Paul Krugman on Why Wall Street May Finally Be Losing Its Grip on Democrats

Paul Krugman is in a celebratory mood in Monday's column. He more or less declares the end of the era of Democratic politicians moving to the center and the birth of a new kind of populism in the party. His two pieces of evidence: The rejection among House democrats of aspects of Obama's corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement last Friday, and Hillary's Clinton's surprisingly liberal campaign kick-off speech this weekend. Times appear to be changing. 

Krugman gives a little historical perspective:

Part of the answer is that Democrats, despite defeats in midterm elections, believe — rightly or wrongly — that the political wind is at their backs. Growing ethnic diversity is producing what should be a more favorable electorate; growing tolerance is turning social issues, once a source of Republican strength, into a Democratic advantage instead. Reagan was elected by a nation in which half the public still disapproved of interracial marriage; Mrs. Clinton is running to lead a nation in which 60 percent support same-sex marriage.

At the same time, Democrats seem finally to have taken on board something political scientists have been telling us for years: adopting “centrist” positions in an attempt to attract swing voters is a mug’s game, because such voters don’t exist. Most supposed independents are in fact strongly aligned with one party or the other, and the handful who aren’t are mainly just confused. So you might as well take a stand for what you believe in.

The success of Obamacare and the fact that Democrats seem finally ready to embrace it plays an important role in the shift, according to Krugman. Those who once argued that government programs never work and always cost too much are on the ropes. Krugman calls them "the Davos Democrats, who used to be a powerful force arguing against progressive policies," and declares they have lost their credibility. Turns out their claims to understand the way the world really works was a fraud. Krugman is pretty sure that should she win, Hillary Clinton will govern differently from her husband. 

We'll see.


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