Where Did Economic Liberalism Go in US?

Childe Hassam: The Fourth of July, 1916 // Public domain

The 2020 election in the United States had been a very rough affair not just throughout the campaign, but sadly also in the aftermath of getting a result and all the way to the results of the Senate elections in Georgia. The socially liberal camp around the world, including much of the European liberals, have been celebrating this turning of the tides, even though it comes at a cost of further polarisation of the society in the US and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Donald Trump has gathered more votes from the minorities (in absolute numbers and proportions) than any Republican candidate in recent times and his administration has not been regressive towards minorities as it was expected at the start of his presidency.

Rather, his presidency has witnessed on one hand the strengthening of the radical left within the Democratic party, while his own party has revolved almost entirely around the president’s economic agenda, whose record is solid in some areas, but questionable in others.

This meant that unlike in the previous elections liberals in Europe were torn between two choices, both of them drifting from their recent positions. Democrats becoming economically unbearable, with Republicans following their lead in terms of the deficits and spending, while both parties becoming accepting of social liberties.

Within this it is necessary to remind ourselves about the Trump’s achievements in terms of his economic record. He managed to lower the taxes across the income brackets, followed strict approach of de-regulation of the business in the era, where they were facing increasing difficulties not just in the US, but across the Western world.

His policies within education and other key areas followed the principle of consumer choice and empowerment. Even more so, the foreign policy was in comparison with recent Republican administrations peaceful, no wars were started.

Despite this, there were areas where Trump’s record was not great. The lack of reform of the Obamacare, the increased deficits and the lack of economic conservative voices in the administration regarding spending spree, however, is the area, the friends of Liberty should hold Trump to account for.

It may signal a worrying trend of Republican Party actually following the previously laid paths of spending and undermining traditionally conservative message of government restraint, laissez-faire approach and general distrust in the government.

The sad fact remains that the United States have ceased to be the beacon of liberty, we have taken for granted. In the era, where the only right-wing movements that have been electorally successful have been “stained” by populist rhetoric that have driven many traditional allies out of the camp into the fold, which has been in both of these countries (i.e. UK and the US) taken over by more ideological bases than any in the recent memory.

Many of us then have found ourselves abstaining or supporting third choice, which in the systems with a majoritarian electoral voting always suits the one that takes over the day, but rarely pressures either of the sides to be more Liberty-oriented. Liberty has come out of fashion in the mainstream culture and both sides became more and more entrenched in the battles for their own soul, and that is where we need to step in.

We need to change the way we judge and value both sides and strengthen the message of liberty, especially when all the odds are staked against us, as is the case in the Stimulus driven, huge deficit and debt-stricken blocs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Otherwise we may lose what is left of the ideology that made the West great, and we may go down the road that has proven fateful so many times before. Let us not lose sight of this in the era, where populism and strong dislikeable personalities have made us forget that we stand in the battle of ideas and are on the losing end, with no hope yet in sight.

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Martin Reguli