Paul Krugman: The GOP Has Been the Party of White Nationalism for Decades

Could a Virginia gubernatorial race embolden Trumpism across the country? That's the question that has Democrats so uneasy ahead of Tuesday's election, as Ed Gillespie has devoted almost his entire campaign to xenophobic fearmongering. If he defeats Ralph Northam in a state that narrowly voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, they reason, who's to say more Republicans won't run on the same platform?


For the New York Times' Paul Krugman, it's something of a trick question. That's because Gillespie's party adopted white nationalism long before Donald Trump took that fateful escalator ride into the bowels of Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for president. In fact, you can draw a straight line from Reagan's welfare queens to Bush Sr.'s Willie Horton ad to "Make America Great Again."

"What, after all, does the modern Republican Party stand for?" Krugman asks. "A cynic might say that it has basically served the interests of the economic elite while winning votes from the white working class with racial dog whistles. And the cynic would be right."

Just look at the two major political stories of the moment. While Gillespie is busy bombarding Virginians with ads about how Central American gangs are coming for their children, Republicans are foisting a tax plan on the American public that is almost universally reviled. Not only does the proposal provide massive tax cuts for those who need them the least—specifically, multinational corporations and the 1 percent—but tens of milions of lower- and middle-income Americans could actually end up paying more, a remarkable feat considering the legislation would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit.

"In short, Trumpist tax policy is as elitist if not more elitist and anti-populist than the policies of previous Republican administrations," Krugman writes. "Same old, same old."

Our current president may be more vulgar and incompetent than his predecessors, a matter of some debate considering the calamity of the second Bush administration, but the content of his politics—class warfare and white grievance—has largely remained the same.

"If that's what modern Republicanism is really about," Krugman argues, "how much has changed in the era of Trump?"

Read Paul Krugman's column at the New York Times.

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