Sunday, September 09, 2018

A radical agenda for a moderate party

Photo by Rui Sameshima on Unsplash
Whatever you call it - the centre, the mainstream, the moderates - the side segment of the political spectrum that lies between the far-left and the far-right is in trouble.

As Anne Applebaum wrote recently:
In contrast to these energized extremists, the "old" center-left and center-right can seem flat and dull, nothing more than defenders of the status quo. 
Some are simply at sea; others, struggling to redefine themselves, are trying to peddle milder versions of the far right’s racism. France’s Emmanuel Macron is an exception, but he redefined the center only by inventing a new political party — not an option available to everyone.
As well as diagnosing this malaise, she pointed to a way out of it:
The Western mainstream - which is the majority- should ... unite around the real issues that are actually distorting our politics and our economy: political corruption, money laundering, and the tax havens and shell companies that allow a few people to remove a lot of money from our countries and to hide it, sometimes literally, on Caribbean islands. 
Though these are all separate subjects, they are connected. We have learned, in the course of the Paul Manafort trial, of the deep connections between dirty money and political corruption, how one was used to finance the other. We have also learned, in the course of the Trump presidency, how easy it is for rich and well-connected people to defy the rule of law. 
What we haven’t focused on, yet, is how these actions hurt ordinary people. Thanks to tax frauds such as Manafort, there is less revenue for the government to spend on roads and schools. Thanks to men such as Trump, who routinely cheated his suppliers and broke labor laws, workplaces are more dangerous and small businesses falter. 
And because we have allowed the real estate markets in large Western cities to become vast storehouses for money stolen from Russia and Africa, ordinary workers can’t afford houses and life is more expensive for everyone.
An agenda for Vince Cable's old/new moderate/radical/liberal/centrist party? It could do worse.

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