russia and its collusion with Donald Trump to get him elected. He has nothing to show for his efforts. What we have learnt in the last week is that Trump might have paid off two women not to talk about the affairs he had with them. This may or may not be a violation of campaign finance laws. After all, money is fungible. It is a matter of marital fealty between a husband and his wife. So far, nothing in these revelations demands either his impeachment or his removal from office.

However, you could be forgiven for thinking that President Trump might have irreparably harmed the interests of America while in office, if all you did was peruse media headlines. Someone is writing about God’s presidential plans for Michael Pence. Another one thinks congress would be remiss in not removing Trump from office for his unwillingness to uphold the Constitution. Another newspaper is ecstatic that Trump’s lawyer is “singing".

There is much feigning of concern over the democratic malaise in the West. The democratic malaise in the West can be fixed if the diminishing life expectancy in Britain is not attributed to Brexit, for which a record number of Britons—the highest ever in history for a proposition—voted in favour. Do their arrogance and ignorance feed off each other? Democratic malaise can be fixed if democracy is respected.

A democratic and Democrats-led government allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to interfere in the election process, authorized snooping on a candidate, and the government used a dubious dossier sponsored by a political party to justify that snooping. If “elites" do protest loudly and incessantly at such abuse of power and do not stop until the guilty are punished, then the democratic malaise can be fixed. Double standards are illiberal, arrogant, undemocratic and unfair. Liberalism has to be saved from hypocrites masquerading as liberals. If they succeed in removing Trump from office, they will live to regret what they would unleash. They should know what lies in store but they don’t—or they don’t care. They are in thrall of their arrogance and hatred towards Trump. In short, they are deluded. Their dogged determination to disregard evidence that is not in their favour is a sight to behold.

Sweden goes to the polls on 9 September. The Social Democrats are in danger of losing power and recording the lowest share of votes in a century. This is a country whose people wore their social democracy values proudly on their sleeves. The reality is very different today. The reasons are not hard to seek. The Social Democrats have been out of touch with the concerns of the average Swede. Worse, they still do not seem to get it. This and much more lie in store for America if Trump is eased out of office not through the ballot but through devious machinations and skulduggery. The resultant consequences will outlast Trump by a generation or two.

The stupidity of Trump’s critics comes through rather clearly in the fact that he is copping a fraction of the criticism that he gets for his other actions, for his unjustified clamour for low interest rates. If anything, they are with President Trump in his unreasonable demand for low interest rates. The economy is in its 10th year of expansion and signs of financial excesses abound. Late into the cycle, American banks and other financial institutions are ramping up personal loans. According to The Wall Street Journal, “in the first half of this year, lenders mailed a record 1.26 billion solicitations for these loans. Last year, more than 1.5 million personal loans were given to people with credit scores below 601, on a scale that tops out at 850, according to TransUnion. That is the highest number in more than a decade." Almost half the personal loans are to people with a score below 600.

In his speech at the Jackson Hole Symposium last week, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell noted correctly that “in the run-up to the past two recessions, destabilizing excesses appeared mainly in financial markets rather than in inflation. Thus, risk management suggests looking beyond inflation for signs of excesses." Yet, he said that the Federal Reserve would do whatever it takes should inflation expectations rise materially higher or if a crisis struck. Absent was a determination to do what it takes to avoid financial excesses that were pervasive in the run-up to the last two recessions and are amply in evidence at the current late stage of the economic cycle.

America and the world should worry about the unrepentant monetary policy framework of the Federal Reserve and President Trump’s demand that it stick to it. Instead, its elites are obsessing over the hush money paid by a real estate baron and the host of a reality television show. Perhaps, they are beyond redemption. When the world goes down, the bizarre “liberal" cult of the illiberal gang will go down too. That is the only thing worth looking forward to.

V. Anantha Nageswaran is an independent consultant based in Singapore. He blogs regularly at Thegoldstandardsite.wordpress.com. Read Anantha’s Mint columns at www.livemint.com/baretalk

Comments are welcome at baretalk@livemint.com

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